ne of my ambitions and I guess you could say ‘New Years resolutions’ this year is to experiment more with my recipes and ingredients. We all get into a rut of cooking the same comforting dishes to hit the spot after a long day at work but there is such a vast array of choice out there so make the most of it. Even the most obscure ingredients can be sourced somewhere these days. So I think this blog post does my resolution justice!? I promise this dish is not as scary as it looks – for cooking or eating!
After a visit to a lovely Venetian restaurant last year where a friend and I devoured a collection of tapas style dishes, I enjoyed my first proper experience of squid ink. A dish of Acini di Pepe (a peppercorn-like pasta) speckled with succulent clams and tender pieces of octopus resting in a warm velvety squid ink sauce was devine. A subtle fishy taste and beautiful texture inspired this risotto recipe. Traditionally in Venetian cooking, squid ink can be found in risottos and black rice. However I went a little off-piste in Italy over in Spain with the cooking of the octopus. Chargrilled chunks of tender octopus rolled warm and delicately in a lovely fresh lemony gremolata.
However, this recipe would also be delicious kept authentic and Venetian topped with grilled squid, crab or prawns. You can find squid ink from many fishmongers. I stumbled across mine in a local Spanish deli near by office.
- 200g aborio rice
- 50 g butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 large garlic glove, crushed
- 1 small glass white wine
- 1 litre hot fresh fish stock
- 2-3 tbsp grated parmesan
- 1 sachet squid ink (the one I used was 4g)
- Juice 1/2 lemon
- Octopus, squid, crab or prawns of choice (I used pre cooked Octopus which I simply chargrilled. However you can buy fresh and cook from scratch)
- Olive oil
- Handful chopped flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
- Zest 1 lemon
- Make the gremolata by combining the ingredients together and seasoning. Set aside until needed.
- Now start making the risotto. Have a pan of the hot stock on the hob on a low heat ready to use.
- Heat half the butter and a splash of oil in a saucepan over a medium low heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes until very soft but not golden.
- Once soft, turn up the heat and add the rice. Toast for 2-3 minutes stirring it around in the buttery onions.
- Now add the wine and allow it to bubble and simmer. Once half absorbed add the squid ink and stir in thoroughly to combine. Season
- Now begin adding the hot fish stock a ladle at a time adding another only after each has been absorbed, stirring the grains continuously. Do not let the rice get dry however.
- Continue in this way for abut 18-20 minutes until the rice is just cooked with a very slight bite when tasted. You may need all the stock but use as much as needed.
- When the rice is cooked and ready and the consistency is loose and fairly runny (risotto should not be stodgy but it should be served in a bowl and have an ‘oozing’ consistency) season to taste. Add the rest of the butter cut into knobs, the cheese and the lemon juice and do not stir. Just remove from the heat and put a lid on the pan to allow it to rest.
- Meanwhile heat a griddle pan (or use the grill on a high setting). Add a splash of oil and season the octopus. Chargrill the octopus on both sides to heat through and char. Once hot and ready quickly roll the octopus in the gremolata.
- Return your attention to your risotto. Remove the lid and stir to combine the butter and cheese thoroughly. Add a splash of boiling water if the consistency is not as intended of ‘oozing’ enough.
- Serve the risotto in warmed deep bowls topped with you grilled octopus. Drizzle with a little oil if wanted.
NOTE: I like to serve this with another Italian staple, Pangrattato or ‘toasted breadcrumbs’. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a hot pan. Add a crushed garlic clove and then about 50g of breadcrumbs. Toast until golden. Then use to scatter on risotto, salads or pasta.