Porcini Risotto and Scallops : Oregano

porcini risotto

Cooking risottos can be a bit of work, and I personally like to stick to the “traditional” slow stirring of the pot, rather than adding all the liquid at once and letting it cook. I believe the starches do release better with the constant mechanical action of the wooden spoon. I have never run a comparison test between the two, which would be interesting. Making one risotto dish is already plenty of work for a regular week night dinner.  Perhaps not the most original risotto recipe either, but it is definitely one of my favorite ones. Porcini Risotto. I used dried porcini mushrooms this time.  They are readily available, although not the cheapest mushrooms out there, and definitely not the mushrooms I use more frequently either, spending a little extra on this one though is so worth it! 

porcini risotto


Now the addition of scallops is interesting in itself. Mushrooms and seafood do work together, and there are many examples of this, although they are more commonly paired with meats. What’s a little more odd is the pairing of parmesan cheese and seafood, at least in my experience. When using delicate white fish for example, I can see how the strong cheese flavor would mask or hide that of the other. With nicely caramelized scallops, a shellfish, the story changes a bit. The scallop flavor is so intensified by the caramelization that it adds a component of character to the dish rather than getting lost in the mix.  Umami and buttery caramelized sweetness. Try it if you haven’t. I thought it worked really well.  Anyways, Porcini Risotto, here we go! 

Ingredients (makes 3-4 servings):

6 Scallops (I used jumbo, but there are tastier ones out there)
1 Cup of Arborio rice
1 cup of dry porcini mushrooms
1/2 white onion small dice
3-4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
2-3 Cups of chicken, vegetable or mushroom stock (combining to taste is fun)
1/4 Cup dry white wine, like pinot griggio or a dry chardonnay
1/2 Cup grated parmesan cheese
1 bay leaf (fresh if possible)
10 oregano leaves
1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Splash of Fish Sauce (yeah, I went there)
Olive oil for sautéing
Salt and Pepper to taste

porcini risotto

The risotto. Sweat the onions in a dutch oven or cast iron deep skillet over medium heat in a little olive oil (you can use a wide saucepan, or a stock pot.. each vessel will require to be used slightly differently). Add the rice to the pot and very lightly toast the rice, don’t allow to brown, just ever so slightly. Add the wine at this point. The rice will absorb it quickly. Add the garlic. Add some salt. Cook and stir for a less than a minute making sure it doesn’t brown. Add a cup of stock and stir. Bring to a simmer. stir some more. And so it begins, the stirring of risotto. Add the oregano leaves. Add more stock, stir some more… the whole process will take about 30 minutes, sometimes as long as an hour, depends on the rice really. If you run out of stock, use water. Too much stock and your risotto will taste like stock. Taste for doneness. When the rice is feeling only slightly undercooked, it is time to add the mushrooms. For the mushrooms. Add the dry mushrooms to a small saucepan, with a little water. Bring to a boil covered. Remove from the heat. Let sit for a few minutes, you can do this ahead of time. I sometimes do it in the microwave using a microwave safe container. Add mushrooms and mushroom liquid to the risotto. The mushroom liquid should only be a little, a few Tbsp of it at the most. Flavor concentration is what we’re looking for.  Add the butter. Melt, keep stirring. If you’ve been adding salt through the process, make sure to under salt a little. We will be adding parmesan cheese and optionally some fish sauce… so make sure the end result isn’t salty, just well seasoned.  The cheese will melt. Reduce any excess liquid until you end up with a creamy risotto. Remove from the heat and get ready for scallop action. You could add a splash of lemon juice at the very end. Just saying…

The scallops. Heat some vegetable oil on a stainless steel skillet. High heat. We’re gonna sear one side really nicely. Salt and pepper the scallops a few minutes before searing.  Dry the scallops with a paper towel. When the oil in the skillet ripples a bit and about to start smoking, add the scallops carefully. Allow to sear for about 1 minute, minute and a half. Do not touch before that. The scallops get stuck to the skillet at first, if you try to move them, you might damage them… game over. After a minute, the scallops are naturally released and you can even check if they’re browning nicely. Remove from the heat. Flip the scallops and cover the skillet with a lit for about 2 minutes. They will be cooked in their own steam. Reserve the scallops. Deglaze the skillet with a splash of wine, scrape the bottom and reduce a little bit. Add this liquid to the risotto and stir well. Nothing should go to waste.

