Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Arancini al Pesto | 意式羅勒醬芝士炸飯糰

When German cookware brand Fissler offered me the one-in-a-million chance to star in a two-minute video showcasing their products and my own recipe, I had some sort of idea what challenge I am getting myself into. Design one Italian vegetarian recipe that makes use of two or more of the following products: a pressure cooker, a hand blender, and a frying pan. Sounds simple, eh?

I was thrilled for the vegetarian theme, a challenge I find timely as I increasingly lean towards a plant-based diet. But what is one to do with a pressure cooker, a hand blender, and a frying pan with a meatless recipe? Surely, plain old risottos have been tried and done, pasta has no place in this challenge, and I was certain an everyday Italian tomato sauce wasn't going to make the cut. With no oven available at the site of filming, I have also ruled out the aubergine.

Baffled and tickled, I imagined myself on the set of Guy's Grocery Games, faced with the challenge of creating a winning dish using all the provided equipment with an open pantry. My mind searched for delicacies I have tasted across Italy over the years. It was then when a light bulb flickered in my head. Ah, the arancini, or "little oranges" - the spherical Sicilian cousin of the Roman suppli, a popular street food consisting of a deep fried ball of rice and typically a filling of meat and tomato sauce, peas, and melted mozzarella.

Who doesn't like the sound of delicious, crunchy, balls of flavorsome rice coated in breadcrumbs and a hidden surprise of melted mozzarella that pulls with each bite? With the arancini little known in Hong Kong, I knew the audience would be in for a trip. I henceforth set off my journey of hunting for ingredients overseas, testing and adapting, and frying away at home in the weeks leading to the video shoot.

Breaking away from tradition, the filling for arancini is only confined by imagination. That's when I thought I am going to make Arancini al Pesto (what's not to love with fresh homemade pesto?) - cook risotto in the pressure cooker (check), make breadcrumbs and pesto with the hand blender (check), and finally fry the balls in the pan (check!!)! The ensuing journey isn't without any hiccups though as I slowly get myself acquainted with the pressure cooker. The result, however, is a foolproof recipe specially developed for the Fissler pressure cooker, a truly magical kitchen companion that cuts cooking time drastically and delivers amazing results.

This recipe, of course, can be adapted to most kitchens without a pressure cooker. Increase the amount of stock and add to the rice a little at a time and continuously stir, until all the stock has been used up and the rice is cooked, yet still al dente.

•  If possible, make the risotto ahead of time and let it cool completely or even refrigerated overnight as the rice tends to stick better. For this reason, leftover risotto is often used for making arancini.
• Pesto can be made with various kinds of nuts or seeds, with pine nuts being the most recognized ingredient in pesto alla Genovese. Opt for sunflower seeds for a more economical alternative without sacrificing any flavor or texture!
•  If serving arancini immediately, lower slightly the heat of the frying oil and increase the frying time for the rice balls to ensure that the mozzarella melts inside. Otherwise, remove the balls once golden brown and warm or reheat in the oven when ready to serve.

What you'll need...
For the Risotto:
1 cup (200 g) Arborio rice           
1 small brown onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup (120 ml) white wine
1 1/2 (350 ml) cup vegetable or chicken stock, warmed
1/3 cup (30 g) grated Parmesan cheese
A heaping tablespoon frozen peas
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter
Black pepper, to taste

For the Pesto:
1 bunch basil (2 cups packed)
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Arancini (makes 8):
1 recipe for risotto, as above
1 1/2 tablespoons pesto, recipe as above
1/2 x 125g ball of mozzarella cheese (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
All-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
Breadcrumbs, homemade* or store-bought
Vegetable oil, for frying

*Note: For homemade breadcrumbs, tear stale bread into chunks and blitz into medium-fine breadcrumbs, then spread on a sheet pan and toast in oven at 180C/350F until golden brown.

Cooking the Risotto
1. Melt butter on medium heat on the base of the pressure cooker. Add onion and saute until softened, about one minute, then stir in garlic and saute briefly. Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice is evenly coated in butter and toasted but not browned, about 3 minutes. Rice grains should start to appear translucent around the edges.

2. Add wine and cook, stirring, until the raw alcohol smell has cooked off and wine has almost fully evaporated. Pour in stock, then, on medium-high heat, fasten the pressure cooker lid and set the cooking display with traffic light function on level II. Reduce heat to low and set timer for 8 minutes once the green ring becomes visible.

3. When time is up, set the cooker aside to cool. Release the remaining steam and lift the lid carefully away for yourself. Stir in grated Parmesan and frozen peas, and season with black pepper. Set risotto aside to cool completely or refrigerate overnight.

Making the Pesto
1. Blend basil, sunflower seeds, garlic, olive oil, and half of the lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Taste and add more add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Making the Arancini
1. Stir 1 1/2 tablespoon of pesto into the cooled risotto and mix well, adding more if necessary.

2. Place and flatten a scoop of rice in your palm, place a cube of mozzarella in the center, then enclose with another scoop of rice and roll and shape into a ball. In the following order, roll the shaped arancini in flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs.

3. Heat oil in a deep pan or saucepan over high heat. To test the oil is ready, drop a few breadcrumbs - if they sizzle and float, it is ready. Carefully lower the arancini in batches and fry until golden and crispy. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain and serve. Buon appetito!


平時 Risotto 就見得多、食得多喇,
今日就試下將 Risotto 化身為脆卜卜、
注入新元素 —— 簡易自家製羅勒醬;
意大利米             200 克
洋蔥                      1 小個(切粒)
蒜頭                      2瓣(切粒)
白酒                      120 毫升
蔬菜高湯             350 毫升
巴馬臣芝士碎    30 克
青豆                      15 克
牛油                      15 克
黑胡椒                  適量

1. 熱鍋下牛油,放入洋蔥,用中火炒約 1 分半鐘至軟身,加入蒜蓉炒香,再放入米並炒勻至米粒稍顯透明。
2. 加入白酒,炒勻至白酒完全被吸收。加入高湯,待微滾後蓋上高速鍋蓋,調校至 2 速,用中火煲至見綠環轉慢火,計時 8 分鐘後熄火。
3. 待指示燈降至原位,開蓋。放入芝士碎和青豆,拌勻並作適當調味。放涼或隔夜備用。

新鮮羅勒葉          約 50 克
蒜頭                       2 辦
葵花籽                  約 2 湯匙(可用松子仁、腰果、杏仁等)
初榨橄欖油          2 - 3 湯匙
新鮮檸檬汁          約 2 茶匙
黑胡椒          適量

1. 所有材料放入隨機附送的粉碎器中,用一字頭高速攪拌約 30 秒即成。

意大利飯              以上食譜
羅勒醬                  適量
莫薩里拉芝士    半個(切 1/2" x 1/2" 粒)
麵粉                      適量
雞蛋                      1 隻
麵包糠                  適量
米糠油                  油炸用

1. 將適量羅勒醬拌入已經放涼或隔夜的意大利飯內。
2. 用手拿出一小份意大利飯,包入芝士,搓成球狀。
3. 依次序將飯糰沾上麵粉、蛋液、和麵包糠。
4. 用熱油炸至金黃色即成!

[Follow me on Instagram @alvinckl and @alvin.penthousekitchen and check out my Facebook Fan Page!]

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