This is my new favourite recipe and combines two of my favourite ingredients- asparagus and scallops. It is a great dish to serve for a dinner party and the is easily changeable for dietary restrictions. When I make it for a large group, I use vegetable stock and substitute olive oil for butter and serve it without the scallops for vegan guests, add the scallops for guests with a dairy intolerance and then add the cheese and butter but leave off the scallops to serve it to vegetarian guests. —woo wei-duan
asparagus, rinsed, ends snapped, stalks peeled and tips cut off and reserved
Heat the stock and bring to a boil. Heating the stock ensures that the rice cooks evenly and within the right amount of time.
Meanwhile mix 100 mls boiling water and 30 grams sea salt until combined. Add 400 mls cold water to the salt water and add the scallops to brine for no more than 10 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels to dry.
Cut the asparagus stalks into 3 cm pieces, reserving the tips for later.
Add the asparagus to the stock for 3 to 5 minutes until tender.
Cool the stock and bit and puree the stock with the asparagus.
Add 40 grams of butter, the olive oil, shallot and garlic to a risotto pan or large sauce pan.
Heat the shallot mixture over medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes.
Add the risotto.
Stir constantly to toast until it makes a squeaking noise, for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the white wine and allow it to evaporate. Add the 400 ml of stock, 1 ladleful at a time until almost cooked and salt to taste. Keep enough liquid in the pan and stir continuously so that the rice does not stick to the pan and cooks evenly.
When the rice is done to your liking (Italians eat risotto with the centre a bit hard and there should be a lot of liquid in with the rice but should not be a soup), about 20 minutes in total, then remove from the heat.
During the last 10 minutes of cooking, in a frying pan, add the asparagus tips with 50 mls water and 40 grams of butter and heat over medium heat until tender. Add salt to taste.
Meanwhile, dry the scallops thoroughly with a kitchen towel. In a separate large frying pan, heat 40 grams of butter and add the scallops to the pan ensuring that they each have at least 1 cm between them so that they can brown properly.
When brown on one side, about 3 minutes, turn over and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side.
When the risotto is finished, stir through 20 grams of butter, the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the asparagus tips. Divide the risotto between 4 serving bowls and top with 5 scallops each.