Seafood Risotto

This morning started unusually early for me. I was even earlier than the usual rush hour. I caught a glimpse of myself from the reflections of the bar mirror wall. Who's this tired lady? Oh gosh! That's me! Pale with bloated eyes. Hair is out-of-place. My necklace didn't match my outfit. I should have checked myself before I went out. I hope I didn't look like this for those days that I forgot to check the mirror.
These few weeks had been kind of nerve wreaking. Contractors, suppliers, deliveries, schedules, WIPs, delays… The list of things-to-do just adds on. All the co-ordination work. All the planning details. This morning, I am so glad coming in to see the bar finally up and looking pretty good. The painters are painting the walls a lovely dark shade at this very moment. The cornices are attached - it's gives a nice detail. Can't wait to see the electrician finish fixing up all the teacup lampshade along the bar. I had a final menu tasting before we went off for the weekend. I couldn't be more pleased with Jeff (our very dedicated chef that had gone through six months of turmoil with us). He will be here in awhile to prep the kitchen. We are starting the new menu today. The printer guy will be delivering our brand new menu later. Just in time for that. Who will be ordering our very first set of meat balls? Here, waiting for everything to happen, I am stealing a moment over 2 cups of coffee to write this post. You now know what I've been up to. Please mind my absence.
There's a lot more to be done before we open today. The staff will be in early too for clearing up. And yes! The very first day with the new lovely uniforms. Back to work for now. I leave you with last night's dinner that left me lusting over.
The bar cladding and new menu.

Serves 4 hungry people

Mixed seafood
15-20 fresh prawns, shelled and deveined. Keep the shells for the stock
3 medium squid, clean, cut and scored with diagonal lines
8 large mussels, I used frozen but if you are using fresh, cook mussels in the stock until its open.

Bloat the cleaned prawns and squid with paper towels. Marinate with some salt, pepper and olive oil.

2 stick celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3-4 clove garlic, remove skin
2 bay leaves
½ cup dry white wine
1 liter chicken stock

In a stockpot, Add olive oil and sauté the prawns and squid until barely cooked through. You might want to sauté the prawns, squid and mussels in portions so that the pot is not overcrowded to form a nice crust. Set seafood aside.

In the same pot, add more oil if required, sauté the prawn shells and bash it about with the back of your wooden spoon. Add the onions, garlic, carrot and celery. Cooked until the vegetable soften a bit. The onions will start to look translucent. Deglaze the pot with wine. Add the bay leaves and chicken stock and let simmer for an hour. Sieve out the shells and vegetable. Pour the stock back into the pot and bring to a low simmer. Season with salt generously. It is okay for the stock to be saltier than usual so each grain of risotto will be season properly from the inside out.

Cooking the risotto
1½ cup risotto
2 chillies, deseeded and diced
2 tablespoon cream
1 pinch saffron strands
Good quality extra virgin oil for dressing
The cooked seafood above
Bunch of parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

In a large saucepan on medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring to thoroughly coat. Crumble the saffron into the wine and add it to the rice. Cook, stirring until the wine is absorbed. Add 1 cup of stock, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock ½ cup at a time, and stirring constantly until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce, about 20 minutes total. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cream to bring everything together. Toss in the seafood with all the resting juice. Stir in the parsley and chillies.

Plate the risotto with a squeeze of lemon juice and dressed with a good lug of extra virgin olive oil.

Set the table, light a candle. Serve risotto immediately with a green salad and plenty of white wine.

- till next post, ss. 

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