When it comes to risotto, my favourite is definitely a mushroom risotto. But let’s switch things up a little bit here. Instead of going for a classic creamy mushroom risotto flavour, I went on to add a pinch of Far-East flavour in there to create a more fusion concept. The result? I absolutely loved it, if not border-line obsessed about it.
Black garlic offers such a deep flavour that’s tinged with a caramelised sweetness. When cooked with a dash of miso and butter, it creates this lusciously umami flavour profile that really brings the oomph to the risotto. In terms of mushroom choice, I went with a simple choice of regular chestnut mushrooms plus a small proportion of pearl shiitake mushrooms. The water used for rehydrating the shiitake mushrooms is then used in the risotto cooking process as well for a little flavour boost. Cream and cheese are also used for attaining that rich texture.
What is Black Garlic
Black garlic is, well, garlic that’s black in colour. The obvious aside, black garlic is the aged version of your regular white garlic bulbs. You don’t just leave your garlic sitting around to make it into black garlic though. It’s a regulated process under the conditions of both high temperature and humidity, over the course of weeks or months, to allow it to caramelise and achieve a sticky texture. The texture of black garlic is much softer than its original form and also offers a much deeper molasses-like caramelised flavour.
It is actually quite a common ingredient in Asia so it’s not a foreign flavour to me. I’ve always loved it, especially in the form of black garlic oil for drizzling on top for noodle/ramen soups. In addition, black garlic is known to contain twice the amount of antioxidants compared to its regular form.
Although please do note that black garlic is not a replacement for regular garlic. The flavour profiles of the two are significantly different and can NOT be used interchangeably.
In the UK, you can find Black Garlic at the likes of Waitrose or higher-end/gourmet shops. Alternatively, it is also available on Amazon.
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Arborio Rice vs Regular Rice
Risotto asks for a very specific type of rice, i.e. Arborio Rice.
Arborio Rice is a variety of short-grain rice that originated from Italy. Its high starchy nature is key to creating that creamy texture in a risotto. Whilst you typically should be washing your rice, Arborio Rice is an exception. It is essential to keep the starch which, as mentioned, is crucial for making risotto. To attain that ultra-creamy texture, you’d have to be patient and cook the rice slowly, adding liquid little by little, and stirring constantly. Arborio rice can take up a lot of liquid, which the same amount on your regular rice would have turned into mush or congee. That’s why Arborio rice is a must in making risotto.
You can find Arborio rice at major supermarkets although qualities may differ from different brands. Also available on Amazon.
Shiitake Mushrooms + Chestnut Mushrooms
I used both Shiitake Mushrooms and Chestnut Mushrooms for this recipe. Both mushroom varieties offer deep flavours which adds an earthy flair to the risotto dish. For shiitake mushrooms in particular, I used dried ones which are readily available at oriental supermarkets. Dried shiitake mushrooms offer a more intense and concentrated flavour. After rehydrating the dried shiitake mushrooms by soaking them in water for at least 30 minutes, the water used is now packed with mushroom flavours and makes a great flavour boost in cooking the risotto.
How to make Black Garlic Miso Mushroom Risotto
So there are two parts of it – (1) make the risotto base; and (2) making the black garlic miso butter mushroom mixture. In terms of preparation, apart from the usual chopping, you’d have to spare about 30 minutes to rehydrate the pearl shiitake mushrooms. Reserve the mushroom water as it’s going to be used as part of the cooking liquids for the risotto!
Making the Risotto Base
As per any risotto recipe, it starts with the base. I used onions (shallots work too) and have also included a pinch of red chilli flakes for adding a mild kick of heat to it – though that’s completely optional to your own taste and preferences. Once the onions are softened, Arborio rice is then added and cooked till toasted before liquid is added.
This is a no-alcohol risotto recipe. Once the rice is toasted, I first added in the reserved mushroom water, which adds a beautiful fragrance. The rice would absorb the liquid and that’s when you begin stirring in chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian-friendly option) in roughly 3 to 4 batches. There is going to be stirring involved, but not as daunting as people claimed, i.e. constantly stirring for 30 minutes straight. You basically need to stir in order for the rice to not stick to the bottom of your pot and to have the rice cooking evenly. Give it a stir every time you add in another batch of broth and it’s only towards the end when you want to stir more regularly to prevent the rice from sticking to your pot. The whole process usually takes about 20 minutes for me.
The end result should be of a creamy consistency but the rice grains are still in shape. I’d definitely recommend doing a little taste-test just make sure it’s cooked through and al dente.
Making the Black Garlic Miso Mushroom
You can quickly make this after you’re done cooking the risotto base. Or multitask if you will during the initial stages of cooking the risotto, i.e. when it demands a little less attention for the stirring.
Briefly smash the black garlic before cooking. The idea is to have it almost blended with the butter-mushroom mixture. In terms of mushroom choice, as mentioned, I went with chestnut mushrooms and also shiitake mushrooms, which were rehydrated and its water is reserved for cooking the risotto.
White miso paste is used for this part of the recipe. The flavours of white miso is milder than that of brown miso, which creates depth without overpowering other strong components of this dish.
Last but not least, stir in the double cream and then combine the mushroom mixture into the risotto base. Add in some shredded Mozarella Cheese as well Garnish with chopped chives and a sprinkle of Togarashi (Japanese Chilli Pepper).
Black Garlic Miso Mushroom Risotto
- 8-10 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
- ¼ cup Water
- 1-2 tbsp Cooking Oil
- 1 large Onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp Red Chilli Flakes optional
- 1 cup Arborio Rice
- ½ tsp Salt to taste
- 750 ml Chicken/Vegetable Stock
- 2 heaped tbsp Butter
- 4 cloves Black Garlic
- 250 g Chestnut Mushroom
- 1½ tbsp White Miso
- 4 tbsp Double Cream
- ⅓ cup Mozzarella Cheese shredded
- 10 g Chives finely chopped, for garnish
- Togarashi Japanese Chilli Pepper optional, to taste & for garnish
- Rehydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms by soaking them with ¼ cup of water for 30 minutes until softened. Reserve the mushroom water.
- Heat cooking oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute chopped onions and red chilli flakes (if using) for 5-10 minutes until softened. Season with salt.
- Add Arborio Rice. Saute for 2 minutes until toasted.
- Stir in the reserved mushroom water. Cook for a minute until the liquid is absorbed.
- Add in a quarter of the chicken/vegetable broth. Stir occasionally until the liquid's absorbed. Repeat for the remaining broth until creamy and the rice has an al dente texture.
- In a separate pan, melt butter over medium heat.
- Add black garlic cloves into the pan and smash them until blended with the butter.
- Add the shiitake mushrooms. Saute for 2 minutes and then add the chestnut mushroom. Cook for 5 minutes until the mushrooms are softened.
- Stir in miso paste and season with a pinch of Japanese chilli pepper if using. Saute for 2 minutes.
- Add in the double cream and stir to combine.
- Transfer the mushroom mixture into the risotto base, add in Mozarella cheese and mix to combine.
- Garnish with chives and more Japanese chilli pepper if using. Serve warm.
- There is no need to wash the Arborio Rice before cooking. Unlike other regular varieties of rice, Arborio Rice does NOT require washing beforehand.
- Black garlic is an aged version of regular garlic. However, the two are NOT to be used interchangeably as their flavour profiles are significantly different.
- When making the risotto, stirring is required only to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. No need to stir constantly throughout the entire process.
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