Risotto On My Mind

When you think of the two best cuisines out there, the ones that you really crave, you think Italian and you think Asian. So what could be better than to fuse the two of those together to make the perfect combination of flavors. This week I watched the 'East Meets West' episode of Giada at Home and it really blew my mind. She made the most amazing Asian/Italian fusion dishes. So amazing that there was no way I wasn't going to duplicate them. Being that this is the uber talented Italian Giada, everything she makes on the show looks super simple, but when you try it at home, it isn't always so. Case in point, I once wasted $40 worth of ricotta and parmesan trying to make her lemon gnocchi. Needless to say, I was devastated. My husband actually said they may have been good as crackers so yes, it was an epic fail. On a more positive note, this Asian Mushroom Risotto recipe really is just that simple and I've simplified it even more by using readily available ingredients (and because there was no lemongrass, hon shemji or Tokyo negi at my local produce shop!).

The beauty of Risotto is that it is a blank canvas. I have an obsession with Mushrooms but if you don't, feel free to swap with Asparagus, Articoke or even Carrot. Hell, you can put all three of them in. Have a party! But first, you must STIR.

I recommend making this recipe when you have other items that you are cooking on the stove or that you are tending to nearby. Otherwise, get a sous chef (I got my little sister) to swap stirring duty with you every so often. Unless you have the patience of a saint, in that case, just do it yourself. Don't say I didn't warn you. That being said, the labor of love, in this case the stirring, really does shine through when the dish is completed. The rice will be tender and creamy with subtle hints of onion, rich, flavorful mushroom, spicy ginger and warm sesame. It's a seriously comforting food. Just channel your inner Italian bubby, who just happens to have some Asian flair, and it will come out not just fine but truly divine. Let's get stirring!

Asian Mushroom Risotto*


8 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock, or 4 Cups Stock plus 4 Cups Water (with 4 leveled tsp. chicken consomme added)
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. Earth Balance, plus 1 tsp. for finishing (or other butter substitute)
1 White Onion, diced
1-2 Leeks, washed well and sliced into thin rounds
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 inch square of Ginger, peeled and minced (or 3 Frozen Ginger Cubes)
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 lb. Mixed Mushrooms, ie. Baby Bella, Shiitake, Oyster, sliced
1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
Freshly Cracked Salt (3 grinds) and Pepper (4 grinds)
2 Cups Arborio Rice
1 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Tbs. Sesame Oil
Handful of Basil, cut into ribbons

*Note: This is the measurements for a double recipe. It will feed about 6-8 people. If you want to make a single recipe just halve the amount of rice and stock.


In a small saucepan add the Chicken Stock and Lemon Zest. Heat up the stock and keep at a simmer.
Next, in a large heavy bottom saucepan, heat up the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 1 tsp. of Earth Balance. Add diced Onion, sliced Leeks and minced Garlic. Saute for 5 minutes. Add Mixed Mushrooms along with the minced Ginger, Crushed Red Pepper, Soy Sauce and Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper. Saute for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are brown and fragrant. Next, add the Arborio Rice. Mix the rice into the mushroom/leek mixture. Make sure that every grain of rice is coated with the oil and juices from the vegetables. Deglaze the pan with Dry White Wine, scraping up any bits at the bottom. Stir until the wine has reduced and no longer smells of alcohol. Next, add 1 cup of the heated stock to the rice and stir until completely absorbed, about 5 minutes.

Keeping the heat on medium-low, continue the process by adding 1 ladle of stock, 
stirring until absorbed (about 5 minutes) and repeating until all the stock is used. 
So, to recap, add 1 Ladle of stock, Stir until absorbed, Repeat
This will take about 20 - 30 minutes. 
Once all the stock has been used, the rice should be tender and creamy.

 Remove from heat, add the remaining tsp. of Earth Balance, Sesame Oil and Basil. 
{Side note: To make Basil ribbons, stack a few leaves on top of one another,
 roll them up like a cigar and thinly slice!} 
Garnish with more Basil and serve immediately. 

Bon Appetit!


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