Japanese Lemon Herb Risotto

In Recipe by Sean8 Comments

Japanese Lemon Herb Risotto

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat – risotto is not exactly what you’d call Japanese food. But Japan has had an interest in Italian food for a very long time, and it’s never been shy about adapting it to Japanese tastes. Westerners living in Japan introduced certain elements over the decades, but things really picked up with the flow of American GIs who arrived with truckloads of spaghetti following WWII. Nowadays you’ll find an entire category of wafu (Japanese-style) pasta dishes like mentaiko spaghetti, uni pasta, and shiso pasta.

But what about rice? Japan hasn’t traditionally messed around too much with rice, preferring to keep it quite simple. Even ‘classic’ Japanese dishes like donburi (rice bowls with toppings) were met with considerable disapproval when first introduced. But this isn’t exactly a wafu dish, but a hybrid of Italian technique and some Japanese flavours. I developed this dish to test out a few theories I had about risotto and Japanese ingredients, and I’m quite glad I did, because the end result was spectacular and just distinctive enough to raise a few (probably Italian) eyebrows.

First and foremost, this dish foregoes the fancy risotto rice varieties like Arborico or Carnaroli in favour of cheap and simple Japanese short-grain white rice. The small, plump, starchy grains turn out to work perfectly as a base for risotto as they absorb liquid beautifully, becoming sticky and creamy without losing their shape or texture. Secondly, the dish swaps out white wine for sake, which contributes a sharp but pleasingly mellow flavour to the dish.

If you’ve ever wanted to try risotto but you’ve been uncertain about the technique or uninterested in forking out the money for expensive rice, I seriously suggest you give this a shot. It’s creamy, cheesy, and rich the way you want a risotto to be, but bright and fresh with the taste of lemon and parsley. It stands beautifully on its own or as the base for another dish (like this Ginger Karashi Chicken, shown at the bottom of this post). As for the technique, it’s actually not that tough to pull off – just make sure you have everything ready to go before you start, and keep a close eye on things as you work.

Buon appetito, or itadakimasu.  Either way, yum.

Recipe Notes

If you want to take this even further in a Japanese direction and you happen to have fantastic access to some fairly specific ingredients, there are two variations that you can follow.

First, you can swap out all or part of the lemon juice with yuzu juice (which you can get bottled at Japanese grocery stores). If you’re lucky enough to get actual yuzu fruit, you can also swap out the zest. Yuzu will impart a flavour that is somewhere between lemon and orange, with a very slightly bitter, almost herbal quality. Regardless of the fruit you use, thin strips of zest (as opposed to grated) are ideal for adding little punches of flavour to the dish.

Second, you can swap out the parsley for mitsuba (sometimes called Japanese trefoil). The leafy green herb is a relative of parsley, and it has a flavour somewhere between parsley and celery.

If you want to go away from the Japanese flavours altogether and bring this back into the realm of ‘pure’ Italian cooking, use white wine and make sure to watch your cook times carefully. This might sound like sacrilege, but if you can’t find (or don’t want to pay for) a good risotto rice variety, try out Japanese shortgrain rice. You might be surprised.

If you want to make this dish vegetarian, simply swap out the chicken stock for a good quality vegetable stock.

Make sure you use a good, fresh flat-leaf parsley; curly parsley often has a weaker flavour and a less pleasant texture.


Nutrition Facts
Japanese Lemon Herb Risotto
Amount Per Serving
Calories 433 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 23%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 957mg 40%
Potassium 144mg 4%
Total Carbohydrates 59g 20%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 0.2g
Protein 10g 20%
Vitamin A 11%
Vitamin C 9%
Calcium 16%
Iron 18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional Summary

GOOD NEWS:
This dish is rich, but it’s also quite filling, so it’s relatively easy to eat in moderation (hopefully).  Low in cholesterol.

BAD NEWS:
It’s risotto, so there’s a lot of cheese and butter.  This makes for a fair bit of fat and salt.  But hey, it’s risotto!  Skip dessert and just eat this.

