Saturday, 9 January 2016

Roe, Roe, Roe Your Boat!

Risotto alla Bottarga con Zucchine, Sambuca & Limone
Risotto with Bottarga, Zucchini, Sambuca & Lemon

Ever curious to try new ingredients and different foods, I brought back a jar of "Bottarga" from my recent visit to Sicily- and decided that this evening should be my premier dish created using it!

What is Bottarga? It is the cured roe of grey mullet, salted, dried and matured and used in a similar way to anchovies, to add richness and seasoning to dishes- usually pasta, in Italian and Sicilian cuisine.

At least it is USUALLY used in pasta dishes- unless I come along and decide to invent a risotto with it instead! Combined with mild zucchini and spiked with a hint of Sambuca and lemon, this was a first time but definitely not the last for this savory, deep-sea gold dust!

For 2 nice servings of my risotto, I needed about 1 teacupful of arborio rice, 1 shallot, 1 small zucchini /a round one in this case), a shot of Sambuca, some light vegetable stock, a little lemon peel, a little parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil- and around a teaspoon of dried, ground bottarga.

Nope- the is no cheese to be found in this recipe- heaven forbid any Italian would add cheese to a pasta or rice dish containing any kind of seafood! There is also no butter in this dish either- which makes it a lighter and somewhat healthier dish at the same time. 

But there IS a lot of great flavor in it- so let's get started and see how to make it!

Begin by finely chopping the shallot and the stalks of the parsley and frying them together until the shallot is soft and translucent- then add the rice and stir it in well until it is all nicely coated in oil.

Once the rice is coated, deglaze the saucepan with a nice shot of Sambuca.

Next, add the finely chopped zucchini and stir it in well.

Then season with a little salt and pepper, add a few slices of lemon zest one begin to stir in the hot vegetable broth, one ladel at a time. Stir until the broth is soaked up by the rice and keep on repeating the same procedure for the next 30-40 minutes until the rice is smooth and delicious.

Serve with a sprinkle of finely chopped parsley and about 1/2 teaspoon of ground, dry bottarga for each serving. Add a drop of olive oil or two and a hint of freshly ground pepper... and enjoy!

I suppose if you were to simply eat the stuff with a spoon, you would find it to be extremely salty and fishy tasting- but when added to plain pasta or mild zucchini- wow! 

Nope, bottarga is like a more expensive dried anchovy kind-of affair- used sparingly, it is a wonderful, complex seasoning- an absolute revelation for one and all!

And most probably for you too!

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