This risotto recipe belongs to the family of the seafood risottos and it is an interesting one because it shows how to make a fantastic dish with very few ingredients. People usually think that to make a good seafood risotto you need to have lots of different fish varieties; this is not true!
Technically speaking you can make a wonderful seafood risotto using only good fish stock. Italian fishermen of the past (early 20th century) always used to sell the good fish to the restaurants (or to the wealthy families) and kept the leftovers for themselves. When I say leftovers, it could be a couple of monkfish heads, some tiny flat fish that would never find a place on the fish counter or some little bony fish caught in the net. Well, the rule of thumb was never waste anything and with all these leftovers fishermen (or poor families) were used to making a fantastic stock, which thereafter was used to flavour the risotto. Here, I am presenting a recipe from the North East of Italy, which was quite common amongst people living on the North Adriatic sea coast (around Venice and Romagna region). Speaking about North East means also that the rice variety changes and instead of using the usual all rounders “Carnaroli” and “Aborio” rice varieties, this time we use the “Vialone nano” variety, which is perfect for this dish because this rice variety absorb more stock than the Carnaroli (or Arborio), hence, if the fish stock is good, the rice will be packed with flavour. I have decided to add some crab meat at the end, just to give you an idea about how to combine flavours, but believe me when I say it is not necessary; all you need here is a very good fish stock!
- 350-400 g (12-14 oz) Vialone nano rice
- 170 g (6 oz) Shredded crab meat
- 75 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Clove of garlic
- 1 Small onion (finely chopped)
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) White wine
- 100 ml (4 fl oz) Tomato passata
- 1 Litre (1¾ 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 (finely chopped)
- First and foremost, before you start cooking, be sure that the first thing you do is 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.
- Next, crab meat is usually preserved in brine. Put the crab meat into a small sieve and press the meat down with a spoon so that the brine goes through the sieve. Discard the brine and set the crab meat aside.
- Put the olive oil in a large pan. Heat the oil and then add the garlic. Sweat the garlic over a gentle heat until it becomes golden in colour. When the garlic becomes golden, quickly remove it from the pan and discard it.
- Next, add the onion and sweat over a medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until it is soft.
- Add the rice.
- Stir until the rice is completely coated with 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 the 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 passata and stir.
- This is the colour you should get after the tomato passata is evenly distributed.
- Meanwhile you keep going, adding stock as required and stirring (gently). The graph shows the rice after about 10 minutes 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 crab meat.
- So, add the crab meat into the pan.
- Stir to evenly distribute the crab meat. 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, just because we are dealing with the Vialone nano rice variety, keep the risotto slightly wetter than usual, I would say more loose (when using Carnaroli or Arborio rice, I usually suggest adding stock gradually in the last minutes of cooking in order to avoid the risotto becoming too watery - see this specific comment in the other risotto recipes).
- When the rice is perfectly cooked "al dente", add the parsley.
- Stir for a few seconds and serve (if you compare this recipe with the other risotto recipes in the website, you will notice that I am not using Parmesan cheese or butter here).
- 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.
- Buon appetito
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