Squid Risotto, or how to be a snob

This is my favourite dish in the world. There, I've said it. And I claim bids on it, as I invented this one. You see, it is made with a certain species of Cephalopoda quite akin to normal squid, but slightly different, especially in taste, as the pota has a more pronounced flavour than the squid.

So being the fair creator of a dish that turned out to be so amazing, does make me rather snobish. Well, as a matter of fact, being a bit of a snob is part of my nature, so I'm not sure this risotto had really anything to do with it. Moving on, the idea for this came one day, many moons ago - two or three years ago, I believe - when we bought octopus (I'm also rather particular to it) because I was craving salad. One day I'll share my octupus salda here in the blog, when the price for that particular ingredient comes down and I can afford it again. Anyway, for the salad you need to boil the octopus previously, and after you do, you're left with this deep pink delicious broth that I can never bring myself to throw out. I just freeze it, and there's my fish stock when I need one.

And it was because of that octopus stock I was keeping in my freezer that I came up with this dish. Now, let's bare in mind that risotto is probably the thing I most love to cook. I first had a taste of it when I was in my early twenties and my sister was going through a 'domestic goddess' phase, and she decided to cook a risotto for dinner one particular night. Well, I was at that time dating this guy and had just been invited over to dinner at his dad's, and I could not refuse, I mean, meeting his father was such a big step, and I did not want to ruin things, no way, it was proof things were getting serious between us and what not - suffice to say I ended up marrying someone else, so I could have just stayed home and gobbled on that pea risotto, for all I know! I didn't get to eat it just fresh out of the pan, but I tried the tiny leftovers the next day and was flabbergasted!! (looove this word!)

I begged and begged my sister to cook me a risotto again, and she always refused, stating that the appropriate rice was hard to come by in POrtugal - this was twenty years ago, people, damn I feel old! - and that it was a dish so time consuming, what with standing over the stove constantly stirring the rice and adding the stock. So, many years went by before I tried my next risotto. It happened to be eaten in the company of my husband, when we were still dating. There was this Italian little resto of sorts where we used to go and have dinner sometimes, always going for the same old same old carbonaras and bologneses, and puttanescas. Mind you, they were pretty good, and all the pasta was fresh and handmade, but we were never adventurous enough to go for other stuff. Flash forward to one night when my husband asked for a dish I can't remember what it was and it was out, so he asked for the mushroom risotto. As it came, he asked me if I wanted to try it, I did, and it was all I could do not to get the dish from him and gobble it all down. We ended up spliting my puttanesca and his risotto between the two of us.

And yet, the rice for risotto was still something hard to come by. When we got married, I even bought a risotto cookbook, with plenty of interesting recipes, but I refused to cook it untill I could find a place where they sold the proper rice. See, this is where I get snobbish. I have come across plenty of recipes here in Portugal for risotto where one is told to use 'carolino' rice - a round grain portuguese type of rice, a bit more starchy than regular rice, but not in any way proper risotto material - instead of the common arborio or carnaroli, or the more elusive vialone nano and maratelli varieties. I always turn my nose at those recipes, because it does take a certain type of rice for the creaminess needed in a risotto to be perfect. I try to use carnaroli most times, as it is my favourite rice for risottos (there's a nuttiness to its flavour) but I also love arborio, and anyone telling you to use 'carolino' should not be allowed in a kitchen. That's snob point number one.

As for snob point number two, and this one does get on my nerves rather gratingly, it's the cooking method. Whenever I read, see, hear someone saying that to cook risotto you first fry up the raw rice in a soffritto and then pour the whole of the stock into the pan, cover with a lid and allow to cook, I want to beat them up with a wooden spoon. I am not Italian, nor italianated, nor any such thing, neither am I a specialist in Italian cuisine or gastronomy, but come on, people!! Risotto is that one dish that you infuse with love! Risotto needs its time, needs a steady, loving hand pouring laddle after laddle of good stock into the rice, stirring all the time, constantly, until all the liquid is absorbed before the next laddleful of stock is added! Risotto is love, and love cannot be rushed. Many people lack the patience to stand over the pan doing this, so they just add the whole stock and that's that. It is not as it is supposed to be done, and one cannot call that a proper risotto. As for me, I find it quite relaxing to stirr constantly, my mind wanders and I get a lot of ideas when I cook risottos, curds and custards - their methods are a bit similar, aren't they?

