Lisa saves the day. Seafood Risotto with Asparagus Spears.

Squid & Prawn Risotto2I had a post written and ready to go. Ready to go that is except that I needed a top quality rib joint to prepare, roast, photograph and serve to my review group (mother, wife, eldest & youngest daughters). Then all I had to do was add in the recipe bit and the photos to the meat of my writing, as it were. They were looking forward to something special. They are a loving bunch but to my personal chagrin they have got used to getting their own way on the food front…

It was early Saturday morning, nothing to do until a 10.00 am brunch appointment. Plenty of time. The plan was to do was the grocery shopping, call to George’s Fish Shop for fish then on to John’s Meat Co. for the beef. Nothing could go wrong. Could it?

07.45 – Finish morning cup of tea. Spring from bed and, with military precision, start the day.

08.30 – Grocery shopping done.

09.05 – Fish bought.

09.07 – Bemusement. John’s is shut. What’s going on? Not another victim of our economic woes? Is there a death in the family? Of course, no, not death or recession. It’s St. Patrick’s Day! That’s why they are shut. “No problem.” I think. I’ll go to Dun Laoghaire and get something appropriate down there.

09.18 – Park up the car and walk down Dun Laoghaire Main Street with a growing sense of foreboding.  Nearly every shop including the butchers is shut. “No problem.” I declare with more bravado than I was feeling. I’ll go to the shopping centre and get the beef in Mick Doyle’s butcher.

09.26 – Panic rising. I look at the empty display cases in the unlit window of Doyle’s. “No problem…..”

09.33 – Back at the car. A family to feed. A beef blog written and nothing to substantiate or support my bovine prose. Thankfully, youngest daughter was with me. She cut through my befuddlement and ordered me back to the fish shop.

09.55 – Lisa, daughter of George and fish expert extraordinaire recommends the squid and some prawns. She pushes the meat free decision across the line by throwing in a couple of packets of squid ink. This facilitates Seafood Risotto with Squid, Prawns with Asparagus Spears. It’s not beef, but…

The pair of squid. They look kind of cute lying there, don’t you think?

Here’s what you will need to feed 6

  • 2 good-sized squid
  • Half a kilo of uncooked prawns
  • 1.25 litres of fish stock
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 2 packets of squid ink (I was going to try to get the ink sac out of the cephalopod but I failed miserably, ending up with black hands while I cleaned it.)
  • 2 onions
  • 400gm of risotto rice
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
  • A glass of white wine (Whatever you will be serving with the dish.)
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Here’s what to do
Clean and prepare the squid. Oh, don’t be such a Jessie. It’s easy. First, pull out its backbone.

Pull the backbone (or quill) out. Lisa told my youngest you could write in squid ink using the quill. She was not impressed….

Put your hand inside and pull out all the guts, taking care not to burst the ink sac, like I did twice. Then peel off the outer skin. Take the membrane from the wings too. Clean it inside and out.

Peel it like a banana. The wings will come away. Then peel the wings.

Take the tentacle bit (still attached to the innards) and squeeze the beak out. Yes, they have a beak. Remove any straggling membrane.

Don’t wimp out now. Squash the beak out. Pull the messy stuff off and take pride in your work.

Cut the tentacles off just in front of the eyes. Cut the main tube into rings. Throw away the bits you don’t want to consider eating. You should be left with the tentacles, feelers (like very long tentacles), rings and wings.

Bring the stock to a simmer. Stir in the tomato puree and the ink. Chop the onions and half the garlic while the stock is warming. Sweat the onions and garlic over a low heat in your risotto pan. When they are translucent and not burnt, add the rice. Stir until well mixed.

Add the wine and stir until the mixture is gloopy and the wine is mostly absorbed. Add most of the squid, keeping some to fry with some of the prawns, in the remaining garlic.

When the wine has evaporated / been absorbed, add the squid and a ladle of inky black stock.

Add a ladle of stock. Stir until the mixture is gloopy. Add another ladle of stock Stir until the mixture is gloopy again.

Nearly there. Keep stirring. It will be worth it in the end…

Repeat until the risotto is cooked. This should take about half an hour. Add most of the prawns, stir them in and put the lid on. Leave it for ten minutes or so.

When the risotto is cooked, toss in the prawns and mix them in.

The prawns will cook in that time. Taste. You are smart and will have timed the steaming of the asparagus to suit. You will also have fried off the remaining prawns and squid in olive oil and garlic, getting your timing right there too. Adjust the seasoning and serve to the hungry hoard.

It tasted even better than it looked. The simple steamed asparagus is an excellent partner for the risotto.

This turned out wonderfully well. Lisa really saved the day. The review group gave their St. Patrick’s Day blessing to the meal. However, even St. Patrick should not stand between my girls and their beef. I need to hear a good excuse from John….

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Latest comments
  • Some people give me crazy looks when I say you can use squid ink for culinary purposes, as though I were advocating emptying a Bic pen into the pot. Yours looks amazing; been ages since I made a risotto.

    • Thanks Andrew. It was as tasty as it looks. It was a first for me with the ink.

  • Looks good Conor and nice save to the day!

  • Hi Conor

    Yummmmmmmm – the clean taste and colour of the asparagus next to the inky risotto sounds like a sublime touch. Must try that soon, with Picpoul de Pinet for the white wine 🙂

  • “Oh, don’t be such a Jessie” – LOL – I’ve never cleaned my own squid but I love it. And they are just adorable, those little twin cephalopods waiting for the pot. And my daughter cries about eating cute things. Bah, lambs are cute but oh so delicious. Even cows are cute if you get to know them. 🙂

  • Looks lovely. I’m sorry to hear about your St. Patrick’s Day troubles getting some beef. I am glad that it all worked out in the end. Beautiful photos and I’m sure the meal was amazing.

  • Risotto Nero is food of the Gods! We will be in Venice May 8th to dive into it

  • Great post. I’ve never actually seen a full squid in my fishmongers, they’ve always cleaned them and gutted them beforehand. I’d say it was tough handling a camera and taking all those pictures with your hands covered in squid goo!

  • Hi I nominated you for THE VERY INSPIRING AWARD & THE VERSATILE BLOGGER. I really enjoy your blog and wanted to give you recognition!
    Tastfully Yours

  • This recipe looks really delicious. Risotto is my favorite, so I always love to see new ideas for making it.

  • I heard a rumour that Irish don’t eat seafood. Nice to hear that rumour ain’t true 🙂 Looks great and excellent instructions for cleaning squid!

    • The seafood thing goes back a couple of generations and our subjugation by the catholic church. We were obliged to eat fish on every Friday. Our natural reaction was to cow-tow to the almighty church but to resent the fish. Thankfully, we have grown to see both the church and the fish for what they really are.

  • This looks delicious! I’ve never had squid ink – what kind of flavor does it give the risotto? Or does it just give it a pretty color? Also, bravo for taking on the prep-work for the squid. You’re braver than I am.

    • No particular flavour. Great fun chasing youngest (20) around the house with the squid. Worth it for that alone.

  • Damn, you beat me to the squid ink trial… Been wanting to give this one a go for a while now and you may have just inspired me to make the leap

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