Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Floating Dragon Risotto

Risotto di Zucca & Peperone con Zenzero, Anice Stellata & 5-Spezie
5-Spice Pumpkin & Pepper Risotto, with Ginger & Star Anise


Risotto. Wonderful, comforting, Italian, risotto- you've just got to love it! Even if you have had it time and time again in every conceivable, traditional and delicious variation... and there are plenty of them...

...but what if you were to make it into something different and new? Isn't it good to try something different now and again and set sea for new culinary destinations... even if they end up being as far away as China?

I say, YES! Never mind those comments about "all the rice in China"- I needed but one cupful to make one wonderful plateful of amazing food! Follow me to find out how...


With just a couple of simple ingredients and a dash of spice, I put together this great rice dish single-handedly in just 40 minutes. I say single-handedly because I still have my right hand bandaged after my burn from last night... sigh! But the thing is- that food doesn't need to be complicated to make to be delicious to eat... then again- you all already know that now, don't you?

For one, good portion you will need a good cupful of Arborio rice, 2 cupfuls of chopped pumpkin, about 2" of fresh ginger, 1 Spring onion, 1 red pepper and a little fresh basil. The spices you will need are star anise and Chinese 5-spice powder, some mild chili paste, salt and pepper... and otherwise all you need is... to get chopping!


Although this was a little spicier than many, the fact that is lush and lovely risotto rice and that it has sweet and mild pumpkin in it, makes it into a wonderfully balanced blend... and that's where the real comfort comes from!


Again, as usual, as is most often the case here in Germany, I used Hokkaido pumpkin for this dish as it has a lovely full and rich flavor... and also because it doesn't need to be peeled!

I cut the pumpkin into thin slices and then cut the slices in turn into little pieces, chopped the mild red pepper and the ginger into a fine dice and cut the Spring onion into thin slices.


The onion and ginger went into a saucepan with a little peanut and a little sesame oil first and as soon as they were sizzling away, I added the rice and the star anise and gave everything a thorough mix to get them all slightly coated in oil.


Next came the chopped pepper and pumpkin, 1 tablespoon of 5-spice, salt, pepper and a good stir! Once everything was coated in spice, I deglazed the saucepan with enough boiling water to cover the base of the pan... and the stirring could begin!

Add more boiling water, little-by-little as the rice and the vegetables cook down, but just enough for it to be absorbed within a couple of minutes as you gently stir away. And no- I did not rely on any rich stocks to make a broth... I had already got loads of good, mixed flavors right there in my saucepan!

After around 30 minutes the vegetables were soft, the rice just perfect... and I was getting impatient end feeling very, very hungry!

This was the right time to add a good teaspoon of chili paste and 5-6 basil leaves finely chopped, to stir them in, to let the risotto rest for 5 minutes more- and to grab myself a plate and set my little table for one!

Although there was chili paste already in there and it had a good amount of heat from the chili paste- a last grind of fresh pepper always adds that little bit of magic!


I guess this really IS a dish that can be described as Eur-Asian- for me it was the perfect combination this evening... I recommend you try it too sometime!


Rich and tasty and spicy, but still simple to make and with very everyday ingredients in there, accessible and whipped-up in a flash! And that's all good news at suppertime!


  1. Can you make this with brown rice?

  2. Hi! I think that sounds like a great idea, although I don't know if brown rice would be glutinous enough for it to become nice and creamy as you stir it... One tip would be to not rinse it first, as that washes a lot of the gluten out of rice. give it a try, I think it may actually taste better than regular rice! best wishes, Francesco

  3. And who doesn't like risotto, indeed! Floating Dragon... love the name!

    1. Hi Frank! I'm glad you approve! In fact, I am thinking I must make risotto again tonight... I have baby artichokes, saffron, bacon and peas in mind... Care to join me? ;-) best wishes, Francesco