Cuttlefish Risotto

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) 

Serves 2  


 Vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped finely

1 medium to large carrot, grated

1 clove of garlic, chopped

500 g cuttlefish (cleaned weight), the ink reserved


Tomato pure

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

salt, pepper  


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. 



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  1. wow, had no idea there were cuttlefish and squid in croatia. then again, i’m no oceanographer ;P

    love the black/purple colour of the ink it gives the risotto.


  2. Maninas

     /  24 May, 2007

    Thanks! I thought I might have overdone it with the black! 🙂

    Oh yes, there are squid & cuttlefish in Croatia! And they are very popular, especially squid! Croatia’s got a very long coast for a rather small country (5,835 km: mainland 1,777 km, islands 4,058 km), and loads of delicious fish!


  3. Maninas

    I read your recipe with great interest! I am going to try your version next time, adding the carrot and rosemary to the dish, I am sure it is an even more flavorful addition; I noticed that you did not add cheese, was the cheese not traditional? I was also wondering how you cut the octopus? Is there a special technique to follow?


  4. Now that you meantion, no, we don’t acutally use cheese in our risottos that much, but I’m not sure if this is my family only. I know elsewhere there’s usually cheese on the table for sprinkling over the finished dish people want it. Also, we use cuttlefish and squid rather than octopus for this dish.

    I love this risotto. Used to make it quite a lot at one point. Also, squid works really well with red wine, too.

    We usually either bake the octopus, or make a potato and octopus salad. We chop it in bigish pieces, e.g. cut of the tentacles and then cut the head in a few pieces, depending on its size.

    We bake the octopus with potatoes and some oil, and season it simply with salt and pepper. The potatoes come out amazing – moist, and sweet, delicious. This dish goes extremely well with a simple green salad seasoned with a red vine vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette.

    The octopus salad is also a fairly simple affair. You boil the octopus and the potatoes (with the skins on) separately, and then chope them into small pieces, season with salt, pepper, finely chopped garlic (raw) and some olive oil. Add a sprinkling of fresh parsley if you wish.

    Speaking of moluscs, we also do a delicious stew (with lots of caramelised onion and white wine), and then serve it with polenta. One of my favourite dishes!

    I should post these recipes soon! 🙂

    And with this I break a personal record for the longest comment ever! 😀


  5. Hi Maninas,
    I finally got round to trying this with some cuttlefish I caught; it is very good! Thank you very much for the recipe.


  6. Silvana

     /  18 March, 2011

    :)) my favorite dish… love your blog


  7. I tried making this dish this past weekend and it is delicious!


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