If you read my self-introduction (you did it, right?? If you didn’t and wanna take a look -> Fabio in the sKAI), you already know that I like cooking.
“Who cares”, you may think.
However, whenever you change country, it may be difficult to find the same ingredients you usually use (or you find used in what you eat) in your home country. This is, of course, a good chance to try something new, especially if we are talking about 日本料理, which is full of delicious dishes.
One of my favourites? カツ丼(katsudon).
You may have already eaten it (hopefully!), but for those who didn’t, here a quick explanation.
This japanese dish consists of a bowl of rice topped with a fried breaded sliced pork steak and eggs, both previously cooked in a salty flavoured broth.
It’s sooo delicious you will just get addicted in no time.
In some restaurants it’s also common to find a set meal which consists of: カツ丼, sliced キャベツ (cabbage) and miso soup. The price for all this is around 500-600yen (if we are talking of a standard size portion) which is pretty cheap for such a good taste and a full belly.
rainy days are coming (winter is coming) and the other day I just woke up thinking about what I wanted to eat for lunch (immediately after having thought about breakfast, of course) and what a coincidence! It’s also today’s topic: risotto (リゾット).
This italian dish has many variations. The most famous one is probably the “risotto alla milanese” (リゾットアッラミラネーゼ), also known as “risotto allo zafferano” (サフランリゾット).
The legend (or better, one of the legends) begins with a Flemish glass painter, Valerio Perfundavalle, who came to Milan to work in the Milan Cathedral. This fellow used saffron to make his yellow colour brighter, and one day, while he was painting one of the Cathedral windowｓ, he poured some of that saffron in his bowl of rice by mistake.
And no way you’re gonna throw away your lunch just because some saffron accidentally felt in it!
What we know for sure is that the taste wasn’t bad at all and with some more cooking tricks it became popular enough to establish itself as a traditional northern Italian dish.
The thing I like the most about risotto is that you may re-invent it in many ways.
The main/common process in preparing a risotto is that you have to sauté the rice first (usually with butter or EVO oil and, differently from the Japanese way, without washing it first) and pour some broth little by little, over low heat.
Getting back to that morning, here what I used to make my own version.
Ingredients (for 3 people, or 3 meals):
1 green pepper
A cup of rice
1 Chahan powder bag or 1 bouillon cube
- First of all, let’s prepare the broth.
The best and healthiest way to make a broth is to boil vegetables (and usually chicken meat) together for like one hour.A possible shortcut is to use flavour-enhancer like bouillon cubes. I didn’t have those, so I just made an experiment and used that powder (easy to find and not that expensive) which is supposed to be used to prepare チャーハン.
The result is pretty much the same (one of those bag is less salty than a bouillon cube, so you can also add some common salt, if you want).
Just pour one bag in the water and make it boil.
- Wash and chop vegetables. (1)Pour some EVO oil in a pot and heat it for few minutes (how much oil? It depends on your taste and on the amount of vegetables we are about to sauté: in this case, if you are using a big pot as the one I used there’s no need to cover the whole bottom).
I prefer not to use a high-heating way to cook things, so I just go for a medium flame. But make sure the oil is hot enough before pouring your vegetables(2).
Make them sauté for some minutes till the onion gets a light roasted colour(3).
- Now it’s time to pour the cup of rice in the pot! Do it, stir all the ingredients with a spoon and sauté for few minutes till the rice gets a transparent yellow colour(4); then pour half of your broth in the pot(5), lower the heating/flame (a low-medium flame is puuuurfect) and stir again; let the rice cook and make sure to stir once in a while(6). When the broth is almost entirely absorbed, repeat the procedure from (5) with the other half of the broth.
Now a crucial point: when the broth is almost completely absorbed again, taste the almost-done risotto. If the rice is not ready yet, or you would like it more cooked then that, just pour some hot water (not too much, always half little pot amount per time) and repeat the procedure once more till the rice gets the consistency you like. Just remember to add salt to taste once ready.
And now it’s done(7)!
[Tip: just in the unlikely case that you have some cheese, like parmesan cheese, pour it into your risotto while it’s still hot and stir, stir and stir again…aweeeesome.]