Ingredient Pages

No Ingredient Pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

Pantry Pages

No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

  • Reduced meat
  • Vegetarian option
  • Gluten free

Recent Japanese Recipes

Sort By Rand
  • Ginger and karashi mustard chicken, shown here on a bed of Japanese lemon-herb risotto - Diversivore.com
    Ginger Karashi Chicken
    Tangy, sweet, a little hot - these are packed with flavour and surprisingly healthy. They also show how versatile and easy to love Japanese ingredients can be.
  • Wafu Hambagu - Japanese-style Hamburger with a scratch-made ponzu, karashi mustard, and daikon oroshi - Diversivore.com
    Wafu Hambagu
    The hamburger knows no borders. It is a food of the world (rightly so). Japan grabbed hold of the ubiquitous patty many years ago and gave the world this....
  • Mandelo (Cocktail Grapefruit) Zaru Soba - cold Japanese buckwheat noodles with a citrus dipping sauce (mentsuyu) - Diversivore.com
    Mandelo Zaru Soba (Cold Buckwheat Noodles with Cocktail Grapefruit Sauce)
    A simple but delicious cold noodle dish with a unique citrus component, perfect for any time of the year.
  • Appetizer portion of beef tataki with ponzu, watermelon radishes, and scallions - Diversivore.com
    Beef Tataki with Ponzu
    When it comes to beef tenderloin, less is more. This recipe is all about balancing powerful flavours and letting the incredible, tender taste of the fillet shine through....
  • Dark chocolate mousse with candied kumquats - Diversivore.com
    Dark Chocolate Mousse with Candied Kumquats
    It's hard to beat a classic like chocolate mousse. But there are just so many great things that you can pair with chocolate - like amazing, decadent candied...
  • Japanese Simmered Cauliflower Leaves with Potatoes - Diversivore.com
    Japanese Simmered Cauliflower Leaves with Potatoes
    We waste a lot of food in North America, but many of us don't realize just how much food we're wasting simply because we don't realize it's actually food....
  • Charred Shishito Peppers with Sweet Togarashi Spice - Diversivore.com
    Charred Shishito Peppers with Sweet Togarashi Spice
    Simple, healthy, and incredibly snack-worthy, these wonderful little Japanese peppers are charred in a pan or on the grill, then tossed with sake and a sweet-and-spicy mixture of sugar...
  • Japanese nettle soup - vegan and gluten free, made with miso - Diversivore.com
    Japanese Nettle Soup
    Nettles are great in soup - there's no doubt about that. But given their already exotic and unusual status, it's not uncommon for them to be pigeonholed into one...
  • Miso Grilled Corn
    There's nothing like Japanese grilled food, but there's no reason for meat to get all of the love. Succulent, sweet corn on the cob get's the an amazing...
  • Kitsune nabe - miso hot pot with vegetables, fried tofu and quail eggs - Diversivore.com
    Kitsune Nabe
    A fox skulks through the forest, brushing past mushrooms and deep green leaves. Finding a clutch of unattended eggs, she helps herself. Unsatisfied, she suddenly transforms into...
  • Japanese lemon herb risotto, made with sake in place of white wine and short grain Japanese rice -DJapanese lemon herb risotto, made with sake in place of white wine and short grain Japanese rice - Diversivore.com
    Japanese Lemon Herb Risotto
    Sometimes culinary worlds cross more easily than you'd imagine. A few simple Japanese twists plus bright taste of lemon, and you get this unforgettable dish.
  • Allergy-friendly Chicken Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatball skewers) made without wheat, dairy, or eggs - Diversivore.com
    Allergy-friendly Chicken Meatball Tsukune
    Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatballs) is a classic yakitori specialty, but like most meatballs, it's tough to get a great result without breadcrumbs and/or eggs (two very common allergens)....
  • Cucamelon Sunomono made with shirataki noodles and green daikon - Diversivore.com
    Cucamelon Sunomono
    The world's cutest fruit/vegetable gets all dressed up in this simple, incredible, vegan Japanese salad. Green daikon and carb-free calorie-free shirataki noodles round things out. This amazing appetizer...
  • Bacon wrapped shimeji mushroom kushiyaki with a homemade tare sauce - Diversivore.com
    Bacon-wrapped Shimeji Mushroom Kushiyaki
    Bacon's never a bad idea. Especially not when it gets to partner with a fantastic, flavourful, just-sweet-enough Japanese tare (teriyaki) sauce.
  • Ponzu sauce (ponzu shoyu), made from scratch, with salmon and tuna sashimi and shredded daikon - Diversivore.com
    Ponzu Sauce
    Ponzu sauce is a Japanese citrus-based sauce, popularly used as a condiment and a marinade.  It's also delicious, and shockingly easy to make.
  • Keta Salmon Sushi Stacks with miso kabocha squash, marinated cucumbers, and keta salmon eggs - Diversivore.com
    Keta Salmon Sushi Stacks
    We're a little spoiled for choice when it comes to salmon around here, and keta salmon often doesn't get the respect it deserves because of the way it looks....

