220 g (1 cup) samp
500 ml water for soaking
1 L water, for cooking
5 ml salt
30 ml oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100 g large brown mushrooms, sliced
625 ml (2½ cups) cooked samp
750 ml hot chicken stock
125 g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
15 g fresh rosemary, chopped
15 g fresh parsley, chopped
60 g butter
To make the samp: Soak the samp in water for 1 hour. Drain the water and place the soaked samp in a medium saucepan. Pour fresh water over the samp in the saucepan. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the samp has swelled up and is soft, but still has a ‘bite’ to it. Set aside.
To make the risotto: In a large frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the onion for 4 minutes until soft and translucent, but not caramelised. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Now add the mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes until soft and slightly crunchy.
Add the samp and stir well. Pour in the hot chicken stock about ¼ cup at a time, stirring gently until all the stock has been transferred to the pan. Continue stirring until the samp has a creamy consistency.
Stir in the Parmesan and herbs. Add the butter and stir until melted. Keep warm as the dish is now ready to serve.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of making risotto. Once you have mastered these easy steps – a South African take on an old culinary classic − you’ll find it to be a hearty go-to. It’s also a very versatile dish. I like to serve it as a stand-alone meal topped with pea shoots, with a drizzling of basil pesto and Parmesan shavings. My other trick is to make it part of a showstopper meal, such as when I use it as an accompaniment to lamb shanks or good, old-fashioned, pot-roasted chicken.