11 January 2010

Scallop and sugar snap risotto

Picture this. You've just left the office. You realise you will have approximately twenty minutes between getting home and your dinner guest(s) arriving. What do you do?

This was the problem I faced today - one of my best friends was coming over to dinner - although she is a kind and understanding woman, she gets hungry. After starting at 7 this morning, I left the office at 6 tonight (relatively early by my standards!) and realised I had less than an hour before she would arrive.

Fortunately, though, I had this recipe up my sleeve - Scallop and Sugar Snap Risotto. This version serves 2.

Note that I have cooked them in the St Jacques style (gently poached in white wine) - if you prefer, sear them in olive oil with some salt, pepper and lemon zest. I prefer this way, since a) they are much more tender (without being sashimi!) and b) they shrink less.

You will need:
2 handfuls arborio rice
1 onion
tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp olive oil
1 lemon
1 glass white wine (200 ml)
400 ml boiling water
chicken stock cube
250 g sugar snap peas
10 scallops

frying pan + egg slice
cutting board + knife
lemon zester
small saucepan
  1. Finely dice the onion in the frying pan. Saute in olive oil until brown.
  2. Roughly chop the sugar snap peas.
  3. Add the garlic to the onion and brown.
  4. Add the arborio rice and allow to cook for a few minutes. If you let it get a tiny bit darker in colour, it will add a lot to the flavour.
  5. Dissolve the stock cube in boiling water.
  6. Add 1/4 of the chicken stock to the rice and allow it to absorb over a medium heat. As the rice dries out, keep adding small volumes of stock. Continue to do this for 6 minutes (or until the rice is only a couple of minutes away from being done)
  7. Zest and juice lemon and add to saucepan along with wine. Heat over the lowest possible flame.
  8. Add the scallops to the wine mixture in a single layer (this can be done in batches if necessary). The wine should not come more than halfway up the side of the scallops - if it does, tip the excess liquid off into the rice. Poach the scallops for about 2 minutes a side on the lowest heat.
  9. Remove the scallops from the poaching liquid. Cover and leave in a warm place. Tip the remaining poaching liquid onto the rice and allow it to absorb.
  10. When the rice has about 2 minutes left to cook, add the sugar snap peas.
  11. Cook the rice until it is soft through - it should melt on the plate. If any extra liquid is required, add a little more wine.
  12. Plate the risotto. Put the scallops back in the hot pan (no flame - just the residual heat is plenty) for ten seconds per side to ensure they are nice and warmed through. Top the risotto with the scallops and serve.
Voila! Dinner in under 15 minutes - and with perfectly tender, sweet scallops with a zingy risotto, who could ask for more?

(OK, I'm a foodie, not a photographer or a food stylist - but dammit, it tasted AWESOME)

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