This is a total comfort food-umami bomb especially topped with Japanese Whisky Mushrooms and Pan-Seared Soy Maple Radicchio. Risotto requires some attention at the stove but it’s not difficult to make, and the resulting dish is well worth the effort. This risotto relies only on the rice’s starch for creaminess and requires a good balance between friction (stirring) and simmering (resting). Be sure to have all ingredients ready before turning on the stove, especially if making the accompanying dishes named above. Risotto serves 6 as a main course, 10 as a side dish.
P.S. Doenjang 된장 is pronounced DWEN jahng.
6 C chicken or vegetable stock, unsalted
2 C strained mushroom soaking water from Whisky Mushrooms (or use more chicken or vegetable stock)
2 T doenjang paste (red miso will work in a pinch but doenjang is worth sourcing or even making – see notes)
2 t sea salt (omit or add to taste if using salted stock)
2 T neutral oil suitable for pan frying
1 large white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2.5 C arborio or carnaroli rice
.5 C plain soju (dry white wine works too)
- Garnish (optional)
sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds and/or toasted sesame oil
- Have ALL of your ingredients, pans, utensils and serving dishes ready, especially if you’re making the accompanying radicchio and mushrooms. I can’t emphasize this enough. The sauce for the radicchio should be mixed, cooking oils and butter ready, soju or white wine measured, the mushrooms soaked/rinsed/drained/chopped, veggies and herbs prepped. The only thing I don’t measure out ahead of time is the whisky for the mushrooms. Everything else is ready and in its place.
- In medium saucepan, bring all stock ingredients to 130 to 140 F. It should be just below a simmer.
- Heat Dutch oven or other pot with tall sides over medium heat. Add 2 T oil. When oil is hot, add diced onion and sauté 3 minutes until onion softens and takes on a little color.
- Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat, until grains begin to smell toasty and appear translucent at the edges. Add soju or wine and stir until almost all liquid has evaporated.
- Add 1 C warm stock to risotto, stirring thoroughly with a flat-edged spatula or turner to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking over medium for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until most liquid has evaporated.
- Add another 1 C warm stock and stir risotto after adding. Let the risotto sit for a moment between stirring. Both stock and risotto pots should remain just at a simmer, neither boiling hard nor standing completely still. Adjust heat as needed.
[If making all three dishes, heat a large sauté pan for the Pan-Seared Soy Maple Radicchio. The radicchio comes together very quickly, in between stirring and resting the risotto. Put the finished radicchio in a serving dish and then make the Japanese Whisky Mushrooms right in the same pan.]
- Repeat step five, adding stock, stirring, resting, stirring until about 2 C of stock remain and rice thickens and swells. This is a good time to taste test with a clean spoon. When the rice is tender with a bit of a bite in the center, neither chalky nor mushy, it’s almost done.
[The radicchio should be done and in a serving dish. Heat the sauté pan again and, working quickly so the juices from the radicchio don’t burn, add butter and then the mushrooms. Time the flambé carefully: add stock to the risotto, stir and then immediately ignite the whisky mushrooms. Tend to the mushrooms while the risotto simmers. It will take only a moment.]
- Turn off the stock burner and turn the risotto to medium low. Add .5 C stock to risotto and continue stirring as risotto thickens even more. Taste test with a clean spoon and remove from heat as soon as you feel it’s done. Some people like their risotto more soupy and others like it firm. The entire stock-stir-rest-stir process should take 25-30 minutes and you may not need all of the stock.
- Plate it up! Garnish with sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds and/or toasted sesame oil.
- I used homemade aged doenjang for this recipe but commercial paste will also work beautifully. Red or dark miso paste will also work, but I’d encourage you to find authentic doenjang whenever possible. It’s saltier, funkier, punchier, mushroom-ie and more richly textured than miso.