Risotto is usually made with arborio rice, but you can make sushi rice risotto using the same cooking method. There’s nothing like a creamy bowl of properly cooked sushi rice risotto on a chilly night. Yes, it takes patience. And yes, you have to stay with it. No walking away to start laundry while it’s simmering. This Sushi Rice Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash, Feta and Pepitas turned out just as good – if not better – than risotto made with arborio.
Arborio vs. Sushi Rice Risotto
You’ve probably heard of long-grain rice. That’s the rice we typically eat. It includes wild rice, white, brown, jasmine and basmati. Short grain rice is distinctively, well, short. The grains look more plump than typical rice. Both sushi and arborio rice are considered short grain.
If you put sushi rice and arborio side by side, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. That’s why when I started making a roasted butternut squash risotto last night and then realized I was out of arborio, I decided to make the substitution. Voila! Sushi rice risotto!
The thing about risotto is that it is usually a savory one-dimensional dish. While savory is what you want when you eat risotto, I’m always looking for interesting variations that add a little more complexity of flavor or a splash of freshness. This Sushi Rice Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash, Feta and Pepitas was a happy experiment that delivered exactly that.
Making Sushi Rice Risotto At Home
I don’t make risotto at home that often. But after a run of getting poorly executed risotto in restaurants, I was craving the real thing. I was proud of myself for summoning the patience to make this sushi rice risotto dish two nights in a row and getting perfect results both times.
Prep Your Sushi Rice Risotto Ingredients
The two keys to great homemade sushi rice risotto are to have everything set up and staged before turning on the stove and to be patient during the cooking process. Regardless of what risotto recipe you’re using, you’ll need a few things: a medium sauté pan for making the risotto, a small saucepan for the broth or liquid you’ll be adding periodically to the risotto, a ladle and a spatula.
With any risotto, you’re going to be adding liquid to the pan a little at a time. Nine times out of ten you’ll probably use chicken broth for this, so put that in your saucepan and set it over medium heat. The idea is that you want this liquid to be fairly hot so that it doesn’t cool down the sushi rice risotto and stop the cooking process every time you add it.
Breathe It In
For this recipe, and for most risotto recipes, you’ll start by heating up some olive oil in your sauté pan. One of the tips to cooking anything is to let that pan get fairly warm before adding the oil. I recommend using medium heat for sushi rice risotto otherwise the pan will be too hot. Once you add the oil, wait about thirty seconds and then add chopped onion and garlic. You should hear a little sizzle as soon as you add them or the oil isn’t hot enough.
Toss that around with your spatula to get it coated in the oil and until both are fragrant. Lean in to smell! Immediately add your sushi rice and continue moving everything around with the spatula. Tip: DO NOT RINSE THE SUSHI RICE. While you would normally rinse sushi rice, you should skip that step for sushi rice risotto or you won’t get the creamy finish.
My favorite part of making risotto is when it’s wine time. Once your sushi rice is nice a toasty (about a minute total), you’ll be ready to add white wine. I am always generous with my pour.
Lean in and get a good whiff. This is when things start to get exciting! This is also a good time to pour yourself a pre-dinner beverage.
Patience Is a Virtue with Sushi Rice Risotto
Allow the wine to reduce down until there is almost no liquid left. Don’t let it get to the point where the rice is sticking. This only takes about 45 seconds.
Now it’s time to grab your ladle and start adding the chicken broth, about 1/2 a cup at a time.
Shimmy your pan around a little to integrate the broth into the sushi rice risotto. Then leave it alone. It should about two to three minutes for this to absorb into your rice. Use your spatula to scrape the edges and to ensure nothing is sticking. Don’t add more liquid until it’s mostly absorbed, just like the wine.
Keep repeating this process for four to five additions of liquid. You should start noticing that your sushi rice risotto is starting to get creamier. Grab a spoon and do a little test taste to see if the sushi rice risotto is al dente or if it still needs more time. Don’t rush this part. There is nothing worse than sitting down to eat the fruits of your labor to find you have crunchy risotto!
Sushi Rice Risotto – Finishing Touches
Once the sushi rice risotto is al dente to your liking, turn the heat down to low. The final step is to add the rest of your ingredients quickly.
First, I added some diced Fresno chili for heat, lime zest for freshness and a little cream cheese. Use your spatula to break the cream cheese down and incorporate it as quickly as possible. Then add your pre-roasted butternut squash. Toss gently to combine and give it enough time to get hot. As soon as that happens, turn off the heat and finish with the arugula and lime juice. Once you plate it, add your pepitas and a small sprinkle of crumbled feta.
- 2 cups chicken broth or stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup sushi rice UNRINSED
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 tsp lime zest plus half a lime, divided
- 2 tbsp cream cheese
- 1 tbsp Fresno chili, diced
- 1 cup roasted butternut squash (do ahead or use leftovers)
- 1.5 cups arugula
- 1/4 cup sprouted pepitas
- 1/4 cup feta
- salt and pepper
- crusty French or sourdough bread, optional
- Heat the chicken broth or stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Prep all ingredients (if you haven't already roasted your butternut squash, do that before starting this recipe). Heat a medium skillet over medium until hot. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and allow to heat for about 30 seconds.
- Add chopped onion and minced garlic to the oil. Using a spatula, toss it around lightly until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add unrinsed sushi rice and continue to toss lightly to coat in the oil for about 1 minute.
- Carefully add the wine..breathe in that delicious aroma as it reduces down to just a few tablespoons of liquid in the pan.
- Using a ladle, carefully add two scoops of chicken broth to the skillet. Make sure your broth is steaming before adding it. Shimmy the skillet lightly and allow the broth to simmer and absorb.
- Once the liquid is almost completely absorbed, add 2 more ladles of broth. Repeat the above instructions. Continue this process for about 15 minutes. Once your sushi rice starts to look creamy, begin tasting for doneness. You're going for al dente with no toughness to the bite.
- As soon as you reach a nice al dente, reduce the skillet heat to low and turn off the heat under the broth. Immediately add the cream cheese, lime zest, Fresno chilis and butternut squash. Gently stir to combine and unsure the squash reheats enough. Once the squash is combined and hot, turn off the skillet heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss the risotto with the arugula and the juice from the remaining lime. Divide between two plates and top each with half of the pepitas and feta. Serve with crusty bread if desired.