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Monday, October 22, 2012

Black Risotto with Calamari

I figured it was high time to post a dish that wasn't Chinese or Indian, just to prove to myself that Asian food was not my only forte. The inspiration for this dish came from a lunch that I had at the Pumphouse gastropub in the city fringe area of Brunswick. I was game enough to try a black risotto with prawn and bugs - the seafood kind not creepy crawlies! This was whilst my lunch companions relied upon their faithful pub grub orders of fish n chips, steak sangers etc. etc. Well, my boldness paid off, as what resulted was the kitchen turning out a delicious dish that was perfectly seasoned and generously dotted with well-cooked fresh seafood. It was also the first time I had tasted black squid ink in a dish, and despite my previous misconceptions of morbidity, the black risotto, as opposed to the usual off-white renditions, received my highest approval. I enjoyed every bit of it, much to the somewhat horror of the non-conformist fish n chip eating aficionados at the table.
Most good continental delicatessens usually sell squid ink and I came across a pack some time back at Casa Iberica. I have been meaning to cook Black Risotto for some time now.
Any risotto of mine needs is own special home-made stock. Sure, a carton of the ready-made kind would do, but for me that just doesn't cut it. I had to make my own fish stock. (Check the Basics page for the recipe)
So while the fish frames simmered into stocky glory it was time to pour a glass of white and get the rest of the ingredients prepared.  Feel free to follow the exact method of prep - wine goes hand in hand with black risotto in my book - but I am no food critic.
2 tbsp x Olive Oil
1 x Onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves x Garlic, finely sliced, extra clove for the Calamari
2 stalks x Celery, finely diced
1 cup x White wine
1 Litre x Fish Stock, kept at a rolling boil on the stovetop
2 cups x Arborio rice
500g x Baby Calamari, cleaned, tentacles diced, hoods sliced into rings
2 sachets x Squid Ink
1 tbsp x Butter
Parsley, roughly chopped
1 x Red Chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
Parmesan cheese, shaved
Heat the oil in a heavy pan then add the onions, garlic and celery
Saute for 2-3 minutes until the onions soften slightly, do not allow to burn
Bring the heat up to high, pour in the wine and reduce to a third
Add the chopped tentacles and half the sliced rings of calamari 
Follow with the arborio rice folding through the mixture to coat the grains
Pour in a ladle of stock and stir through the rice
Press out the squid ink from the sachets and combine well with the rice mixture
When the rice has absorbed the initial stock add another ladle and stir to combine
Repeat until almost all of the stock is used up then stir in the butter to give it a nice glossy sheen
Move the risotto to a serving dish and prepare the garnish
Heat a small frypan with a little olive oil add the extra clove of chopped garlic and fry for 30 seconds
Now add a small splash of white wine and reduce for a minute
Add the remaining baby calamari rings and fry until translucent and tender
Tip the rings neatly onto the waiting risotto and garnish finally with chopped parsley and chilli
Serve with shavings of Parmesan cheese and more white wine

Tips: A good risotto takes up about 20 minutes of absorption time
The rice grains should be almost completely soft but not entirely
After dispensing the final ladle of stock allow the risotto to stand for a couple of minutes
The mixture should be thick and clump well onto a wooden spoon

"I kept this recipe relatively simple with the calamari but for some added indulgence I highly recommend adding fresh prawns, scallops and/or baby bugs (if you can source them). These are not too overpowering in the fishy department and add a wonderful texture contrast to the dish"    


betty manousos said...

wow, this looks so delicious. i need to have to try this out as i have never tried it so far.

thanks for sharing this amazing recipe.

dropping by via 3 hungry tummies to say hi.

ngizee said...

Hi Betty, thanks for your comment. This really is a delicious dish. Its got that whole fanciness about it with the black squid ink and tastes so different to other white seafood based risottos. I do hope you try it and let me know how it turns out.