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How can I make a firm risotto, without using the appropriate rice?


I'm italian, and I've been cooking delicious risotto for years.
But in the place where I'm living right now there is only one kind of rice, with medium-long white grain, and no matter how carefully I could prepare it, the result is always a disappointing mashed blob...

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You may get some links on the possibilities (which look rather bleak) here: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/7976/… –  justkt Oct 21 '10 at 19:05

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

From my answer on another question (that justkt linked in the comments):

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/tastetests/overview.asp?docid=13283

Arborio rice, the classic choice for risotto, contains roughly 19 to 21 percent amylose. However, that is not the only difference. The desirable "bite" in risotto is due to a defect in Arborio rice called chalk. During maturation, the starch structures at the grain's core deform, making for a firm, toothy center when cooked.

Sorry, but for the best risotto, you really need an appropriate rice.

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Arborio will pretty much turn into risotto naturally...If you cook it like regular rice, you'll get a starchy risotto-y mess. The rice makes a huge difference.

I have seen what I'd call "poor mans risotto" or "quick risotto" made by substituting arborio with orzo. Pretty decent results in less time. You make it pretty much the same, but orzo being a pasta, it cooks more quickly, and needs less liquid.

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Pasta is the end product. Orzo means barley, a cereal. Of course, one can think about a barley-flour pasta. –  MaD70 Oct 27 '10 at 15:21

You'll need a thick grained rice for risotto, long grained won't do. Off course Arborio is the best rice for risotto, but otherwise you will need a thick grain.

Ask your local retailer to buy Arborio or another rice of choice. They may comply. I've asked for a specific bland of coffee in my village, and got it (expensive, but better than nothing). I told them that, if they couldn't sell it to anybody else, I would buy it.

Good luck

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