I spoke about this risotto in the third post I ever wrote on this blog, way back in January 2011. It really has been playing on my mind for a while.
When I was eight years old I went on a family holiday to Sicily. When moments are happening it is hard to know what is going to become a significant part of your history, and what will be forgotten as a distant memory. This holiday has definitely become part of my history.
We stayed in a little place called Taormina, in the shadow of Mount Etna. We saw ancient ruins, splashed in volcanic mountain streams, climbed acropolises, and ate incredibly well.
This salmon and pistachio risotto was apparently a regional speciality in Taormina, and I remember it blowing my tiny mind. I haven’t been able to find any recipes for it, and so this is my version, based on a twenty-year old memory.
2 salmon fillets (no skin)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large shallot, small onion or half a large onion, finely diced
300g Arborio rice (or other suitable risotto rice)
125 ml (small glass) relatively dry white wine – something that you would want to drink
1 litre hot chicken, fake chicken or vegetable stock
Approx 70g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
25 - 40g butter (risotto loves butter, but your arteries might not)
1 tbsp grated parmesan or similar hard cheese
Optional additions – green zingy herbs like lemon thyme or marjoram, lemon zest.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (with fan).
Put the salmon fillets on an oven tray, and drizzle with olive oil and season with a pinch of sea salt and a grind or two of black pepper. Roast for 12-15 minutes, until just cooked through (you can do this while the risotto is cooking).
In a large saucepan, fry the onion in a glug of olive oil slowly on a low heat until soft and translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the rice, and turn over in the onions until coated and glossy in the oil.
Add the wine to the pan and let it bubble for a few minutes, stirring all the time. Once the wine has bubbled to almost nothing, add the stock (I use fake chicken stock) a ladleful at a time, stirring and waiting for all the liquid to be incorporated before adding the next ladle.
This can take around 25-30 minutes. When all the liquid is incorporated, check that the rice is cooked through, but still with a bit of bite.
Flake the salmon (gently, so it doesn’t turn to mush) and add it to the rice, along with the chopped pistachios. Stir through the butter and parmesan, herbs if using, and season with salt and pepper.