Seafood Ink Risotto (Risotto al nero di frutti di mare)

This is one of the most luscious dishes that can be found in the Veneto Region of Italy. It comes, more specifically, from Venice itself.

The addition of the squid ink to the risotto is simple: it is in the hot broth that is slowly added to the risotto. Squid ink can be found at specialty Italian markets or on the Internet. These packages are most often from Spain. Look for the products that have very small packets of ink, usually .15 ounce size. You only need one package for this recipe quantity. The remaining packets can be kept in the refrigerator if purchased cold. Besides the color, the squid ink adds a very intense taste of the ocean.

Makes 4 appetizer portions or 2 main course portions.

Ingredients and Directions:

  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 8-ounce bottles of clam juice (you could substitute with a shrimp or mild fish stock)
  • One small squid ink packet (about .15-ounce size)
  • 6 tablespoons of oil olive (split in two parts: half for the risotto and the rest for the shell fish)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 pound bay scallops
  • 1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped to about the same size as the scallops
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

In a medium sauce pan, combine the water and clam juice and heat to a simmer. Squeeze the contents of one (1) squid ink package into the hot liquid and stir to dissolve.

In a heavy-bottomed large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until soft and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and saute for about 2 minutes. The rice should begin to become translucent. Add the wine and stir till the wine is almost all absorbed.

Reduce heat to simmer.

Now the fun part! Begin to add the hot broth to the risotto pan in one-ladle amounts. Remember to keep the broth hot during this whole process. Between ladles, continuously and slowly stir the risotto mixture to allow the rice to absorb the broth. This whole process will take about 20 minutes and the risotto will become creamy, and dark due to the squid ink.

Here are a few tips for during this process:

  1. Use a wooden or silicon spoon if possible. Avoid metal.
  2. Be careful not to let the risotto burn or boil. Especially watch the center of the pan. You want to add more stock when MOST of the previous batch has been absorbed.
  3. If you think you will run low on broth, add hot water to the broth to replenish. You don’t want to run out before the end.

While you are stirring, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, shrimp and scallops and saute until they are begin to turn opaque. Remove from heat. If white-milky liquid has formed from the scallops, keep that in the pan. That’s flavor!

Shortly before the risotto is done, add the seafood mixture to the risotto and stir in. The seafood will cook the rest of the way in the risotto. You will know the risotto is done when it’s creamy but still a little al dente. Remove from heat, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Just before serving, stir in the parsley and ladle into bowls. ABSOLUTELY do not serve cheese with this, or someone from the food police will knock on your door.

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