Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring "Risotto" of Asparagus and Scallops

Somehow, I tend to draw risotto's close resemblance to Asian version (Cantonese) "wet rice", known as 烩饭; (pronounced Hui Fan). "Wet rice" as name suggests: this dish is typically served WET. Not your usual fried rice definitely. There is some lazy origins to this. Well, lazy people prefer to eat everything on ONE plate. So, a seafood or meat side-dish (with gravy) is topped over the steamed rice, then serve as ONE-DISH. The outcome: the rice becomes wet, bathed and soaked in side-dish gravy. A way and "culture" of eating (lazy), becomes a dish that can be "marketed" and sold to the masses. It is definitely not a new idea if you think of scallop risotto a la Italia. But we all know that risotto is not solely defined by the "wetness" - it is also uniquely characterized by the cream and cheese as highlighted in Christine Recipes.


Fried Rice and "Wet Rice" must be calling for fussy opposing palates. If you define perfect Fried Rice as: the rice still stay as individual glossy grains after being fried, that cannot be soggy yet must be sufficiently moist (not totally dry that it chokes you at the throat); what defines "Wet Rice"? Every grain that "glues" and where its signature stamps "soggy"? ...

Shuttling across the Pacific Ocean for the past many months, the last thing I wanted to do is to buy yet another type of grain to stock up my very temporary pantry back in Sing. I have finished up using my long-grain basmatic rice (after many rounds of biryani), still have some brown rice and red cargo rice left and recently got myself a small pack of millet. So...I am not buying any more new grains at this time - no short-grain round rice for risotto. I will use long-grain rice here (prefer long-grain anyway). I seem to enjoy pairing seafood with asparagus , so gave a twist to previously made Seafood "Wet Rice", Stir-Fry Scallops with Asparagus and prepared Scallops and Asparagus "Risotto".

Scallops and Asparagus "Risotto"


Ingredients: Scallops, dab dry with paper towels, lightly season with salt and black pepper (to be pan-seared); Asparagus, rinsed and remove fibrous layers off the stem with a small paring knife, then thinly sliced at the bias; 1 clove garlic finely minced; 1/2 tsp minced ginger; 1-2 tbsp whisked egg (Note1: if you want pure white gravy for presentation purpose, separate egg yolk and white and use only the egg white. Note2: remaining egg can be fried, then "slivered" as egg strips as garnish for the same dish); salt and white pepper to taste; 2 bowls of cooked brown/white rice (long-grain or short-grain, your preference)

Directions: Pan-sear the scallops, set aside. Dish out the remaining scallop "juice", set aside. Add some oil in pan and add in garlic, ginger and fry till fragrant. Then add in asparagus and fry well with the garlic and ginger. Return the scallop "juice" into the pan (this is like seafood stock!), and add 2-3 tbsps water and allow it to simmer till asparagus becomes tender. Pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat and gently stir in whisked egg to slightly thicken up (and "texturize") the gravy. Ladle asparagus with egg gravy over the cooked rice, then topped with pan-seared scallops.


Note3: Scallop is "no-fuss" seafood. You do not need to remove any shells or veins (like in shrimps) or challenge your teeth through the hard-shell crabs. To me, scallop is "high-yielding (similar to salmon): Minimal effort in preparation but full of nutritional benefits when consumed.  Each meaty flesh is scallop - rich in vitamin B12, zinc and copper; also a good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, scallop is seafood but taste so different from fish (scallop's uber-unami is hard to beat). Asparagus is high in Vitamin K, folate and Vitamin C. All these healthful and natural ingredients makes a nutritious and delectable one-dish meal.

If scallop noodles does not appeal to you, how about luxurious scallop "risotto"? Fried rice and "wet rice" calls for opposing palates for taste and texture but I enjoy both of them cos my palate is "moody", "temperamental" and fussy at the right time. If you have the right amount of gravy ladled on the rice, the rice will not get extremely soggy. Instead, the sturdy and plain steamed rice gets mellowed by the silky egg gravy, thereafter hauling comfort. Silky texture with balance of flavors from the uber-unami scallops and asparagus. Best.


Your palate for Fried Rice and "Risotto"-like Rice, which do you prefer?


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