The inspiration for making this dish (as always) is that we recently visited our favorite fisherman store not far from Jaffa port. They have huge variety of fresh fish and seafood. The mussels were so fresh, that even after spending a couple of days in a refrigerator they were still in a top shape and almost all “opened up” when being cooked.
It is absolutely crucial to use fresh seafood for this risotto. Don’t even bother trying this with frozen or pre-cooked ones.
(For 6-7 portions)
A pinch of Saffron “threads”
1.5 liter of fish stock
300 ml. of dry white wine
0.5 kg. shripms
1 kg. mussels
6 small calamari
75 gr. butter
1 onion finely chopped
500 gr. of large round risotto rice
Parsley for serving
Pour some amount of boiling water over the saffron and leave it for soaking for some time.
Now lets start cooking the seafood. Peel the shrimps (don’t forget to remove the black vein from the back). Cut off the heads (I’d recommend leaving them for the fish/seafood stock). Open the exoskeleton of the crams, clean up all the internal organs and cut the remaining crab in two halves.
Using the mussel cleaning brush, clean the mussels (throw away the ones that opened up before the cooking and don’t close up by themselves when knocking upon them).
Peel and clean the calamari and cut into rings.
Bring the fish stock and the wine to boiling (no need to boil it), and immediately add the shrimp heads, and then bring to boil again and cook for 20 minutes. Strain the resulting liquid through a fine cheesecloth and throw away the shrimp heads. Bring to boiling again, add the shrimps and cook for 2 minutes (the stock shouldn’t boil during this cooking stage). Remove the shrimps (you could use a slotted spoon for that). Now add the crabs and cook for 8 minutes. Remove them after cooking, again, using a slotted spoon.
Add the calamari to the stock, bring to boil again and cook for 2 minutes. Then remove the calamari.
Add mussels, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes (again, the stock shouldn’t be boiling at this point). Remove the mussels and throw away all “closed” ones.
* Personally, at this stage I pull the mussels (flesh) from the shells and throw away the shells. I only leave about 15 shells intact for decoration. All this is done for convenience. One could use mussels with shells in the risotto, but then shells get stuffed with rice and it becomes complicated to take it out. So, if you’re cooking for yourself and not for “show-off”, I strongly recommend doing it this way.
We’re done with the preparations, now we can start working on the risotto.
Take a cauldron (or anything similar), and on a high heat first melt the butter, and then add the onions.
Fry the onions a bit, while stirring….
Add all the rice at once, mix/stir thoroughly. We would like to have all the rice covered with melted butter. Reduce the heat to minimum and start pouring in the broth, gradually, ladle after ladle. After pouring in each ladle of stock wait until the liquid gets absorbed by the rice, stirring occasionally. Add all but (approximately) 2 ladles of liquid. The rice, at this point, should reach an “al-dente” state – firm rice covered with thick sauce.
Spread the cooked seafood on top of the rice, pour the remaining broth and the “tincture” of saffron, cover with a lid.
Cook everything together for 5 additional minutes. Spread the chopped parsley on top and serve at once. If you try to keep this dish before serving, the rice will get overcooked, the sauce will get absorbed completely and it will become a huge mess.