Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Risotto hell.

Somebody please put an end to my misery. Why the fuck can't I make risotto?

3rd attempt last night to cook it and it still takes me twice the time (about an hour at least) for the rice to cook, and twice the stock as the recipe says.

After hours slaving over the stove last night I was THIS CLOSE to saying "FUCK IT THEN!!! I didn't want to eat you anyway!" and tipping it straight in the bin.

Instead I ate it crunchy and gluey and I can't bear to look at the leftovers in the fridge.

My stock is hot, ladleful at a time, stirring heaps, correct rice...

What am I doing wrong?


  1. I'm not a risotto expert, but this is how I do it, and it works alright.


    1 x onion, diced
    1 x packet smoked tofu or tofu with olives
    2 x garlic cloves, chopped fine
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 x butternut squash, cubed
    2 handfuls of mushrooms
    fresh chives, basil, parsley
    lots of fresh spinach
    1 cup risotto rice
    1 tbsp vegetable bouillion

    Fry the onions, garlic and salt in oil. After 3 minutes, add the tofu and butternut squash. After 7 minutes add the mushrooms and risotto rice. After 2 minutes add vegetable bouillion and 1 cup of water.

    As the water starts to disappear, add more. And keep stirring it. At some point, add in all the chopped spinch. Keep stirring. Add water. Stir.

    If it's crunchy, you need more water and more patience!

  2. Risotto is one of those horrible dishes to make, with loads of stirring. If it taking too long maybe you don't have the heat turned up enough or are not adding enough liquid at one time. There are a few recipes for baked risotto here:http://www.veggienumnum.com/2010/05/baked-risotto-w-green-veggies/

  3. I had years of not getting risotto so I empathise - my epiphany came when I started heating the stock - actually I use stock cubes and boil the kettle - but also I make sure that the gas flame is hot enough that the risotto is constantly simmering away and absorbing the liquid - which means I have to stir constantly to keep the rice for sticking to the bottom of the pot. Sorry if that is obvious - it occurred to me because I made risotto tonight and started out with it on a low flame and it wouldn't simmer. Good luck - hope you find your risotto mojo

  4. Thanks guys. I do keep the stock simmering on the stove next to the risotto, and the risotto is bubbling the whole time. MAYBE I'm not putting in enough liquid each time.

    Otherwise, I'm throwing in the pan, and going for the baked risotto.

  5. Risotto can be a joyous vegan staple, well-made it can impress and exalt the server into reverential status. It is also a dish that requires the cook to be, for lack of a better word, brutal. It is the 'starving and denial' process that makes an ordinary risotto into a fucking great risotto.

    You have the 'right' rice, your stock/miso is gently simmering/hot on a fired up element. Your outcome is gluey and crunchy. The possible culprit is too much heat under the risotto, and possibly that you are drowning the risotto. Starve it.

    After sauteing of onions and garlic, etc(try not to overwhelm the pot with vegetables, cook them separately until you get the hang of the risotto), turn down the heat and while you are heating the stock, add the rice gradually, and stir to coat. When you can see the rice turning clear, shiny and the oil looks creamy from rice starch, add one ladle of stock. Stir. Wait for rice to absorb all the liquid. Starve it for a few more turns. Ladle in stock/wine. Stir. Wait, while stirring for it to absorb the liquid. Add liquid. Drink a glass of wine. Stir. Starve risotto. Add liquid. Stir. Call for a stirring buddy. Add liquid. Watch as someone else takes over.

    I never measure stock. Rice can be weird depending on weather. Grains are affected by moisture in the air. This makes my arm hurt but it is pleasing to eat while weather is cold and you're slightly drink from wine and niceness of food smells.


  6. Thanks B! Hmm.. I actually wondered if I was starving it too much! Maybe I will give it one more shot....

  7. Hi Niki, love your blog. I too am in Melbourne and recently started a veggie blog. I'd love to link to yours. Is that okay? thanks, Justine http://justinehodge.wordpress.com/

  8. Risotto is evil. It saps the will to live of all who try to cook it, and it demeans and degrades all vegetarians and vegans forced to eat it when it is the only choice in pub bistros. Sisters and brothers, we should not be forced to eat or cook what is essentially just soggy rice. Just say no to risotto.

  9. Hi there . You sound like you are doing everything right- from the hot stock to one ladel at a time etc. A risotto should take less than half and hour from the moment it starts to cook. My only other suggestion and this is from a chef who has cooked hundreds of risottos ( and who could still be wrong) is, are you adding salt to the risotto as you are cooking it out? i guess a salty stock base( miso or store bought stock which often contains salt) would apply also. A very well regarded Italian chef i worked for in Melbs once swore that you were never to add salt to risotto as it cooks as it toughens the rice grain taking it a long time to absorb water. season once the rice has cooked. Try making your own stock perhaps and give it another go! good luck :)

  10. Niki, is your first liquid addition white wine? Try that - saute your veggies, add the rice and stir it up so it's coated with oil, and then let it cook, stirring frequently but not constantly, for a minute or so. Then add the white wine and let it cook off, stirring but not constantly. After the wine has been absorbed, add your broth about 1/2 cup at a time - I usually use room temperature broth and I've still had success...and I'm not normally very good at rice.

    On the other hand, my husband hates risotto, so I haven't had too many opportunities to play with it. There is a recipe for a pea and pepper risotto for one on my blog, though - give it a try and see if it works better for you:

  11. Like Natalie above, I also use a glass of wine as the first liquid I add to the risotto. At the right heat the alcohol burns off very quickly and you are left with a very fragrant aroma. However, before adding the wine the first thing to do is heat the risotto rice (aborio, canaroli etc.) over a high heat whilst stirring till it becomes almost translucent in appearance. This is then the point that you add the white wine before reducing the temperature and beginning the process of adding a ladle-full at a time of hot stock. Adding each ladle-full after the other has evaporated.

  12. Oh, I'm a bit late with my reply. This is the best advice, really it is! First, pour two glasses of wine, one for the risotto and one for you to sip while you PATIENTLY stir and add the stock, one ladle at a time. It will take an hour so it's not a bad dish to make when a friend is over so you can ladle, stir, drink, chat and voila! Before you know it you will have a creamy, soft risotto with no glug in site, you'll have downed a wine and had an hour's worth of great conversation (hopefully). Jamie Oliver's basic risotto recipe is perfect and you can easily veganise by using Massel stock and omitting the cheese. You can flavour it any way you like toward the end, eg. roast pumpkin, spinach, pine nuts, mushrooms, lemon zest and juice. Mmm, think we will have risotto tomorrow. x

  13. I made last night for the first time and it was beautiful! I used 1 and a half cups of aborio (sp?) rice, half a cup of white wine, and 6 cups of stock.

    Tempted to say maybe it was too hot so too much water could be evaporating? But I had mine reeeeal hot and it was fine

  14. Invitation to share in vegan dumplings next weekend :)

    An evening of dumpling making, cooking and eating. Live music and beer!

    Sunday 17th April - 354 Smith street, Collingwood

    More info -



  15. This is the risotto I make at home as I'm a GF vegan.
    I haven't had a problem with it as of yet.

  16. Are you cooking the rice first in oil until a glossy, transparent sheen, then adding the rest?