You’ll find a version of Risotto ai Frutti di Mare at most Italian seaside resorts. It’s Michela’s favourite summer beach food and she eats it every time we hit the shore on our Italian holidays. Cooking with seafood is really simple once you get the hang of it – ask your friendly fishmonger if you need any advice.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small fresh chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
8 baby squid, prepared, cleaned and sliced into 1cm rings
350g Arborio rice
A wine glass of white wine
900ml hot fish stock
100g cockles or shelled mussels
200g raw prawns, shelled (if frozen, make sure they’re fully defrosted)
8 raw king prawns, heads and tails left on (if frozen, make sure they’re fully defrosted)
Fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional: a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, picked leaves
In a heavy-bottomed pan (large enough to hold about 2 litres of water) heat 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium heat. Add half the chilli, half the garlic and all of the squid. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the squid is just cooked through. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Stir in the rice and let it absorb the oil. Keep stirring so the rice doesn’t stick to the pan. Pour in the wine and continue to stir for about 2 minutes. The aim is to burn off the alcohol, leaving just a hint of the lovely wine flavour.
Add the hot stock to the rice, one ladleful at a time. Stir between each addition until the liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding the next. Continue until you’ve added all the stock, stirring continuously. This will take about 20 minutes. Add the cockles or mussels and cook for 5 minutes before adding the shelled prawns.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Fry the king prawns with the remaining chilli and garlic for 2 minutes, until they are nicely pink and cooked through.
To check the rice is cooked, taste a few grains; it should be soft but with a slight bite. If it needs a bit longer, add a little hot water. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and serve in bowls, with the king prawns arranged on top and sprinkled with the parsley leaves, if using.
Try experimenting with different fish. Emi likes to make this with just prawns and Miki likes to use mussels or clams still in their shells, so she can get her hands in the dish! If you’re nervous about cooking with seafood, you can buy a seafood mix from the supermarket. Stir it all in when you would be adding the cockles – the seafood will only take a few minutes but make sure it’s cooked through before serving.