After I attempted to go keto, I decided to dive deeper into Mediterranean cuisine. This type of cuisine seemed natural and familiar to me as a Spanish and Italian descendant. I enjoyed preparing all sorts of Mediterranean dishes for several months, including the traditional pumpkin risotto. A month ago, I decided to get my toes wet in Asian cuisine, and I got a Japanese cookbook. By preparing the recipes, I gained familiarity with the Japanese ingredients and ways of cooking. I realized the base of Japanese cuisine is the dashi, which is nothing more than a seaweed broth. I also developed a liking for the kabocha squash. These two ingredients inspired me to try out this fusion dish that turned out to be delicious.
I replaced most of the ingredients of the risotto with Japanese counterparts: Sake and mirin for wine, kabocha for regular squash, sesame oil for olive oil, and so on. Initially, I wanted to make it entirely Japanese by using sushi rice, which, like risotto kinds of rice, is very starchy, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any available, so I decided to make it a fusion dish. If you happen to try this recipe and use sushi rice, I’d be very interested in how it turns out. For the seasoning, I rely on the saltiness of soy sauce. Finally, the shichimi togarashi gave it the level of umami I was looking for.
You most likely will have about one to two cups of leftover dashi, if that is the case, one good use to it is to prepare some miso soup, which is a perfect starter for the risotto. Bon appetit!
Kabocha And Shiitake Risotto
Japanese inspired risotto.
Ingredients for the Dashi
- 6 cups Water
- 1 Sheet of Kombu (Size 4”x4”)
- 5/6 Dried Shiitake
Ingredients for the Risotto
- 1 tbsp toasted Sesame Oil
- 4 Scallions, white parts chopped, green parts cut in bias.
- 1/2 Onion, finely chopped.
- 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
- 6 medium-sized Shiitake Mushrooms
- 2 garlic cloves, minced.
- 1 tsp fresh thyme.
- 1/2 cup Mirin.
- 1/2 cup Sake.
- 1 cup Sushi Rice. Arborio or carnaroli also will work.
- 1/2 Kabocha Squash, peeled and cut into 1/2” dice.
- 2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
- 2 Pieces of Nori, cut into 1” squares.
- Shichimi togarashi
- Soy Sauce
- In a medium saucepan, add the water, dried Shiitake, and kombu, bring to a gentle simmer.
- As soon as the water starts to simmer, remove and discard the kombu.
- Simmer the dashi for 10 minutes to extract the flavors of the dried Shiitake. (You can use these later to add more mushrooms to your risotto)
- Reduce heat to low to keep the dashi warm.
- In a dutch oven in medium heat, bring the oil to a gentle simmer but not over the smoke point.
- Add the scallions, onion, and salt, cook until softened, 4 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, cook until they start to release their liquid, 2 minutes.
- Add garlic and thyme, cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
- Stir in the rice, cook until the edges become translucent, 2 minutes.
- Incorporate the sake and mirin, stir until the liquid is fully absorbed.
- Add the kabocha squash.
- Add 3/4 cup of the dashi, continually stirring until it’s fully absorbed.
- Keep adding the dashi by 3/4 cup until the rice is fully cooked, around 40 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, stir in the rice vinegar, and soy sauce to taste.
- Allow for 10 minutes rest before serving.
- Plate the risotto adding nori, scallions, and Shichimi togarashi.