Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Risotto with Scallops, Lettuce and Parma Ham

The heatwave is making me not want to eat hot food, but many decades of indoctrination are fighting against this instinct. I only recently gave up trying to prepare two hot meals a day for the children! Haven't done much Chinese food at all lately, although I should really have a go at one of my HK favourites, cold sesame noodles with shredded chicken and cucumber.

Cooking with lettuce isn't really a common British thing to do, although we do it quite a lot in Chinese cooking. From chopping up a couple of leaves and adding them to our noodles, to stir-frying them with fermented beancurd (腐乳) for a tasty dish, I love the crunchy bitterness of cooked lettuce.

Tonight I thought I would make a risotto, but didn't want anything too heavy. The delicacy of the scallops married well with the lettuce, which was added towards the end of the dish. A slice of crispy parma ham gave my dish a bit of a poncy finish, but it provided a nice contrast to the softness of the risotto.


  • 90g (1 handful) scallops, sliced through the middle (1 scallop makes 2 discs)
  • 150g risotto rice e.g. arborio or carnaroli
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped finely - I only had a red onion but a brown onion or even better, shallots, would be fine
  • 20g butter
  • 5-6 leaves of hearts of romaine or cos lettuce, torn into rough pieces
  • 1 handful of finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock e.g. Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon
  • Handful of chopped parsley (I was missing this, but would definitely add it if I had it to hand)
  • 2 slices of parma ham
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Ground black pepper to taste
Serves 2


  • Melt the butter in a heavy based pan and add the chopped onions. Stir for 1 minute until the onions are glossy and translucent
  • Add the risotto and stir well, ensuring that every grain is coated in the butter. When the grains start to look translucent on the outside, add the white wine and continue to stir until the wine is absorbed
  • Keep the vegetable stock on a simmering heat next to the risotto, and add it a ladle-ful at a time, stirring continuously, until the stock is absorbed by the rice. The whole process should take around 25-30 minutes, and is ready when the rice is softened, but still with some bite
  • Around 10 minutes before the end, heat 1 tbsp sunflower oil in a frying pan (if your pan is non-stick you might be able to get away without the oil). Add the two slices of parma ham, and fry until crispy. Put on a warmed plate into a low oven
  • Add the lettuce to the risotto a couple of minutes before the end of cooking, and stir to mix, until the lettuce is wilted and slightly softened. Add the parmesan and chopped parsley, and ground black pepper to taste. Mix well to combine
  • Without wiping it, add the scallops to the same frying pan and brown over a high heat - the residue from the parma ham will give the scallops a lovely colour. Once sealed all over, the scallops will be pretty much done
  • Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls and scatter the scallops over the top. Add a slice of parma ham to finish the dish

Risotto with Scallops, Lettuce and Parma Ham

1 comment: