Fennel, Lime & Tatsoi Risotto with Backstrap of Lamb

Fennel, Lime & Tatsoi Risotto with Rare Spiced Lamb

I think learning to make my first risotto was one of the steps that launched me into the world of real cooking. I’d seen so many TV chefs making fancy looking dishes and thought they sounded so involved and elaborate as to be out of reach to the common home cook. So when I first decided to throw caution to the wind and have a go myself, It was with great delight and virtual high fives that I managed to make something actually come out the way it looked in the books.

These days though, I’m almost reaching risotto overkill. It’s still my goto dish when I can’t think of anything else to cook, but it doesn’t hold the same interest as it used to, to the point where it’s almost getting a little passe. I whip out my usual set of ingredients, follow the standard mantra of onions, garlic, leek, butter, rice, wine, and stock, and away we go. Add a bit of this, a bit of that… more stock, and it’s all done.

So I won’t bore you with the details of how I made this dish, other than to say check out any of my other risotto recipes for a more indepth explanation of the process. I think the name says it all really…

Fennel, Lime & Tatsoi Risotto with Rare Spiced Backstrap of Lamb

Points of interest are that I used backstrap of lamb, which is one of the tenderest, juiciest, most deliciousousest (I just wrote that you make you all sound like freaks while you’re reading this) cuts of lamb you will find. It’s not cheap mind… It comes in long thin pieces and was $35/kg from Mondo’s in Inglewood… I have yet to find a cheap Chinese butcher equivalent because apparently they aren’t so keen on lamb.

I basically seasoned the lamb strips with my normal quasi-middle eastern spice profile of olive oil, cumin, fennel, coriander seeds, and lots of salt and pepper. Then seared it quickly in a hot pan with a little butter on both sides… Not for too long as it’s quite a lean piece of meat, and should be served towards rare (in my carnivorous opinion).

Other notes were the lime and fennel in the risotto. I added quite a bit of lime zest and then the juice of a whole lime to lighten the risotto up. I didn’t want it to be too heavy as the lamb would be there for that. The fennel was added later on so it didn’t break down entirely, just got quite soft, and then some Tatsoi was stirred through right at the last minute. You might be familiar with Tatsoi as a salad ingredient. It’s a leafy asian green related to bok choy somehow (I think she married his uncles second cousin)… and it has a real peppery kick to it. Something a bit different anyway.

It all turned out so nicely that I made it twice in the same week :) When food tastes this nice, you can call me passe anyday…

7 thoughts on “Fennel, Lime & Tatsoi Risotto with Backstrap of Lamb”

  1. Mm, looks delicious. I haven’t yet gotten into cooking lamb much, but I’ll get there. Backstrap, hm? I wonder if that’s called something else here. And risotto, actually, the first time I made risotto (February) I paired it with lamb. I made risotto again a few weeks ago and I was amazed at how easy it is. I imagine with repetition it will just get easier. :)

  2. Hey Yvo, Yep… It’s my theory that if you do anything enough times it’s bound to come good eventually. Unless of course you make it wrong 15 times in a row… in which case that’d be kinda sad… please don’t make me sad.

    Brilynn, it was indeed a tasty treat to tickle the tastebuds, and I may just have to cement that word in history with a creative Urban Dictionary entry… feel free to start working it into conversations :)

  3. Hi Matt.
    As a fellow kiwi, I’m proud to see one of my countrymen cooking lamb the way it should be. Rare. This recipe looks amazing. I got such vicarious pleasure looking at the photo. :)
    At the Slow Food WA long table lunch at New Norcia, last Sunday, we had lamb cooked in the famous wood fired ovens by Kingsley Sullivan (Mr New Norcia). It was a variety I hadn’t tried before called Dorper lamb. Every part of the beast was melt in the mouth and flavourful. As Homer (the cartoon character, not the writer) would say, mmmmm lamb…..

  4. Hi Alex,

    Sorry I keep missing you at Mondo… been down the last couple of weeks (albeit very late)… perhaps next week time permitting.

    I heard about the slow table lunch via Spice Magazine, it sounded great… The wood oven lamb had me salivating…as did the idea of sitting around all day doing nothing but eating, drinking, and being merry. So I might have to do some enquiring as to joining up :)


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