This turned out so well that I’m actually going to post a recipe – something I don’t usually do, because I generally cook from cookbooks and posting recipes is a copyright violation, even if they’ve been tweaked. This one I really made up, triangulating of course from established recipes, my own experience making (non-seafood) risotto, and available ingredients.
Before anyone makes risotto, I recommend that they consult “Desperately Resisting Risotto” by John Thorne in Pot On The Fire, for covering basics, concepts and exploding myths (you don’t have to stir the whole time). As always it’s also an entertaining and thought-provoking read.
I tried to buy fish stock today and failed. So I ended up making my own. I’d bought 1/2 lb wild shrimp from Mexican, unpeeled, and about 5 large Atlantic scallops. I peeled and deveined the shrimp, reserving the shells, and put the shells and half of one of the shrimp to boil in 5 1/2 cups water, 2 bay leaves, 2 smashed cloves garlic, 1 coarsely chopped small onion, and whatever fresh herbs and vegetables I had lying around. In this case it was supermarket flat-leaf parsley, and the last surviving herbs out in the garden: sage and chervil, plus half a zucchini, coarsely chopped. I added 1/2 cup dry vermouth and a splash of dry sherry, brought the whole thing to a boil, skimmed foam, and then kept it gently boiling over medium heat until the stock reduced to 2 cups, and strained it, and then put it back on the heat at just under a simmer. I also brought 5 cups of water to boil in the kettle.
Meanwhile I chopped the scallops into about 5-6 pieces each and the shrimp into 3 pieces. I also chopped a few shallots finely until I had about 3/4 cup (be prepared to tear up – onions are nothing compared to shallots in that dept), and some more fresh sage from the garden. The shallots and sage were then set to saute in 5 tbs well-heated good olive oil. When golden and transparent (4-6 min), I added 1 cup carnaroli rice, and stirred until the rice was toasty-smelling and the tops of the kernels transparent (2-3 min).
Next I added 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a Sancerre) to the rice and stirred until it evaporated, and then started adding 1/2 cup boiling stock at a time to the rice, and stirred / left it sit until it evaporated, then added more, for about 20 minutes. When the stock ran out, I started adding 1/2 cup water. In the middle of this process, I added a relatively small amount of salt and freshly ground pepper. At 20 minutes, you need to start tasting the rice kernels to see that they are done – a subjective process, because some people like more al dente risotto and some like it more well done a la regular rice. Towards the end of the 20 minutes I heated up another 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauteed the shrimp and scallops in them until opaque – 3 minutes at most – and added them to the rice, cooking the mixture for another 3 minutes or so and seasoning well with salt, freshly ground black pepper and some freshly ground Italian dried red peppers as well.
Serve in heated bowls. Sprinkle freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley on the top and serve.