A catamaran, hired complete with a local Captain, turned out to be the most memorable holiday pottering around the picturesque Croatian Islands. Fine friends, wonderful scenery, safe beaches and a lot of great wine and food. Croatia is not to be missed. A couple of days before the sailing we booked into a villa overlooking the sea in the quaint town of Opatija (Birthplace of Tennis Star Goran Ivanišević)
Opatija is a Croatian coastal town on the Adriatic Sea. A fashionable resort in the 19th century, it’s dotted with Habsburg-era villas. The Lungomare is a promenade that snakes along the coastline, offering views of the town and neighboring islands.
Arriving after a pleasant but a long journey from Plitvice Lakes National Park (another story and food later) we were starving and the hotel suggested we wander along Lungamare where there was a little restaurant that served local food. This was where we discovered Black Risotto with Squid. We found it so delicious we went back three days in succession for more of this fabulous dish.
Over the years this has been served to our friends many times. It turns out, the biggest lesson in perfecting the dish was from an Italian friend in Le Marche. In her wonderfully thick Italian accent, she hollered, “It’s risotto, not porridge!”, as she confiscated the wooden spoon. “You are stirring too much” she explained, “You must leave it and stir romanticamente [romantically]”. I blushed, as she continued, “You English are all stirring, stir stir, you are stir-a pazzo! Carezza, carezza un po,[caress just a little] and only then will risotto show the love!”
Black Risotto with Squid
Black Risotto is a popular Croatian seafood dish made with the addition of squid ink. More and more tourists are ordering this food all along Adriatic coast – from Istria to Dalmatia and Dubrovnik. Since the squid ink does not change the taste much (it tastes like seafood), you can omit it and eat the risotto without it – it is just as tasty.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 shallot
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- Pinch of chili flakes optional
- 400 g baby squid
- 1 l fish stock
- 175 gas Risotto Rice
- 75 ml dry white wine
- 2 medium tomatoes fresh or tinned, chopped
- 3 sachets of cuttlefish ink Available from Supermarkets
- Zest of 1 lemon finely grated
- 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat the oil and butter in a wide, fairly high-sided pan over medium heat.
Meanwhile, put the stock in a second pan and bring to a slow simmer.
Cook the shallots until soft, but not brown, then stir in the garlic and chili flakes, if using, and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the seafood to the shallot pan and stir to combine, then add the rice and season. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to coat with the fat until the edges of the grains of rice begin to turn translucent.
Turn up the heat slightly, then add the wine and tomatoes.
Cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, then stir in one of the sachets of ink.
When this is evenly distributed in the rice, begin stirring in the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, waiting until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid before adding more, and stirring regularly. How long this will take depends on how al dente or otherwise you like your rice, about 20 to 26 minutes usually does the trick Don't over stir - you are not making da-porridge.
When the rice is nearly done, stir in as much of the remaining ink as you need to give the dish color, then season to taste. Combine the lemon zest and parsley and sprinkle over the top to garnish
Serve, sit back and enjoy
If serving this as a starter / Appetiser just serve as is on fish plates. If serving as a main course, a nice fresh green salad works really well together with Simple Rustic Focaccia to mop up the wonderful sauce you have made.
Black Risotto with Squid, its fresh, its seafood, its Italian. It has to be Vivolo Pinot Grigio 2017. Taste this crisp and refreshing drop alongside a bland, mass-produced Italian Pinot Grigio and it seems like a different grape entirely. Fantastic with food, but utterly gorgeous all on its lonesome. Available from Naked Wines.