The Plating. Self explanatory. It is a very straight forward dish to put together. A drizzle of olive oil around the perimeter of the risotto serving and a little fresh oregano leaf completes the dish. Enjoy.


porcini risotto

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  1. I love a good risotto. I have never tried the combination of scallops and mushrooms, but it sounds, and looks, delicious. Is it me, or is the quantity of mushrooms you used missing in the ingredients list? I was just going to say that it is true that dried mushrooms are expensive, but then you never need to use tons to get great flavor! And the oregano leaves? I love that! Fresh oregano is almost impossible to find here (unless you grow it yourself).

    1. I missed that! main ingredient… left out… let me correct that right away and thanks for point it out! Yeah, it is hard to find fresh oregano, here in Vancouver is pretty common, but when I lived in LA it wasn’t the case. Thank you for you thoughtful comment!

  2. Looks great, love that caramelisation on those scallops! I ate a delicious salty sweet parmesan and prawn risotto in France, you just reminded me. I’ve got very in to cooking risottos over the past year, I tend to make one a week. Will be doing one tonight infact, but something a bit different to what I normally make… No seafood though. Do you like garlic? Watch this space… 😉

  3. This would be called ‘mare e monti’ in Italy, or surf & turf. It is more common with shrimp, but scallops are a nice idea. I love scallops! I would definitely add all of the porcini soaking liquid to the risotto. Glad to note you are making risotto the ‘proper’ way. Bonus points for adding the scallop pan juices to the risotto!

    1. ah, thanks Stefan! yeah, that’s correct, mare e monti 🙂 Another thing I tried that I didn’t comment on was to make little tin foil jackets to keep the scallops’ shape a bit perkier. So glad you liked the post! Yeah, a lot of me using everything and reducing waste I learned from reading your blog 🙂

  4. Wow this is totally my kind of dish. I literally could eat this every day. Beautiful plating too. I do think dried mushrooms have more concentrated flavor and are sometimes more advantageous in a dish. What a lovely post!

    1. thank you so much! Amanda 🙂 Yeah, dried mushrooms pack a lot of flavor and a fraction of the volume, so one can use more. Lot’s of cooks prefer them over fresh ones. I think both can deliver lots of flavor 🙂 I’m so glad you liked the dish!

  5. This is dish I would order on a good restaurant and if this had been what they served me I would a very happy guest. Fantastic images again – those scallops are just perfect in color. Excellent job.

  6. Am in late to say I think this is a fantastic recipe you have plated in a most appetizing way – I also like to stand there to stir my risotto: it is SO soothing! I add my garlic a tad earlier . . . we all have our own methodology! Time wise I do not have much choice as arborio is usually the only risotto rice I can get, but I am always ‘done’ at 19-20 minutes . . . perhaps the rice is fresher on the shelves??

    1. Hi Eha! I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe and the post. Thank you for your nice comment as well! Regarding the garlic, I think as long as it doesn’t brown, it’s ok, and if a little color is desired, earlier is better, I sometimes make garlic confit and use that instead of raw garlic, but when I’m after a garlicky finish, I delay adding it to the pot a lot longer, it really depends one what I’m looking for flavor wise. And the rice taking longer to cook, I’m not sure, I’m sure freshness has an impact. Different rice fields produce different results, even the way the rice is processed will impact the time it takes to cook it. Par cooking rice is a way around long cooking times, even pre-soaking overnight in the stock 🙂

  7. Hi Paul! I always get so excited when I see one of your posts in my reader! Your scallops are mouthwatering! As is your risotto! I know you moved recently, but why was it not next door to me?!? I want so many of my blogging buddies as neighbors! 🙂

    1. Patty! hahah, you’re always so nice, thank you!!! I share your thoughts about a little blogging buddy neighborhood, can you imagine? restaurants in the area wouldn’t be too happy hahah 🙂 Have a great friday!

