Whether it be spaghetti con vongole (clams), or steamed mussels, or a rich risotto con frutti di mare, there is one thing I enjoy immensely with a strong will and that is fresh seafood.
I have always wanted to do a seafood dish, but have been leary, because we are so far from ocean or sea, and freshness for me especially for shell fish like clams or mussels is very important.
When Nicoletta and I are in Italy in the summer months, this is not a problem. In fact the first thing we do when my second mother and father (in-laws) come to pick us up, is go to the fish markets. After leaving the confines of the airport and heading due west as Franco navigates with his co-pilot Tonina heads the coordinate department, a few sessions of yelling, a smell fills the air, salty, briny, a humid breeze at about 93% humidity. We are in the old city of Fiumicino. A sea port, masts of large fishing boats, a long centering canal. The warmth of the sun gentle as it is eased by that salty humid air. Your skin shimmers as if sprinkled with precious metals, and as we get out of the car the sounds of people and fish mongers fills the air. This is where I get really excited because I know I am in for some eye candy, rows upon rows of seafood, fish so fresh it is still moving, squid, baby squid, clams, mussels, shrimp, prawns, tuna, sword fish, I think you get the idea. I feel like I am in seafood heaven. The thing I love most is the discourses between shopper and fish monger as the dance of bartering begins, and in the end always a hand shake a a bid farewell, and pride for the one who wins the price battle.
Well today I am quite far from that place I love so much, but we do have some fish markets, not a lot, and I found some great fresh clams, mussels, scallops, and Argentinian shrimp not fresh but frozen, as it is very very hard to get shrimp fresh because of the distance, however I think it's going to work, and by the smell of all this Seafair, I know it is going to make this dish, lip smacking, and mouth watering, good! Thank you to Fin's Seafood in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada for the wonderful fresh seafood.
So here we go with the Seafood Risotto!
This is a multi level seafood cooking experience, combined with the slow and low cooking of the risotto, which is a great dish for that weekend lunch. Each component cooked separately, the mussels in a veggie broth, onion and San Marzano tomato sauce inebriated with a nice dry white wine steamed to full on goodness. Clams steamed then sauteed in a nice olive oil, extra virgin and cold pressed of course, a nice translucent onion and garlic, finished with drizzle of white wine harmonizing all the flavors. Scallops seared to a nice crispy edged golden brown cut into bite size pieces, and the shrimp mingling with the clams in all those seafood briny, juices, distinct, flavored by the sea, but in this case the ocean as the sea is a bit far to transport fresh. The risotto, a dance between the Arborio rice and the veggie and shrimp broth, tantalized by the tomatoes, white wine, with morsels of shrimp, mussels, scallops, and clams. Seafood heaven in a bowl, a delight to anyone who loves risotto and fruits of the sea.
Each bite an enticing experience of flavor from the muskiness of the mussels, to the brininess of the clams, sweetness from the scallops to that fleshy salty, soft moist juiciness of the Argentinian shrimp. Put that together with the risotto slightly starchy and a nice little crunch, bathed in a rich tomato sauce creamed by panna (heavy cream), a little of parsley mother natures peppery flavoring, and you are set to sit and enjoy this amazing and wonderful labor of love, Seafood Risotto.
- 32 clams
- 32 mussels
- 10 Argentinian shrimp
- 6 large scallops
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 6-8 cups vegetable broth
- 1 yellow onion chopped fine
- 4 cloves garlic stem removed and minced
- 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup of canned San Marzano tomatoes chopped
- ⅛ cup heavy cream
- Pat of butter
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- Wash and clean really well clams and place in a bowl of room temperature water .
- Wash and clean mussels removing tendant that sticks out from shell and place in another bowl with room temperature water.
- Wash scallops and drain and dry with some paper towel.
- Peel shell off shrimp and remove vein wash and place in a strainer to drain.
- In a pot put vegetable stock and put in the shrimp shells turn to a low simmer.
- In a medium pot add ½ cup water and put clams in, bring to a medium simmer tossing clams to ensure all are cooked.about 20 minutes
- Take off heat and let cool, remove about 40 percent of the clams from shell and place in a small bowl. Strain and filter the left over water and put in broth pot with shrimp shells.
- In a medium saute pan heat up 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and place in ¼ cup of the chopped onion and 2 teaspoons of the minced garlic.
- Saute for about 2 minutes then add in the shelled clams and the ones with shell, adding in shrimp at this time too.
- Pour in ¼ cup of white wine,¼ cup chopped san marzano tomatoes, and simmer
- Cook for about 3- 5 minutes then take off heat and set aside.
- In a large pot bring 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium to high heat.
- Toss in ½ cup chopped onion, and 2 teaspoons of the minced garlic.
- Saute till onions are translucent.
- Add onion powder and paprika.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, the place in ¼ cup of the chopper San Marzano tomatoes.
- Stir well the place in mussels and add ¾ cups of the white wine.
- Pour in ¼ cup vegetable stock cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Take off heat and let cool.
- Again remove about 40 percent of the mussels from shell and place in another bowl.
- In a small saute pan heat up 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and bring to a high heat.
- Place scallops in pan and sear all sides till they are a nice golden brown caramelized color.
- Take off heat and cut into bite size pieces
- In a large deep saute pan drizzle in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, bring to a medium to high heat.
- Toss in remaining onions about ¼ cup and 1 teaspoon minced garlic and let saute for about 3 minutes.
- Pour in carnaroli rice and coat well with the oil.
- Drizzle in ¼ cup of white wine and pour in some of the shrimp and veggie broth till it is just about covering the rice.
- Keeping heat on medium, stir rice frequently and as the broth dissipates add more broth.
- Risotto takes about 45 minutes to cook.
- At the 20 minute mark toss in ½ cup chopped san marzano tomatoes and continue stirring and adding broth.
- At the 30 minute mark add in scallops, shrimp, shelled clams and mussels, setting the ones with the shells into the pot that the mussels were cooked in and leave on low heat.
- At the 43 minute mark add in the heavy cream and a pat of butter.
- When risotto has finished cooking, place a nice mounded portion on a plate.
- Top with mussels and clams from pot and orchestrate shrimp and scallops.
- A nice sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley,
- Now we are ready to dig in.
- Bon Apetite!
Cook time can be brought down by combining cook times for example while clams are cooking you can also start mussels etc.
One thing to remember any calms or mussels that are open or broken or have holes in them throw them away they are not good!
Also if aster steaming them they are closed throw those out too!
Remember to rinse the clams and mussels well as they have a fair bit if sand in them.
The song I have chosen is a great way to celebrate the great work completed and the feast enjoyed, might even get you singing and dancing. For celebration is the sustenance that drives the everyday experience to new levels.
Song of the day: "Am I Wrong" by Nico and Vince.
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