In the 14th century, rice was introduced into Italy, where the plains of Piedmont and Lombardy have been the major farming areas for the grain.
Naturally, the dish risotto, featuring rice, originated in the northwestern part of the country.
Properly cooked risotto should be rich and creamy but still contain separate grains that give rise to some chewy (al dente) bites.
However, eating half-cooked rice is not something Asians are fond of.
Having considered the cultural differences, Singapore-based Michelin three-star chef Bruno Ménard has come up with an alternative ingredient: buckwheat.
Buckwheat noodles often features in the Japanese and Korean cuisines.
In France and Poland, people often have buckwheat in bread, crêpes or porridge.
The brown grain is also a very healthy choice. It is rich in dietary fiber, containing almost 10 times more than the refined rice grain.
However, people with weak digestive systems should avoid overconsumption of buckwheat, as it might cause indigestion.
Ménard suggests pairing buckwheat risotto with tender cod, which is rich in fish oil, making it suitable for slow cooking.
This is the recipe he used for a cooking demonstration he did recently in Hong Kong:
Ingredients (5 portions)
Risotto:- 250g buckwheat, 75g Candia 30% fat UHT cooking cream, black pepper, salt
Cod fillets:- 750g cod fillets, 5ml olive oil, lime juice, 12.5g Viking salt, 12.5g Espelette pepper
Seasoning:- 8.3g Japanese buckwheat tea, flat parsley leaves, 125g macadamia nuts, beef glace, 5ml olive oil, lemon peel, 62.5g Maldon salt, half a stalk of celery
1. Cook the buckwheat in water with a bit of salt until the texture suits you. Refrigerate it for later use.
2. Cut the cod into five fillets and marinate each with olive oil, Espelette pepper, Viking salt and lime juice.
3. Put the cod fillets into zipper bags and put them into 65 degree Celsius hot water until the core temperature of the fish reaches 45C.
4. Bake the macadamia nuts until golden yellow in oven at 150C. Meanwhile, cut the celery into five pieces and boil them.
5. Heat the pan with olive oil. Cook the buckwheat with the cooking cream. Add some black pepper.
6. Place the risotto in the dish first, then the cod fillet, seasoning and celery, and top it with a spoonful of foam cream.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 9.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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