Monks beard is one of my favourite culinary discoveries about moving to the UK. Known in England this country as ‘goat’s beard’ or ‘Johnny go to bed at noon’, these little green shoots are grown in Tuscany, where they’re only in season for only five weeks of the year (so get them while you can!). It is similar in appearance to samphire, it’s best prepared by light steaming and served with lemon or olive oil, so naturally goes perfectly with seafood.
Crab & Monks Beard Risotto
- 250g crab meat (picked or use the meat of one large crab)
350g aborio rice
juice of 2 lemons (and more for serving)
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
250ml white wine
1.5L fish stock (or dashi), warm
1 bunch of monks beard
handful of shiso leaves, to garnish
In a large pan, sweat the onion in a dash of oil until soft and translucent. Add the rice and fry for 2 minutes. Add 1/3 of the white wine and stir until completely absorbed, then repeat with the remaining wine. Reduce the heat to medium and begin adding the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously. Allow each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, until al dente – it should take about 15- 20 minutes.
For the monks beard, wash thoroughly, then bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Blanch monks beard for 3 minutes, so the crunch remains. Drain, and season with salt and lemon juice, then roughly chop and set aside.
Remove risotto from the heat, stir through crab meat, monks beard, lemon rind and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and top with shiso leaves.
This dish is perfect for a spring time lunch or early evening dinner… best served with a glass of champagne.