Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pumpkin coconut risotto

Risotto is a great comfort food, especially when it is freezing cold like here in Canada.  With each spoonful you feel your body temperature rise, which is perfect after a hike in the woods, or when your heater breaks. 
I grew up on a mound of risotto, (being of northern Italian decent) and have always been amazed at how versatile the dish can be.  There are so many kinds of risotti and they are vastly different.  I lived in Asia for a few years and realized that some Asian rice-cooking techniques are not that different than my Nonna's, which was the inspiration for this recipe.  
Thai ingredients do not often end up in Italian recipes, but I thought I should give it a try.  Cooking can be about experimenting after all. The end product of this Italian-Thai fusion will blow your mind!  I have never had a risotto so flavourful and delicious.  This is something that I could eat every day! 
This is a two part recipe, the first part is making a blended coconut pumpkin soup.  This should be done well in advance as soups should cooled to manageable temperature before blending, which in some cases can be several hours. At this point the soup can be enjoyed on its own!  
The second part of the recipe is adding this deliciously creamy soup to the rice which creates the amazing risotto.   The entire process takes several hours, not including the cooling time, so make sure you plan ahead for this recipe.  
Soup
  • 3 cups of chopped pumpkin
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 inch knob of ginger, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stocks
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 5 cups water
  • salt to taste
Risotto
  • 5 cups pumpkin coconut soup
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
Method: 
  1. In a large pot, boil all soup ingredients for 1 hour.  Allow to cool for 2-3 hours, remove and discard the lemongrass.
  2. Transfer the soup to a blender and liquefy. This will take several blends so it is best to have a second soup pot on hand to transfer the blend soup.  If not, a large bowl will do and then the blended soup can used as needed.  
  3. In a large pan or wok, add the rice and soup.  Heat gently over medium heat, constantly stirring so that the rice does not burn on the bottom. It is important to constantly stir this rice.  If the soup begins to spatter, lower the heat adding more soup or water if needed.
Constantly test the rice to make sure if it is soft enough, and if it is to your liking, you did an excellent job! 

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