Seafood risotto (Risotto alla pescatora)
What a delicious thing! If you love seafood, this dish will send you up to the moon. In this recipe I will show how to make this wonderful risotto without getting too messy; cleaning and preparing the fish. When you make it, be sure you use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. It is also important that you master the risotto basics, before attempting this recipe, so have a look at the basic "parmigiana risotto" recipe featured in the risotto section of the website. Note: nowadays you can buy a frozen seafood selection in most of the supermarkets (I always keep some in my freezer); this is usually a selection of shelled mussels, peeled prawns, squid rings and cockle/clam meat which are all pre cooked and then frozen.
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- 400 grams (12-14 oz) Carnaroli rice (alternatively Arborio rice)
- 500 grams (1.1 lb) Seafood selection (frozen)
- 75 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Cloves of garlic
- 1 Chilli (mild)
- 30 ml (2 tbs) Tomato purèe
- 1 Shallot (finely chopped) – alternatively you can use ½ onion
- 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) White wine
- 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) of hot fish stock – 2 stock cubes – (I have to say that you often need more than 1 litre so have some extra stock handy)
- 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) Cracked black pepper
- Salt for seasoning
- A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
- Defrost the frozen fish (do not use the microwave as it partially cooks the fish). Once defrosted, pat the fish dry with kitchen paper.
- The photograph shows about 500 g (1 pound 2 ounces) of clean and dry seafood; this is what I will use for this recipe, which is intended to serve 4 persons. However, there is not a fixed rule about the seafood quantity, you can also use 600 g (1 pound 6 ounces), if you like, but I would not go further.
- First and foremost, before you start cooking, be sure that the first thing you do is to prepare the stock so that it is readily available when required. The best thing to do is to have the stock just simmering, and no more, on the cooker.
- Put the olive oil in a large pan. Heat the oil and then add the garlic and the chilli (break the chilli bean in two pieces). Sweat them over a gentle heat until the garlic becomes golden in colour.
- When the garlic becomes golden, quickly remove it from the pan and discard it.
- Immediately after the garlic is discarded, remove the chilli and discard it.
- Now, turn the heat to medium and add the seafood into the pan.
- Stir well and cook for no more than 2-3 minutes (remember that the frozen seafood selection is aready pre cooked, so an excessive exposure the the heat would inevitably overcook the seafood); this is to flavour the oil and for preparing the seafood for the last stage.
- After 2-3 minutes, quickly remove the seafood (a slotted spoon is ideal for this operation) and put it into a bowl.
- Set the seafood aside for a later stage (I suggest covering the bowl with foil).
- Coming back to the pan, you can see that now we have a lovely flavoured oil wich we will use to start our risotto.
- Add the finely chopped shallot and sweat over a medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until the shallot is soft.
- Add the rice.
- Stir until the rice is completely coated with the oil. You can see that the rice will start to become translucent. Keep stirring and sweat the rice for a minute or two.
- Then, add the white wine, keep stirring and let the wine evaporate (it will probably take a couple of minutes).
- Now, add the stock and turn the heat to medium/low. The stock, which has been kept simmering in order to stay hot, should be added at the rate of a couple of ladlefuls at a time and when this is absorbed, add more stock. Carry on in this way for about 15 minutes. During this stage, do not leave the pan alone and stir regularly (gently).
- Now, immediately after the first couple of ladlefuls of stock, add the tomato purèe.
- This is the colour you should get after the tomato purèe is evenly distributed.
- Meanwhile you keep going, adding stock as required and stirring (gently). The photograph shows the rice after about 10 cooking. At this stage, check the seasoning and add the salt accordingly.
- Also, add the black pepper.
- After 15 minutes you will probably need an extra 3 to 5 minutes to complete the final stage of cooking (this time depends on the type of rice you are using). This also means that you have only 3 to 5 minutes left to complete the cooking of the seafood.
- So, add the seafood into the pan. The seafood is colder than the pan contents so increase the heat (high heat) for few seconds and then return the heat back to what it was before.
- From now on, taste the rice every minute until the rice is cooked "al dente" (this means that the rice is tender outside, but still slightly firm to the bite in the centre). At the same time, the tasting will tell you if you need to adjust seasoning with salt. Regular but gentle stirring is required for the last minutes in order to avoid the risotto sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- In these last minutes, if the stock is completely absorbed, you can gradually add a bit more (say half ladle at a time) because at this final stage you do not want the risotto becoming too watery.
- When the rice is perfectly cooked "al dente", add the parsley and stir for few seconds.
- The risotto is ready to be served.
- Risotto should be served "all'onda" (like a wave). This means that when you serve it onto the plate, it should still flow a little.With this dish, I would suggest having ome black pepper on the table in case your guests wish to have an extra "kick"!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!