Share this Recipe

Japanese lemon herb risotto, made with sake in place of white wine and short grain Japanese rice -DJapanese lemon herb risotto, made with sake in place of white wine and short grain Japanese rice - Diversivore.com
Japanese Lemon Herb Risotto
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings Prep Time
6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 15 minutes
Japanese lemon herb risotto, made with sake in place of white wine and short grain Japanese rice -DJapanese lemon herb risotto, made with sake in place of white wine and short grain Japanese rice - Diversivore.com
Japanese Lemon Herb Risotto
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings Prep Time
6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Bring the stock and 2 tbsp of lemon juice to a simmer on the stovetop, then cover and keep over low heat. The stock needs to be hot when added to the rice, so don't let it cool down too much.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the shallots and saute until soft and fragrant; about 5 minutes. If the shallots begin to brown, reduce the heat and (if necessary) add a little more olive oil.
  3. Add the rice and stir for about 1 minute. The rice will begin to sound squeaky as it cooks, but it should not begin to brown or toast.
  4. Add the wine to the pot and cook until the liquid is more-or-less evaporated.
  5. Add 1.5 cups of stock and simmer gently until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, waiting until the liquid is mostly absorbed before adding more. The rice should look quite creamy at this point, and the entire process should take about 30-40 minutes. Once the last of the stock is absorbed, remove a few grains of rice and taste them. They should be slightly al dente - that is, they should have a little firmness, but not a distinctive crunch. If they're still too firm, add about 1/2 cup of very hot water and continue to cook.
  6. Stir the cheese and the remaining butter into the rice, cover, and remove from heat. Allow the risotto to sit for about 10 minutes to finish cooking - do not remove the lid!
  7. Stir the lemon zest, remaining lemon juice, and chopped parsley into the risotto. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Simply substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock in order to make this a vegetarian meal.

Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe
text copyright www.diversivore.com

Comments

  1. I love those hybrids recipes! Especially when it’s 2 great cuisines mixing it up! I love that you use full on japanese flavors, the sake instead of the wine, it’s genius! A must try ASAP recipe! Great work!

    1. Author

      Thank you Marie! It was a fun experiment, and it worked out so well I just had to share it. I know fusion food gets a bit of a bad reputation, but when you try fusing fundamental techniques and/or really paying service to the ingredients, you get some pretty amazing results. Glad you like the recipe – thanks for commenting!

    1. Author

      Absolutely! I do find some veggie broths can be a little dark, but that’s a minor complaint, and from a flavour perspective (and of course keeping it vegetarian), it’s a great way to go!

  2. This looks so delicious Sean! I am looking forward to make this when I have guests over 🙂 Lemon gives a delicate flavor to rice and I am happy you included it in this recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Author

      Thank you Kelly! I hope it works out well for you. Lemon risotto is so great in general, especially given the way it lightens up such a rich dish. I think the sake had an interesting and similarly ‘bright’ effect. It was a fun recipe to develop. Cheers!

    1. Author

      Hey Justine! I would love to know if a dairy-free risotto was possible. Perhaps something similar with a good quality cashew based cream product? It would need something else too – probably in the form of nutritional yeast or another glutamate-rich/umami ingredient. I’ll certainly let you know if I ever manage to conduct a successful experiment!!

Leave a Comment