Risotto rice is plump, short to medium grained and high in starch, which gives this popular dish its creamy texture. Of the several different varieties, carnaroli is preferred in most regions of Italy and said to produce the creamiest risotto. It is available from good delicatessens and specialist provedores and is more resistant to overcooking than the more commonly available arborio rice.
Serves 6 as an entrée
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1.75 litres fish stock
500g carnaroli rice
¾ cup dry white wine
1 bunch green asparagus, chopped, tips halved lengthways (see notes)
500g green prawns, peeled, deveined and halved lengthways
1 x 250g squid, cleaned and cut into thin strips, tentacles discarded
100g saucer scallops, trimmed and quartered
100g baby English spinach
Salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large, high-sided frying pan over medium-high heat and fry onion and garlic for a few minutes, until soft but not coloured.
Meanwhile, bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan, cover and keep on lowest heat.
Add rice to onion and stir for a couple of minutes until grains are hot and well coated in oil. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Reduce heat to medium, add 2 ladlefuls of stock and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue stirring, adding stock a ladleful at a time for 10 minutes, stirring constantly and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.
After 10 minutes, stir in asparagus. Continue stirring in stock for 4 minutes, then add prawns and squid and continue stirring in stock for another 2-4 minutes, until rice is tender, with a slight bite and creamy consistency; you may not need all of the stock.
Stir scallops, spinach, butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper through the rice, adding a little more stock if necessary to give a creamy consistency. Taste, add extra salt if needed and serve immediately on a flat plate, tapping the bottom of the plate to spread the risotto out.
If asparagus is thick and woody, discard the woody bottom section and peel the spears with a potato peeler.
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