I would normally happily eat pretty much anything, and there aren’t very many things that I don’t like. In fact, I can’t think of any, except for… squid! Brrrrr… My brothers and my uncle fish for squid, and all my family adore it and eat it fairly frequently, depending on how successful their fishing trips are! However, I rather dislike both squid and cuttlefish; fried or grilled, baked in the oven or in peka (cast iron dish covered in burning wood, very popular in Croatia). There is something about the structure, and the taste that doesn’t appeal to me at all. Unless they’re prepared in a risotto or a brudet (fish stew eaten with polenta), when the rubbery chewiness of the flesh is softened into flavoursome meatiness that melts in the mouth. The risotto, also known as the black risotto, is one of my favourite! I bought some fresh cuttlefish at the fishmonger’s this week, and made it for my boyfriend and me. Here is the recipe. You can use either cuttlefish or squid. Enjoy!
Cuttlefish Risotto or Black risotto
(Croatian: Crni rizot)
2 onions, chopped finely
1 medium to large carrot, grated
1 clove of garlic, chopped
500 g cuttlefish (cleaned weight), the ink reserved
A splash of white wine
a little chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
a small sprig of rosemary
150 g Arborio or some other risotto rice
Fry the onions for a little in some vegetable oil. Add grated carrots. Fry the carrot and onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until it becomes soft, and the onions become slightly browned. Halfway through, add garlic. Be patient, as this can take a while. Please don’t be tempted to do this quickly, as this is an important step.
When the onions are done, add the chopped cuttlefish and fry it. When it’s done, add a little water and stir. This will further soften up the onions, so they are almost melted. When the water evaporates, and some more, and repeat the process until you get a mushy saucy mixture. Add the cuttlefish ink to colour the risotto black. Add a little of tomato pure and some more water to cover the cuttlefish. Cook until it becomes soft. Then, add the wine, rosemary and the bay leaf. Add rice and season to taste. Cook until the rice is soft, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary later on.
Serve with a green leafy salad. In Dalmatia, we often use a very simple vinaigrette made with some red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a little salt to season the salads. The flavour of the risotto nicely contrasts with the vinegary flavour of the salad. Try using this simple vinaigrette with your choice of salad leaves.