Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Always Rice to the Occasion!

Risotto di Finocchi, Peperone, Arancia & Zenzero con Gamberi
Fennel, Pepper, Orange and Ginger Risotto with Shrimps


It had to be different, it had to be tasty and it had to be comforting- those were the 3 main things I wanted my supper to be this evening- which isn't too much to ask now, is it?

So all my way home, I thought over the ingredients I had in my fridge and freezer and thought up something nice to make. And then when I got here... I made this delicious risotto instead! ;-)


Risotto is always great and always comforting... so already that was a sure thing in itself. But by using some unusual ingredients, I turned a traditional, classic dish into something new and much more fun!

Fennel, orange, ginger and red pepper- I bet that's a flavor combination you haven't tried in a risotto yet, isn't it? And it does sound good too- wouldn't you agree? You would? Well good! Because then you would be right!


For 1 good bowl of risotto, I needed 2 handfuls of rice, 1/2 of a small fennel, 4-5 shrimps, a little fresh ginger, 1 small carrot, 1 shallot, a half stalk of celery, 1 small mild red pepper, the juice of one orange and a little zest.


See how delicious that looks? Well guess what... it tastes every bit as good as it looks too!


You are going to have to do a little chopping before you can get started- and to get chopping as finely as possible! The vegetables are going to be the flavor base for your risotto and you want them to cook quickly and blend in nicely with the rice.

Cut yourself a few little wedges of fennel and set them to one side to fry with the shrimps later on.


Start off by frying all of those finely chopped vegetables, together with a few slices of orange zest, in olive oil, until the shallot becomes translucent.


Add the rice (Vialone Nano in this care- although of course Arborio is also a classic and great rice for risotti) and stir it in so that it gets nicely coated in olive oil.


Now start adding the liquid- simply boiling water in this case, a little at a time and stirring it into the rice. You could use a vegetable broth too, but as the most important ingredients towards making a broth are already in the saucepan (carrot, celery and onion in the form of the shallot)- the broth will develop as the vegetables cook along with the rice.


Keep adding water as required and occasionally stirring so that it becomes absorbed, the grains of rice rub together and become starchy and the risotto begins to turn thick and creamy as you go.

After around 20 minutes, you should nearly be finished and around this time you can add a little of the fennel green, finely chopped and the juice of half of the orange into the rice. Season with salt and pepper as required, add a little more olive oil and turn off the heat. Let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes and in the meantime take care of the shrimp- so easy and delicious and a great addition!


Start frying the fennel slices first and then add the shrimp after 3-4 minutes. Sizzle them from both sides, season with plenty of salt and pepper and then deglaze with the juice of the other half of the orange before serving.


Serve with a few thin shreds of orange zest, plenty of fresh pepper, a scattering of the fennel greens- but obviously no cheese as this is a seafood-based dish.

You COULD add cheese if you wanted too- but in my opinion- and almost any other Italian or Sicilian on the planet- fish and cheese are simply not meant for each other! So if you do it... please don't let me know about it! lol!


Rich, unctuous, but still pretty healthy! Another good point about this dish- as if it didn't have enough others, anyway!

 A thing of beauty- and an edible one at that!


Makes me wish I had made twice as much when I look at this picture... I could eat the whole thing all over again!

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