Risottos are rather spoilt and attention-seeking things that demand you stick around and stir for the best part of 20 minutes. But that's the toughest bit. It is normal to find yourself needing a little less or more stock than the stipulated amount. After all, drinking capabilities differ among breeds of rice. Frankly, if I need any more than what is on the adjacent simmer, I just use hot water.
- 1 stick celery, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 60g flaked almonds
- 175g Arborio rice
- 75ml white wine
- Approximately 800ml chicken stock
- A knob of butter
- Zest of a lemon
The only drawback of this dish is the need for 2 saucepans, preferably with thick bottoms. Gently simmer the chicken stock in one and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in another. Fry the almonds in the olive oil till golden and tip onto a saucer. Set aside.
Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the finely-chopped celery. Add a pinch of salt and sweat till translucent. Sprinkle over the rice and fry for a minute or so. Sluice in the white wine, stirring constantly, until evaporated or absorbed. Pour in a ladleful of chicken stock, stirring again just till the rice laps it up. Repeat this process until the grains are al dente. Off the heat, drop in the butter and grate over some lemon zest. Cover with a lid and let rest for just 2 minutes before plating up.
I don't use any parmesan here. I think the almonds are rich enough, though a swish of peppery extra virgin olive oil would be wonderful. Sometimes I fold blanch-then-slice whole baby courgettes in at the end. The hacked-up chartreuse leaves from a celery head (from which the celery stick came) make for a nice finishing touch.
White risotto with fried almonds
Stories and photos copyright © Bryan Koh, unless otherwise stated. Not to be reproduced without permission from the author.