From Jamie’s Italy
1.5 litres water
2 small carrots, roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, squashed
1 bay leaf
a small bunch of fresh parsley, one sprig left whole, remaining leaves picked and finely chopped
1.5kg mixed seafood (see above), scaled, cleaned, gutted, with heads and gills removed, mussels debearded
1 x basic risotto recipe
½ a bulb of fennel, finely chopped, herby tops reserved
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
a pinch of crumbled dried chilli
a pinch of saffron strands
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
This risotto is something very special. You will need a mixture of seafood – try red mullet, monkfish, bream, John Dory, cod, mussels, clams, prawns and a little sliced squid. You can either use bought fish stock to make this risotto or you can have a go at making your own, as I do here. (Ask your fishmonger for the fish heads to use in the stock – these usually go into the bin, so you shouldn’t be charged for them). I’m going to make it in a slightly different way to the normal method, where I would fillet the fish before adding the bones and fish-heads to the stock, so bear with me!
Put the exact amount of water into a large pan with the carrots, tomatoes, bay leaf and whole parsley sprig and bring to the boil, adding your whole fish but not your shellfish. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove each fish from the pan and flake the flesh away from the bones. (If you have a cod head, try to remove the cheeks as they’re the best bit!) Put the meat on a plate to one side; return any bones to the stock to simmer for another 15 minutes max, skimming any froth off the surface every so often. Meanwhile start your basic risotto, adding the fennel, fennel seeds, chilli and saffron to the pan at Stage 1.
Pass the stock through a colander into another pan and throw away the vegetables and bones. Add most of the fish stock to your risotto, keeping a little to finish the dish, and when the rice is nearly cooked towards the end of Stage 3, add your flaked fish and shellfish. After 3 or 4 minutes the shellfish will have opened (discard any that remain closed); then remove from the heat.
As you’re not supposed to mix cheese and fish in pasta or risotto dishes we’re not going to finish it with Parmesan. Instead, at Stage 4, when you add the butter, check the seasoning, drizzle with a lug of extra virgin olive oil and squeeze over the lemon juice. To serve, divide the risotto between your plates, and spoon over the remaining stock. Drizzle with some more extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and the reserved fennel tops.
Ok, I didn’t follow all the steps above; I didn’t add any clams and most importantly, I didn’t make the fish stock (it’s from a stock cube although I did put it some prawn heads to give the fish stock an extra bite) But still it turned out pretty well. I think the standard of my risotto is right *there* now… I need to taste the risotto in really good italian restaurants to see how I can improve it.
Olive crusted red snapper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large handful of basil
a good squeeze of lemon juice
10 kalamata olives , pitted and roughly chopped
85g fresh breadcrumbs
2 red snapper fillet
Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Mix the lemon juice, olives and basil together with a good swig of extra virgin olive oil, then stir in the breadcrumbs.
Lay the fish fillets on a baking tray, skinside down, then press the crumbs over the surface of each piece. Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins until the fish is cooked through and the crust is crisp and brown.
I think the fish should be grilled for a few minutes to make the crust crisp. Mine wasnt crisp enough. Still the combination works wonderfully well with the fish. I just need a few more tries to perfect this method of cooking fish.