Risotto Diaries #1 – Seafood

There is nothing that makes me happier than experimenting with different risottos and serving it to people who usually start with a big smile and finish with an even bigger smile. I am about to introduce to you, my risotto recipes and diary. The source of good times on my dining table.This Italian staple can be made with many different flavors which I love to investigate and produce with. Risotto’s smooth creaminess always does the trick and if done right is just simply awesome.

Fun fact about risotto: In 1574 there was a glass craftsman that was creating stained glass for a church that was being built. There was some question as to the materials he was using and he was being teased. As a way to get back at these people for teasing him, he made a rice dish loaded with saffron, intending to make them all sick, instead they all found it very tasty and risotto was born.

Risotto can be made with a variety of different types of rice; Aborio, carnaroli, padano, and vialone nano.

I chose radish & fennel as the salad pairing as it is crispy and light with the lemon olive oil dressing which is a perfect combination with the heavier and creamier risotto.

Enjoy my recipe and salad pairing below!

Risotto Diaries #1 – Claudia’s Frutti di Mare (Seafood) Risotto Delight 

Risotto: Serves 4

  • Good pinch of saffron threads, alternative: saffron powder
  • 50g butter
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 250g short-grained Italian rice
  • 100ml dry white wine or verjus
  • 1 litre fish stock, alternative: chicken stock tastes wonderful too
  • Fresh assorted seafood – mussels, squid, clams, shrimp, alternative: frozen seafood is fine if fresh isn’t available
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper

Salad Pairing: Radish & Fennel Salad

  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • 2 heads/bulbs of fennel
  • 1 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Seafood Risotto

Step 1

Add the Saffron to a small amount of hot stock or water and let steep for 30 minutes.

Step 2

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat half the butter over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent for about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until the rice is well coated for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Step 3

Add the wine to the rice and cook until almost evaporated. At this point, start adding the stock, which is kept simmering in another pan. Add a ladleful at a time, stirring often so the rice doesn’t stick to the pan.

Step 4

Continue adding stock a ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more. If the amount of stock is not quite enough, dilute it with hot water.

Step 5

After about 20 minutes begin to taste the rice. It is ready when it is tender and creamy but still a little firm to the bite.

Step 6

In a separate frying pan, sautee the seafood in a little bit of olive oil, pepper and salt, cayenne pepper for an extra spicy touch. Do not overcook to keep the delicious seafood taste.

Step 7

Towards the end of the cooking time, add the saffron liquid. Having stirred in the Saffron, add the remaining butter and the Parmesean cheese stirring well to combine. Stir in the seafood and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remember to not add too much salt as the parmesan cheese is quite salty as well. Serve immediately.

More butter and cheese can be served separately.

Radish & Fennel Salad

Step 1

Cut and trim the top and bottom of the fennel bulbs, saving the leafy stalk at the top for decoration. Discard the tough outer layer of the fennel (sometimes brownish). Cut the fennel bulbs lengthwise in half and very thinly slice them crosswise. If you have a food processor you can use this too to get a precise and thin cut. Repeat this step with the radishes and add to a bowl of ice water or in the fridge for extra crispiness.

Step 2

In a small bowl, stir in extra-virgin olive oil and the juice of one lemon, salt and pepper.

Step 3

Drain the fennel and radishes (if you used ice water) and pat dry. In a separate bowl, toss the fennel and radishes with the dressing and let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.

TIPS:

a) Risotto is a dish which requires a LOT of LOVE. Do not leave it alone while cooking and remember the ladefuls of stock have to be added as soon as it looks dry or evaporated to create the delicious creaminess. Pay attention at all times, it will be tastier this way.

b) For extra extravagance while plating up, save the bigger pieces of seafood (shrimp or mussels still in the shell) to decorate the rice. I used very small pieces of seafood in the picture above therefore you wont be able to see much but I used the leafy part of the fennel to decorate my risotto this time.

c) Serve with a crisp glass of dry white wine. I prefer Italian whites when it comes to eating risotto.
d) Again, always remember to be very careful with how much salt you use while cooking the risotto as the Parmesan cheese can be VERY salty.
Enjoy!

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