This year’s spring is marked with bright colours and taste explosions. Together with gourmet chef Arne Behnck from Berlin, we start off our Four Season Special 2014 with a three course Saffron menu that’s designed to not only tantalise your taste buds but to wow and surprise as well. Enjoy the stunning recipe for his first course: Saffron-Risotto with shrimps and green asparagus.
First, soften the saffron threads in warm water to develop their taste and colour.
Peel the shrimps, clean and devein (unmistakably located on the back) and make roughly 1 – 1.5 centimetre incisions into the head ends; so they are shown off to their full effect later on through the heat of cooking.
Grate the Parmesan. Please note: the finer it is grated, the more intense the flavour is.
Halve the asparagus and wash the rice under cold water, so that it does not stick when boiling.
Finely dice the onion and add to cold fat, oil or butter to sweat. This helps to monitor when they are just done.
Once the diced onions are golden in colour, add the rice and briefly fry. Continuous stirring right from the beginning is necessary to avoid the rice from sticking or clumping.
After briefly sautéing, deglaze the rice. Behnck uses Crémant here, but wine, Prosecco, water or vegetable stock are suitable as well.
Then add the stock to cover the rice by a finger’s breadth. As soon as all liquid has been absorbed by the rice, add more stock and repeat until all stock is used up whilst keeping it at a medium heat. In the end add the saffron and gently stir in the risotto.
Finally, add the raw shrimps and green asparagus to the risotto and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off for this to stop the risotto from overcooking.
The existing heat is enough to gently cook the asparagus and the sea food in the risotto. Shortly before serving, fold in the cream and Parmesan and briefly reheat. Season with a little freshly milled white pepper – and it’s finished.
The appetizers can now be served.
Due to the risotto rice’s starch content it has the ability to go creamy on the outside but al dente on the inside – which is why it needs to move about throughout the whole process.
Expert’s wine tip: you absolutely must enjoy the same Crémant, wine or Prosecco, used for deglazing, with this risotto. That way, the harmony stays intact.