17th September 2013

Risotto with lemon, ginger and yoghurt

By MaitreMarcel

Recently I went to a restaurant in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, le Bistrot de Laurent. Overall, the food and dishes were decent but I was disappointed about the risotto that was served with my tuna steak.
It was supposed to have asparagus, very late in the season, but I could hardly taste that. There was a lot of chives and much olive oil.
I decided to ‘invent’ a better risotto to go with fish.

I have been making risotto’s for decades, based on an often-used and greasy copy of Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook. First you cook the rice in stock and then there is the phase of ‘mantecare’ when the cooked rice is made fluffy and creamy by adding butter and grated Parmesan cheese.
That makes a wonderful risotto, but it is rather fat and heavy. Reserve it for a hearty meal in winter after a long walk through the woods, with a sausage or roast, and add some ceps if you have them.

But when you make a risotto to go with fish in the summer, you want something light. Therefore, I decided to use yoghurt in the mantecare stage.
Because I was accompanying tuna, I borrowed from Asian cuisine and used garlic and some grated ginger. A zany, fruity and pleasant taste was obtained by the lemon juice and zest.

Of course, I added some saffron.

I had bough the saffron the day after the restaurant meal on a market for producers from southwest France, held near the Notre Dame cathedral. Valérie Galy cultivates saffron at Cadeilhan, south of Agen and Montauban. Her website is www.oct8bre.com (her first saffron harvest was on 8 October 2006).
To use saffron in a recipe, you have to give it time to infuse some warm water. Prepare it some 20 minutes before cooking and to not just drop it in the pan as you will not get the colouring effect.


  • 300 grammes of Arborio rice
  • 1.5 litres of stock (I used an Ariake sachet of poultry and a sachet of vegetable stock, you do not use up all the stock but it is good to have plenty available))
  • One shallot
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • One lemon
  • Pepper
  • A glass of white wine
  • One cm of ginger root
  • 125 grammes of yoghurt
  • Three saffron threads.
  • 20 grammes of butter
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil


  1. Put the saffron in some hot water and infuse for half an hour.
  2. Prepare the stock.
  3. Finely chop the shallot and the garlic.
  4. Wash the lemon and take off zest from the rind with a zester. Press for juice.
  5. Grate the fresh ginger.
  6. Put the butter and oil in a large pan with a heavy bottom, put on the heat.
  7. When the butter foam subsides, add the shallot and garlic, stir with a wooden or plastic spoon (metal may damage the pan) until colouring starts and add the rice. Stir again for a minute or two to avoid the rice from sticking to the pan and add the wine, continue stirring.
  8. With a soup ladle, add stock to the rice one spoonful at a time and stir until the liquid has almost entirely evaporated, before adding another spoonful.
  9. After 10 minutes, add the saffron and lemon juice. Continue stirring until the rice is done (depending on the rice between 13 and 20 minutes).
  10. The rice needs to remain slightly liquid. Add the grated ginger and lemon zest, stir again off heat, add the yoghurt and continue stirring until you have a creamy rice mixture.
  11. Add pepper and present.
  12. You could add chopped cilantro.