Rooster & Owl Chef Yuan Tang reveals recipe for butternut squash risotto with scallops

As Valentine’s Day approaches, WTOP asked local chefs to share their favorite quick and easy recipes that readers can learn and cook from for their friends and significant others.

Rooster & Owl Executive Chef and Owner Yuan Tang demonstrated butternut squash risotto with sea scallops.

“I wanted to show you guys one of the first dishes that I made in a real restaurant,” Tang told WTOP.

What differentiates his risotto from others is the choice of rice he uses: Sushi, rather than Arborio. The final result is a creamy, earthy “warm hug,” as described by the chef.

Rooster & Owl is an award-winning, Michelin-starred restaurant located in D.C.’s 14th Street corridor. The upscale dining experience involves a build your own four-course meal that is shareable.

To see a demonstration of the following recipe, check out the above video, filmed at Rooster & Owl.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Sea Scallops

By Rooster & Owl Executive Chef and Owner Yuan Tang
  • 1 cup onion (small dice)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic (minced), plus 4 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 65 ounces chicken stock
  • 1 cup Parmesan (finely grated)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, plus 3 tablespoons for basting
  • 2 cups butternut squash (small dice)
  • 6 to 8 sea scallops (U-10)
  • 4 springs thyme
  • Optional garnish: chives (thinly sliced), Parmesan cheese and lemon

Instructions for the butternut squash

  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Toss the butternut squash dice with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place on sheet tray (with a liner) until just cooked through and not mushy, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and set aside for the next step.

Instructions for the risotto

  1. Preheat the chicken stock in a large sauce pan to a gentle simmer, and keep warm through the cooking process.
  2. Preheat a 12-inch sauté pan on medium heat with olive oil. Add the onion to the pan and a pinch of salt, and let cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute or two until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the sushi rice, and let toast for about 2 minutes. Stir frequently at this point until the rice turns translucent.
  5. Add the white wine to deglaze, and stir until it has been mostly absorbed.
  6. Begin adding the warm chicken stock, starting with about four ladles full. Stir the rice to distribute the stock. Continue to stir occasionally to ensure the rice is cooked evenly.
  7. Once the stock is mostly absorbed, add another two ladles, and continue the process until the rice is fully cooked, about 20 minutes.
  8. Once the rice is cooked through in the center (each grain should still be intact and not mushy), stir in the Parmesan cheese and butter.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the butternut squash from the previous step and let the risotto rest in the pan until the final plating.

Instructions for the scallops

  1. Rest the scallops flat on a paper towel and in the refrigerator for about 10 to 20 minutes to allow the surface to dry.
  2. Preheat a 12-inch sauté pan with a generous amount of olive oil on high heat until lightly smoking. Meanwhile, season the scallops generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Once the pan is hot enough, add the scallops one at a time, and take care to not overcrowd the pan. Let sear for about 2 minutes until the cook side is golden brown.
  4. Flip the scallops, and add the thyme, garlic and butter. Tilt the pan, and baste the scallops with the melted butter in the pan.
  5. Continue to cook and baste for about 2 minutes until the scallops are medium-rare to medium.
  6. Remove scallops onto a clean paper towel to drain off any excess butter.

Instructions for plating

  1. Place the risotto in a bowl. Add additional Parmesan cheese and optional chives on top of the rice to garnish.
  2. Place three to four scallops on top of each plate. Add optional squeeze of lemon juice over the scallops if desired.
Michelle Goldchain

Michelle Goldchain’s reporting has focused primarily on the D.C. area, previously working as Editor of Curbed DC for Vox Media and Audience Growth & Engagement Editor for Washington City Paper. She is the author of “D.C. by Metro: A History & Guide.” She also reports for 'Artsplained' on YouTube.

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