One of my most favourite dinner recipes to make in Summer is Squid Ink Risotto. While for some people, the thought of eating squid ink is a little odd, I absolutely love it! I’m not quite sure exactly how I would describe the flavour that Squid Ink adds to a dish other than that it is distinctly seafood-like without being overbearing or “fishy”. I think that part of the reason that I love this dish is because of the story behind the first time I ever encountered it. For me, this dish reminds me of my first time overseas when I travelled to Spain. Prior to this, I had never tried Squid Ink, come to think of it I don’t think I had even realised you could use it as an ingredient! But I saw it on a menu one night at dinner and thought “hey why not” after being told it was quite a traditional Spanish dish. When it came out to the table, I was presented with a beautiful white plate filled with plump little grains of black rice which was served with sweet juicy mango, fresh basil and ripe roasted tomatoes. I can honestly still taste the it! As I ate it all I could think of was “wow! I can’t wait to cook this for my family when I get home” and thats exactly what I did. Over the years I’ve found a few different recipes online which I’ve gradually adapted to match what I remember to be the flavours of what I tasted in Spain. So here it is, my recipe for Risotto al Nero di Seppia (aka Squid Ink Risotto).
What You’ll Need: (Serves 4)
3 shallots or 1 red onion (finely diced)
1 bay leaf
250g Arborio Rice (traditionally Carnaroli Rice is used)
250ml white wine
1L chicken stock
125ml Verjuice/lemon juice
Grilled baby Octopus or prawns to garnish
Basil leaves (garnish)
Cherry Tomatoes (spray lightly with olive oil and roast in the oven for 30mins)
1 Mango cheek, peeled and sliced
What I Did:
1. In a large saucepan, heat a small amount of olive oil and add your diced shallots or onion. Keep the heat low so that these soften without becoming browned or burnt. Heat your stock in a separate pan or in a container in the microwave.
2. Turn the heat up to a medium-high level and add your rice, stirring through the onion mixture. This is called toasting the rice and is important as it will help it to absorb all the liquid later. Keep stirring until the rice becomes slightly translucent in the centre.
4. Now for the boring part! Add your stock, ladle by ladle until it is absorbed. You need to stir the rice continuously so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Also add your bay leaf at this stage. This process should continue for about 14mins or until the rice has just a slight bite to it.
5. Add your squid ink (from this point on use a plastic spatula to stir the mixture. A wooden spoon will stain and trust me, it NEVER comes out!). Continue stirring and adding stock for a further four minutes
6. At the end of this time, your rice should be cooked through but still have a very slight bite to it (so its not mushy). Turn the heat off and add your butter and verjuice, stirring the mixture. Pop a lid on top and leave to sit for five minutes. Now would be a good time to cook your seafood or set yourself up for plating.
7. Give it a taste and see if it needs any extra salt or pepper. It generally should be fairly well salted already from the squid ink and stock so I don’t normally add any extra, but its completely up to your taste.
8. If your adding seafood, stir it in and then serve in a nice bowl, topping with fresh mango, roasted tomato and basil. (Note, don’t use tinned mango. I’ve tried it once before and it was way too sweet and a little slimy from the sugar syrup it was tinned in. For this recipe, fresh is best wherever possible! Also please please give the mango a go! I know fruit in a savoury dish is a bit unusual but it completely makes it! I promise!)
So there it is! my favourite Summer recipe! Hope your adventurous enough to give it a go! Trust me, you won’t regret it!