Rice is an important part of the diet of many civilizations around the world, and has been for several centuries, particularly on account of its lightness and its ability to grow in humid areas. The Phoenicians and the Chinese ate it long before us, who only came to know it in the nineteenth century when it arrived in Italy through Sicily, in the hands of the Arabs. The Italians learned to cultivate it in the lowlands and marshes of the Po Valley and, in particular, in the territories between Lombardy and Piedmont. Nevertheless, with this ‘risotto marinara’ we are travelling to the hot and sunny climate of the island of Sicily. And it is the sea that gives us the basic ingredients for this recipe, in a perfect balance of fish and rice.
6 handfuls of Vialone risotto rice
1 knob of butter
Serves 3 persons
Wash and clean the mussels and clams. Heat in a pan until they open. Remove the mussels and clams from their shells and throw the latter away; set aside the seafood. Prepare a fish stock with any leftover fish parts you can get your hands on, also using the cooking liquid of the molluscs – you will use this stock to make the risotto. Make a sauce of king prawns and set aside 3 prawns per person to cook separately. Cut the squid into rings. Hand chop two tomatoes; separately chop together some garlic and parsley. Fry the garlic and parsley for a few moments and add one of the two tomatoes (keep one aside to garnish at the end). Fry for a few minutes, then add the king prawn sauce and the squid. After a while, add the rice and white wine and let it evaporate. Add the fish stock and continue cooking, adding more stock as necessary. Shortly before it is ready, cook the whole king prawns in a separate pan with salt and pepper. When cooked, add the shelled mussels and clams and whisk in a knob of butter. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh pepper, a little chopped tomato and parsley, and the king prawns to garnish.
To prepare your seafood risotto you can use any variety of squid and also other types of prawn: in both cases some varieties will be a little tougher than others.
This recipe for seafood risotto has spread to practically all the maritime regions of Italy: this particular version, however, is a native of Sicily.