Seafood is a huge hit in our household, with one exception, and it’s not really her fault. See, we eat pretty much every type of fish under the sun, and crab and prawns (and sometimes lobster on a lucky day) are continuous guests at the dinner table, but there are certain types of seafood missing…namely, shellfish; scallops, mussels, clams, squid, the lot. My mother, you see, is allergic to certain proteins within shellfish, and is thus incredibly ill whenever she eats them. It’s a pity, because she’s a fan, whilst my father and I are super fans of shellfish, but for the most part, it is avoided in our household.
However, on a trip to the coast yesterday, I found, of all things, little sachets of squid ink for sale…for 50p! Like in little portion sizes. As if I could resist! So I paid 50p and hopped off with my new bargain in hand, and came to the puzzling point of how I was going to use it. Mum having any was out of the question, and my seafood-partner-in-crime (newly invented by yours truly), my father, is away for about two weeks now, with only one quick stop this Thursday back home before setting off again.
But! I did have a pot of fresh mixed seafood that I had planned to have for lunch one of these days, seeing as fish/seafood was allowed for said course during this vegetarian week.
So, I upped the ante and decided that I could deal with having some leftovers, and made risotto nero di seppia (and a portion of plain ole’ cheese risotto for mum on the side!)
Risotto is a bit like having a pet. You have to feed it, nurture it, and help it to keep growing. Unlike a pet, the end result of a risotto is delicious. It’s a little bit of work, but I think it’s worth it in the end.
200g of arborio risotto rice
50g of butter
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tsp of chilli flakes
150ml of white wine
1.5-2 litres of vegetable stock
one sachet of squid ink (optional!)
2 tbsp of chopped chives (optional)
2 tbsp of grated parmesan (optional)
mixed seafood (already cooked, as bought in store, or flash fry in a pan until prawns are pink and cooked through, and the rest is warm (but no rubbery squid!))
sprigs of rosemary
Keep the stock hot in a separate saucepan on the hob on low heat.
Melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan. Add the onions, and let them become soft but not quite browning yet. Add the garlic, and continue to cook until fragrant, and finally add the chilli flakes.
Add the rice, and stir thoroughly until all grains are coated from the onion and butter. Add the white wine and cook until the liquid evaporates.
If using, add the small sachet of squid ink (about a teaspoon), and stir thoroughly. Otherwise, you’ll still end up with a good and classic risotto.
Pour in a ladle of hot stock, and keep stirring the rice until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Repeat this step again and again, only adding the next ladle of stock when the liquid has disappeared into the rice. Stir as often as possible, continuing the process until the rice is tender but still retaining a slight bite. This should take about 20-30 minutes.
Once your risotto is cooked to your liking, add the chopped chives and seafood. Stir in the parmesan, until melted into the risotto. Remove from heat.
Plate up, garnish with a few sprigs of rosemary, and serve immediately.