After I attempted to go keto, I decided to dive deeper into Mediterranean cuisine. This type of cuisine seemed natural and familiar to me as a Spanish and Italian descendant. I enjoyed preparing all sorts of Mediterranean dishes for several months, including the traditional pumpkin risotto. A month ago, I decided to get my toes wet in Asian cuisine, and I got a Japanese cookbook. By preparing the recipes, I gained familiarity with the Japanese ingredients and ways of cooking. I realized the base of Japanese cuisine is the dashi, which is nothing more than a seaweed broth. I also developed liking for the kabocha squash. These two ingredients inspired me to try out this fusion dish that turned out to be delicious. 

I replaced most of the ingredients of the risotto with Japanese counterparts: Sake and mirin for wine, kabocha for regular squash, sesame oil for olive oil, and so on. Initially, I wanted to make it entirely Japanese by using sushi rice, which, like risotto kinds of rice, is very starchy, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any available, so I decided to make it a fusion dish. If you happen to try this recipe and use sushi rice, I’d be very interested in how it turns out. For the seasoning, I rely on the saltiness of soy sauce. Finally, the shichimi togarashi gave it the level of umami I was looking for.

This is my take on a Japanese risotto.

You most likely will have about one to two cups of leftover dashi, if that is the case, one good use to it is to prepare some miso soup, which is a perfect starter for the risotto. Bon appetit!

Kabocha And Shiitake Risotto

Japanese inspired risotto.
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Japanese, Mediterranean
Keyword: asian, fusion, japanese, kabocha, risotto, shiitake
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 379kcal

Ingredients

For the Dashi

  • 6 cup Water
  • 1 Sheet of Kombu Size of about 4×4''
  • 5 g Bonito Flakes Optional

For the Risotto

  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil Toasted
  • 4 White Parts of Scallions Chopped finely, green parts reserved.
  • 1/2 Onion Minced
  • 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 6 Shiitake Mushrooms Medium-sized.
  • 2 clove Garlic Minced
  • 1 tsp Thyme Fresh
  • 1/2 cup Mirin
  • 1/2 cup Sake
  • 1 cup Arborio Rice It could be carnaroli, or another risotto rice.
  • 1/2 Kabocha Squash Peeled and cut into 1/2'' cubes.
  • 2 tbsp Rice Vinegar

For the Garnishes

  • 4 Green Parts of Scallions Chopped Coarsely
  • 2 piece Nori Cut into tiny squares.
  • Shichimi togarashi to taste
  • Soy Sauce to taste.

Instructions

To prepare the dashi.

  • In a medium saucepan, add the water and kombu, bring to a gentle simmer.
  • As soon as the water starts to simmer, remove and discard the kombu.
  • If using bonito flakes, place them on a noodle strainer and submerge in the dashi for 2 minutes, then remove.
  • Reduce heat to low to keep the dashi warm.

To prepare the risotto.

  • In a dutch oven in medium heat, bring the oil to a gentle simmer but not over the smoke point.
  • Add the scallions, onion, and salt, cook until softened, 4 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms, cook until they start to release their liquid, 2 minutes.
  • Add garlic and thyme, cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the rice, cook until the edges become translucent, 2 minutes.
  • Incorporate the sake and mirin, stir until the liquid is fully absorbed.
  • Add the kabocha squash.
  • Add 3/4 cup of the dashi, continually stirring until it's fully absorbed.
  • Keep adding the dashi by 3/4 cup until the rice is fully cooked, around 40 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, stir in the rice vinegar and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Plate the risotto adding nori, scallions, Shichimi togarashi, and soy sauce to taste.