Asparagus and walnut risotto

I like asparagus, though I struggle to find different ways to cook it apart from the usual sauté with garlic and lemon juice. It’s one of those vegetables that I have a love/hate relationship with. When it’s out of season, I miss it, but when it’s here and so abundant, there is a rush to stick it on the menu as much as possible resulting in asparagus burnout.

This recipe tempers the green taste of the asparagus with the nutty walnut and creamy risotto. It’s such a comforting food. I would serve this with simply pan-fried fish or poached chicken. I poached some free-range chicken with sweet vegetables (celery, onion and carrot) and herbs for the chicken stock, then served the risotto with slices of the poached meat.

As an aside, can someone explain the cult of (canned) asparagus rolls to me? I was introduced to them during a potluck lunch at my first job. I took one naïve bite, and was desperately trying to find a way I could spit it out without upsetting the colleague who made the dish. Continue reading

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Sushi party

A sushi party is one of the best ways to hold a dinner party. For any Japanese and/or sushi connoisseurs reading this, I am using the term ‘sushi’ quite broadly. In this context, it’s anything served with sushi rice. At a sushi party, your guests do half the preparation, adding to the occasion.

All you have to cook is the sushi rice, which does need to be done several hours in advance, – the rice has to cook, and then cool to room temperature. I allow 4 cups of Japanese rice for 6 people. The traditional way is to wash and polish the rice many times to remove the ‘loose’ starch and let the rice soak in water for 30 minutes before cooking so your cooked rice is fluffy, but not sticky. I tend to just wash it a couple of times, and straight into the rice cooker. I don’t eat enough sushi to be an expert, but good sushi rice should have a firm texture but you can still pull away the individual grains and is sticky, but never gluggy. Continue reading