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:
- 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
- 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
- Cook rice at the lowest setting – it should merely suggest the tiniest of bubbles, less than a simmering and no boiling
- No salt required when using smoked salmon, but you can brighten the flavours with more lemon juice, parmesan or black pepper
- Onions and garlic should be chopped very finely so that they do not affect the texture of the risotto
- Stir frequently, not constantly. Keeping the rice moving allows all the grains to abosorb the same amount of liquid
- If you are likely to get distracted, set a timer for <5 minutes per cup of stock
- Towards the end, keep tasting to check for doneness, risotto should be creamy but with a tiny bite in the centre of each grain
- Use a wooden spoon and a saute pan
- Never wash the rice, the starch makes the risotto creamy
Smoked Salmon Risotto
Recipe adapted from www.BBCGoodFood.com
- 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
- 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.
- Put a sauté pan or other walled frying pan to medium heat and add oil and onions. Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
- 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.
- While the risotto is cooking, gently flake apart the salmon, reserving a few nice looking pieces to top the risotto with later.
- 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.
- 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.