Vialone nano, a plump, medium-grained, starchy Italian rice, graded semi-fino, particularly used for risotto due to its capacity to absorb twice its weight in liquid without bursting. It is classified as semi-fino not because of its quality or cooking characteristics, but because of its length to width ratio. It is shorter and fatter than Carnaroli and is as highly prized in the Veneto as Carnaroli is in Piemonte.
Vialone nano – also known as Dwarf Vialone – came to life around the 1930s in Verona and Mantova. It absorbs condiments well and although it increases in volume during cooking time it still keeps a firm texture and remains compact and soft. It is indicated for recipes which count on presentation like salads, risottos and rice accompaniment to fish dishes. In 2006, the Vialone nano rice obtained the IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) certification.
Vialone Nano has only slightly less amylase than Carnaroli (23.9% for Vialone and 24.1% for Carnaroli) and it measures even lower on the stickiness scale. These factors give it a great capacity for absorption and expansion on cooking and yield a creamier risotto that flows. Vialone Nano rice is the first choice for risotto by chefs in the Veneto because it is loose enough to produce a allonda (wavy) texture. When a cook showily tosses the finished risotto in the saucepan with a flip of the wrist, it rises up and breaks like a wave. It also suits many of the seafood risottos that are traditional in the region. Many believe that it absorbs more of the flavours of the broth, and that while it can yield a creamier risotto it is slightly less forgiving in the cooking than Carnaroli. (Cooking time is normally 14 to 15 minutes for al dente.)
To preserve the high starch content of this and other Italian rices, its important not to rinse the rice. Starch contributes to the creamy consistency of the rice as well as the flavour.
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