fish stock in the freezer. I was more than happy to defrost a quart for this.
My last endeavor in this field was less than impressive because I thought the tomatoes overpowered everything. Using the fish stock, that was not going to be an issue, but I still chose fennel as my veggie. It does have a strong taste of its own, which tends to dull as it is cooked until it tastes more like an herb than a veggie. You will notice the absence of much seasoning in this dish. That's because the essential ingredients bring most of it with them.
For the seafood, I used half scallops and half fake lobster, which I've never used before. I use the surimi-based crab often because it is easier to deal with than getting real crab meat out of the shell. This was a cheaper alternative to chopping up a lobster tail.
I forgot to buy white wine and popped open a bottle of champagne instead. My alternate go-to would have been an ounce of anisette. While alcohol isn't 100% necessary in risotto, it does help to bring out the flavors. You put it in at the beginning, so the alcoholic content is mostly cooked off during the 45 minutes or so it simmers.
1 Tb olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 bulb fennel
1 C arborio rice (risotto)
*1 C champagne or dry white wine
*1 quart fish stock
1 lb assorted white fish or shellfish, bite-sized
1 Tb lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a 2-qt saucepan, heat fish stock to a low boil. Lower heat to simmer and keep it near the pot you're going to use for the risotto.
2. Add oil to a large pot (4-qt minimum). Over medium heat, cook onions in oil until softened. Slice bulb of fennel thinly, saving feathery tops for garnish (a step I forgot, then had to go scrounging around for something else to use and ended up with parsley). Add fennel and cook several more minutes. Add rice and cook until lightly glazed, about 3 minutes.
3. Add champagne to the risotto pot and stir. Continue stirring lightly until absorbed. Begin adding fish stock one ladle at a time, stirring frequently to avoid scorching and to develop texture. Wait until each ladle-ful is absorbed before adding more. This is going to take at least half an hour. You may want to pour yourself a glass of the champagne to pass the time. If mixture starts to boil, lower heat.
4. At last addition, stir in fish and lemon juice. Continue to stir until remaining liquid is absorbed and fish is cooked, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt or pepper as necessary. Serve in bowls, maybe with a salad or something light on the side.
Difficulty rating :)