Culinary Adventures, Eats, Our Growing Edge, Recipes
Comments 36

Make Risotto


I go weak in the knees for smoked salmon risotto. If it’s on the menu at a restaurant, it is what I’m going to order. Still, I always did feel a little naive paying $20 for a rice dish.

After I ordered some Aoraki Hot Smoked Salmon from Naturally Organic, I figured it was finally time to attempt risotto.

I used the stainless steel sauté pan that Mum gave me and it was perfect for the job. You need something with decent sides but also plenty room for the rice to absorb liquid in. While it might be possible to use a skillet, you would have to be extra careful while stirring.

In hindsight, I could have added a little more stock at the end. While the rice was cooked, it absorbed even more liquid on standing. Some sources say to stop just before the rice is cooked.

Once upon a time, you could only get cold smoked salmon but now you can find both in equal abundance. I prefer hot smoked salmon but I will gladly eat both. Both can be eaten “as is” or gently heated.

What is the difference between hot and cold smoked salmon?

Just in case you were wondering what’s the difference between cold smoked salmon and hot smoked salmon, in terms of flavour and texture, cold smoked is salty and the texture is silky smooth and because it is a raw, it looks and and has a similar mouth-feel to sashimi. It is usually sold in pieces, off the bone and must be cut with scissors or a knife. Hot smoked salmon often has sweet notes, though is still savoury and because it is cooked, it can be flaked easily. It has the same mouth-feel* to baked or pan-seared salmon. Hot smoked salmon is sold whole, as whole fillets or in pieces and portions. It is easy to break up between your fingers or with a fork.

*mouth-feel refers to the textural feeling of something your mouth.

Tips for cooking risotto:

  1. Bring stock to the boil and then turn down to simmer for the duration of the cooking process. Using hot stock means the temperature of the risotto is maintained throughout cooking
  2. Add liquid – a ladleful up to 1 cup at a time. You are cooking by absorption, not boiling. Adding less stock each time towards the end
  3. Cook rice at the lowest setting – it should merely suggest the tiniest of bubbles, less than a simmering and no boiling
  4. No salt required when using smoked salmon, but you can brighten the flavours with more lemon juice, parmesan or black pepper
  5. Onions and garlic should be chopped very finely so that they do not affect the texture of the risotto
  6. Stir frequently, not constantly. Keeping the rice moving allows all the grains to abosorb the same amount of liquid
  7. If you are likely to get distracted, set a timer for <5 minutes per cup of stock
  8. Towards the end, keep tasting to check for doneness, risotto should be creamy but with a tiny bite in the centre of each grain
  9. Use a wooden spoon and a saute pan
  10. Never wash the rice, the starch makes the risotto creamy


Smoked Salmon Risotto
Recipe adapted from

Serves 4


  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, low sodium
  • 250 grams  (1/2lb) hot smoked salmon
  • 1/2 cup full cream
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (parmesan)
  • Lemon zest plus juice to serve
  • Coriander and black pepper


  1. In a small saucepan, heat the stock to boiling, then turn down to simmer for the duration of the cooking time. Using hot stock keeps the risotto temperature from fluctuating too much.
  2. Put a sauté pan or other walled frying pan to medium heat and add oil and onions. Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. Add rice and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the heated stock to the rice and turn the heat to the lowest setting. You don’t want to boil the rice, you want it to swell from absorbing the stock. No boiling, not even a simmer, barely even a bubble is fine. Stir rice occasionally, pushing rice from the sides for approximately 5 minutes until the stock has been absorbed. Keep adding the stock 1 cup at a time every 5 minutes or so until the rice is cooked, with a tiny bit of bite in the centre. The rice should taste cooked. Towards the end, add less stock at a time and let it absorb before adding more.
  4. While the risotto is cooking, gently flake apart the salmon, reserving a few nice looking pieces to top the risotto with later.
  5. Once the risotto is cooked, take off heat, add the flaked salmon, Parmigiano-Reggiano, cream and lemon zest. Leave for 5 minutes to settle, then taste and adjust seasoning if required. I found the salmon sufficiently salty.
  6. Serve with fresh coriander and a juicy wedge of lemon to squeeze.