  8. This looks great! I’ve never made a risotto myself, but it certainly looks doable. What quantity of fresh mushrooms would you suggest, if I were to use those ?

    1. Hi Lili, thank you! glad you enjoyed the post. If you have access to fresh mushrooms, you will probably need to probably double the amount. Reconstituted mushrooms are still about a third or so of the size of a fresh mushroom. Err on the “more” side 🙂 And since they’re fresh, you can get some browning on them on a hot skillet and develop a more complex flavor than the dehydrated ones!

  9. I love risotto of any kind! But when it has porcini and parmesan that’s fabulous! Those pan seared scallops look absolutely divine!

  10. Great recipe and meal, Paul. I never “got” the dump all the liquid in the pot risotto. You have to work the rice to release the starch. Just look at that photo of yours. It’s perfect. Those scallops, too, couldn’t be better seared. Together, they make a great dish, beautifully presented.

    1. thank you John! When making paella for example, you dump all the liquid at once and then slow cook it until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. It’s a little trickier I guess 🙂

  11. I also do the traditional slow cooking, adding small amounts of liquid and stir stir stir. A good Italian friend taught me how to do it, so I figured I shall always do it her way 😉 Porcini Risotto is one of my utmost favourites and this seems lovely with the scallops! I think I might make some for tonight..

  12. Lovely, earthy dish. Great for our Autumn weather.

    I’ve only made risotto a handful of times, but always the slow stirring and incremental adding of stock. It’s part of the ritual and what makes risotto taste like it’s been made with love. It also cooks evenly if you stir. If you don’t have time to stir, make a sandwich!

  13. Hi, Paul. I love all of the detail you go into about how to prepare a creamy risotto and the perfect scallops. The bit about switching to water from stock is particularly helpful! I am a risotto novice and find the preparation a little intimidating, so all of the information is helpful. The seared, butter scallops, umami flavor of the porcini mushrooms, earthy, bright hit from oregano and crisp, white wine sounds so enticing. I can’t wait to this satisfying, comforting, yet elegant dish! Thanks for sharing.

    1. you’re always so nice Shanna! thank you so much for your great comments! There should be nothing intimidating about making risotto, it is simple but requires patience, and like anything else, practice makes perfect. And try using other rice grains, arborio is the standard, but I’ve used sushi rice which makes a great risotto, and paella rice as well. I hear jasmine makes an amazing risotto. I’m obviously not a traditionalist, I like to experiment and try different things 🙂 As long as it is all delicious in the end.

  14. I just discovered your blog and am so impressed. The photography is gorgeous and the recipes look delicious! I can’t wait to read more of your posts 🙂

  15. Very excited to try this recipe for a dinner party this weekend. I am entertaining for 6 people, do you recommend doubling what the measurements call for?

    1. hi tara! sorry it took me a while to get back to you. Ive been camping and away from internet access 🙂 absolutely, doubling the ingredients will get you there and the leftover can be frozen or eaten in the next day or two. Making arancini is a nice way to use leftover risotto. I post it recently about making these 🙂 let me know if you have more questions! hope your dinner party is a success!

  16. And can I make the risotto ahead of time and re-heat ? IF so, what would your recommendation be on how to reheat? Thanks

    1. risotto just like pasta can be par-cooked. You can start the risotto the day before… say total time to making the risotto is about and hour. You can par cook for about 40 mins the day before and finish cooking the day of the event.

  17. Happy to discover your blog! Love it! Will definitely try the funghi porcini with the scallops! A MUST DO! Thank you 🙂

  18. Pingback: Valentine's Dinner Recap: Scallops with Porcini Risotto - The Liberty List

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