Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Memories of Ibiza

Every year me and my two best girlfriends take a trip together.  These "Girl's Vacations" have really kept us close despite the hundreds and thousands of miles that have separated us since college.  A few years ago, we decided to spend 10 days in Spain.  A few days in Madrid, then a short flight out to Ibiza.  We quickly discovered that, dare I say, we're getting a little old for the party scene that makes Ibiza so popular.  We gave it our best effort though, and managed to stay out until sunrise on a couple occasions.

Some of my most memorable experiences from that trip aren't the parties and craziness, but the times when just the 3 of us sat around a table, eating and talking, both reminiscing and questioning the future.  The meals served at those tables didn't really matter - one night we simply drank sangria and ate chips and guacamole on our hotel patio.  And that night in particular was one of the most memorable nights of the trip, one we still talk about to this day.

I have been thinking about a particular meal I had in Ibiza ever since the day I ordered it.  Gingered Risotto with Scallops.  I remember thinking that ginger seemed like such an odd ingredient for risotto.  It was divine.  I finally decided to try my hand at recreating that dish, but with some adaptations of my own.

For the Risotto:
I've already discussed my love of risotto, to read up go here.  Its a basic recipe that is so easily adaptable.  I changed up a couple ingredients to give it a more "asian" flare this time.

1C Arborio rice
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 - 1/2 C dry wine (I used a nice Rose')
2-3 C chicken stock/broth
1/2 C snap peas, sliced (from my CSA box)
1/2 C shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 C Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1/2 tsp hot sesame oil, optional, depending on how spicy you like your food
1-2 tbsps crystallized ginger, minced
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

First, prep the non-rice ingredients (snap peas, mushrooms, parm, etc) because once you start with the rice you have to stir constantly and won't have time to do any other prep work.

The nice thing about risotto is that the method never changes.  You'll need 2 saucepans - one for the risotto and one for the stock.  Heat the stock over med-low heat, just to keep it warm.  In the other pan melt down 1/2 tbsp butter and 1/2 tbsp olive oil.

Add the green onions to the butter/olive oil and cook until soft, about 5min.  Add the rice and stir to coat all the rice kernels with the butter/oil mixture and slightly toast them, 2-3min or so.  Next add the wine and stir until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid.  Now is the "fun time" when you start the slow additions of stock and continuous stirring.... for about 15-25 minutes.

When the rice is almost done, add the mushrooms, snap peas, grated ginger, hot sesame oil, and 3 tbsps parm.  Stir to combine, you'll probably need one more addition of stock, and let it cook together for a couple more minutes.  Remove from heat, and stir in the crystallized ginger.

For the Scallops
I used frozen bay scallops.  I thawed them under cold running water and dried them with paper towels.  Season with some salt and pepper.  Heat up a skillet over med-high heat with some butter and olive oil. Add dried, seasoned scallops and don't move them.  You want the natural sugars to caramelize and sear so don't be tempted to "stir" the scallops. Just let them go for a minute or two, then shake the pan to flip them over, and leave them alone again for another minute or two.  Then remove from heat. Don't overcook!  An overcooked scallop is the worst thing ever.... such a waste!

Serve the risotto topped with your scallops and a sprinkle of the remaining Parmesan cheese.  I had a nice glass of my Rose' with this dinner, and Boyfriend chose a glass of hefty Barolo.  For more about this Rose', check out my wine blog.

Boyfriend is a big fan of ginger and told me numerous times that he loved this and I'd have to make it again.  I plan to... it was sooo good!  The texture and sweetness of the scallops was a perfect compliment to the sharp, biting ginger.

It wasn't exactly what I had in Ibiza, but it was darn close.

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