Now that I can make this at home, I don’t know if I’ll still order it when I eat out. I have a tendency of ordering dishes I enjoy but do not cook at home.

Do you like risotto and do you order it when you eat out?



This post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to encourage us to try new food related things. Stacey from The Veggie Mama is the host for month’s event. If you have a blog and have cooked, eaten or experienced a new food this month, come and join this event.


  1. Nice looking risotto but I do tend to prefer mine a little wetter. I often do a similar dish at the restaurant with our own smoked salmon… It walks out the door!! 🙂

    • Hi Gray, yep, you’re right, I would make it wetter next time too. It was about right when I stopped cooking but after standing and mixing in the cheese and salmon, it absorbed even more liquid.

  2. That does look yummy! I’ve made risotto a handful of times, and it’s always come out tasty. Too bad the hubby doesn’t like the texture, hence why I haven’t made it that much.

    • Hi Ms Avocado 🙂

      Isn’t it funny how people are with texture? I love the texture of all rice dishes, but The Koala isn’t so keen. I wonder if it has to do with genetics or upbringing?

  3. I normally order pizza in Italian restaurant, but recently risotto is my new favourite. That smoked salmon risotto looks awesome, exactly what I’ve been craving for the past few days, you gave me an idea now 🙂

  4. Yum! I love risotto, and I’ll order it at restaurants because I know I probably can’t make a decent one at home. I’ve always been a bit intimidated to perfect it. But you make it sound a bit more achievable. Definitely something I want to tick off my “To do” list.

    • I have to admit, I’m not sure where risotto got such a scary reputation. Maybe it’s because the simplest things are the hardest to perfect. But you can do an ok job and then perfect it from there. I’ve only cooked it once, but I can see already what I’d tweak for next time and that could be addictive. Maybe that’s where the bad rep comes from.

      • Seconded – I was so very intimidated the first time I made risotto, but it’s really not hard at all!

  5. I love risotto but I’ve never made it. I don’t know why I’m so intimidated by it! And I’ll take smoked salmon hot or cold – I love it in all incarnations. This looks delicious, lady!

    • Thanks, I think it was all the stirring that frightened me. But it’s really not that intensive. If anything goes wrong, it’s fairly easy to correct. Too soupy, keep cooking, too dry, add more stock.

  6. We do tend to order risotto when we go out to eat. This does look very delicious though, it makes me want to attempt making it at home too…maybe one day…haha

    • Hey, if you both like to order risotto, it’s very worth making at home. The Koala would never order risotto so this was an indulgence aimed just for me.

  7. What a delicious dish. It’s hard to beat anything with smoked salmon (of either kind) but I especially love risotto and your photos make it look doubly mouth-watering!.
    Thank you so much for following my blog – I’ve admired yours from the day I found it (and pretty much the time I started blogging) so it means a huge amount that you consider mine worth following 🙂

  8. Looks awesome Genie! Risotto is one of my favourite dishes…it was actually the first thing I cooked that made me think, “gee, I’m kinda okay at cooking stuff! I should do this more often!”

  9. This looks so insanely good. Its way TMI but my mouth totally flooded with drool when I saw that last picture. Holy smokes…

  10. urbanfoodlover says

    Loved the recipe and thanks for sharing. And thanks for the explantion on hot and cold smoked salmon ..I must admit I really did not know these difference

  11. That looks fantastic! Bravo, Genie!

    I do risotto like how you did it: leaving the grains a little al dente. That being said, my co-teacher last semester was from Rome (and the chair of the Food Studies department to boot, so I guess he knows) and he says a proper risotto should actually be crunchy on this inside. That doesn’t sound good to eat, does it? Have you heard of that?

  12. Pingback: Make it yourself: sweet chilli sauce recipe - Down to Earth Mother

  13. Pingback: Our Growing Edge: the roundup - The Veggie Mama

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