Spring pearl barley risotto with cured egg yolk
Light, fresh but filling pearl barley takes over from Arborio rice to bring a British spin on a classic Italian risotto. Add a Japanese inspired rich and slightly salty, easy to cure egg yolk and light spring veggies and you have a new favourite supper perfect for warmer months. Be prepared to fall in love with cured yolks after tasting this!
To start, cure the egg yolks. Mix the soya sauce and mirin in a bowl, then add the egg yolks. Spoon the sauce over the yolks, to cover, then place in the fridge until required (it’s fine to be consumed with 15 minutes of curing depending on how runny you like your yolk). This can also be done up to two days in advance, but the yolk will get more firm as the salt cure sets it.
To make the risotto, start by prepping the vegetables. Place the broad beans into a small pan, cover with boiling water and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain the broad beans into a sieve and tip into a small bowl of cold water. Pop the beans from their skins and place in a bowl to one side. Click the woody ends from the asparagus and slice them. Leave the small tips to one side.
Place a large wide pan on a medium heat. Add half the butter and oil, allowing the butter to melt and bubble a little. Add the sliced asparagus, onion and chopped herb stalks. Reduce the heat to low and lightly sauté the vegetables for 5 minutes.
Stir in the pearl barley until coated in vegetables. Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium, allowing the wine to evaporate. Pour in the hot stock, bring to the boil, and stir occasionally for around 25 minutes or until the pearl barley is nearly cooked. Around 5 minutes towards the end of cooking, add the fresh peas, broad beans and asparagus tips and stir through.
When the pearl barley is almost cooked, add the remaining butter, half the chopped herb leaves, crème fraiche (if using) then season with salt and pepper. Stir and place on the lid.
Just before serving scatter over the remaining herb leaves, add lemon zest and juice. Spoon into dishes. Carefully crown each dish with an egg yolk and pea shoots – and enjoy!
For the cured egg yolks
3 tablespoons soya sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
2 large Clarence Court hen egg yolks
For the risotto
50g broad beans, frozen
230g fresh asparagus
40g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
30g chopped fresh herbs (we use chervil, tarragon and mint), leaves picked and chopped, stems finely chopped
150g pearl barley
150ml white wine
700ml hot vegetable stock
60g fresh, podded peas
2 tablespoons crème fraiche (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Pea shoots, to serve (optional)