Risotto was one of those dishes that we made only for special occasions back home - mostly because the required type of rice - arborio - was an expensive, specialty rice. Well, it turns out that Japanese rice (aka sushi rice) is a decent substitute for arborio, and we have a 10 kilo sack of the stuff at home. Risotto time!

Here's Kenzo's recipe, modified for ingredients found in Japan.

Makes 2 servings.

1 medium sized onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of Japanese rice (short grain)
1/2 cup of sake
3 cups of chicken stock
3 tbsp butter
a handful of Parmesan cheese*
Cooked toppings: eg. mushrooms, chicken, small pieces of carrot...

1. Dice the onion into small pieces. In a frying pan, sauté them on medium-low heat in olive oil until limp.

2. Add the rice (do NOT wash the rice first) and stir in the pan in order to coat all the grains with the delicious onion-flavored oil. Continue stirring over low-medium heat until the grains start to look translucent (about 2-3 minutes).

3. Next, pour in the sake (this is for flavoring as well as to pick up any caramelized bits of onion from the pan). Continue stirring until most of it has been absorbed.

4. Now, add about 2/3 cups of chicken stock into the pan, and stir until the stock has been mostly absorbed. Do this until all of the chicken stock has been absorbed. It should take about 20 minutes with 3 more additions of chicken stock.

While the rice is cooking, prepare some toppings to flavour the risotto. For example, we just cut some leftover carrot and eggplant and grilled it on the side. You can also just sauté the vegetables in a pan on a second burner, and even add some strips of chicken to make it meat-a-tarian.

5. When you pour the last (4th cup) of stock in the pan, stir in those toppings as well. When all of the chicken stock has been absorbed (warning: the rice should still be wet, with ~1tsp of liquid still visible), turn off the heat.

6. Fold in the butter and Parmesan cheese - it should have a creamy texture. That's it!

Serve immediately to prevent dryness. Bon appetit!

* Here in Kyoto we can only seem to find Kraft Parmesan :( Real stuff would be better, to add a gooey texture, but the powdery kind adds flavour, at least.

Cost for 2: 290 yen

Rice (385g) @ 3000 yen/1kg ................55 yen
Onion (1) @ 100 yen/10 onion ..............10 yen
Olive oil (30ml) @ 250 yen/350ml ..........20 yen
Sake (100ml) @ 100 yen/200ml ..............50 yen
Chicken stock (600ml) @ 250 yen/6300ml ....25 yen
Butter (1/7 stick) @ 350 yen/stick ........50 yen
Parmesan (1/10) @ 400 yen/can .............40 yen
Carrots (1/3) @ 100 yen/3 sticks ..........15 yen
Eggplant (3/4) @ 128 yen/4 ................25 yen

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