So as I said I had the idea for this risotto because, one: we buy 'potas' instead of squid, as it is way cheaper, and we always have a huge stock of them in the deep freezer, they keep well and are quite versatile; and two: I had all that octopus stock hiding away in the freezer, and thought suddenly 'Well, why don't I just use that stock to cook a squid risotto?' and so I did. Turned out pretty damn good, so I claimed it as my very own creation and I don't care if italians think I'm mad!! I eventually ended up tweaking the recipe a little, as I am not always in possession of endless amounts of octopus stock, so I did make a variation without that stock, and that is the recipe I am going to share here, but feel free to boil your own octupus and use the water from it as stock.

You'll need:

  • 1 litre of boiling water
  • 3 to 4 large squids or 'potas'
  • one cup carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 leek
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • fish sauce to taste
  • 1 dried chilli or chilli flakes
  • olive oil
  • parmigianno regiano or grana padanno cheese, just shaved
  • parsley, a bunch, chopped up fine

Start cleaning and dicing the squid, into bite size chunks. Boil the water in the kettle and then transfer to a cooking pan, place it over the stove but do not turn on the heat. Add the squid to this water, and allow to gently cook in it, with only the heat from the boiling of the water to aid in said cooking. Chop up your leek and your garlic and make your soffrito over a high heat, by frying the veggies with the chilli in a little olive oil, on aother pan, until they're tender, and then add the rice. Allow the rice to fry, coating it in the olive oil, and once it is slightly translucent, add the red wine, stirring together until it has evaporated completely. Turn down the heat and add a laddle of stock, with the squid in it. Keep stirring and allowing the liquid to evaporate, adding laddle after laddle of stock one at a time, whenever the liquid has dried out. Check the seasoning and adjust it with the fish sauce - I recently found out Romans used fish sauce as seasonig back in the day, so I am now cooking all my seafood risottos with fish sauce and being a snob about it! - or simply sea salt if you prefer it, and allow to cook. Once the rice is tender and there's no more liquid, add the shavings of cheese and the chopped parsley, let it rest for a couple of minutes, and serve with a good red wine - yes, I do pair squid with red wine, depending on the cooking method I've used with them, I found that if I use them in rice dishes and stews the red wine is perfect for them, if I grill or barbecue them, I prefer a white wine. And that's it, really, quite simple, but it does require a certain amount of patience. And loads of love!


  1. eu adoro risotto, é dos meus pratos favoritos! mas faço de cogumelos ou legumes :)

  2. Eu acho que nunca comi risotto. Aliás, farto-me de ver Masterchef e um dos pratos que eles falham sempre é risotto e então tenho a ideia de ser hiper mega difiicil de fazer. Mas pelos vistos não é. Acho que vou tentar isto qualquer dia.

    1. Aceito que em estando a participar num concurso daqueles, e com tempos limitados pra tudo, seja fácil lixar uma receita que na verdade é super básica. Eu acho até é que aquela malta se trama quando começa a inventar com os risottos - mas na verdade há pouca coisa que não combine com um risotto, por isso, devem ser nervos, mesmo. Faz.

  3. nunca fiz risotto porque acho que não me atrevo, mas este está simplesmente maravilhoso; e as fotos - lindas!!!!

    1. SInceramente, o terror do risotto é um mito gastronómico. Não digo que uma pessoa não se espete ao comprido a fazer um - uma vez enganei-me e em vez de adicionar whisky na parte do vinho, como queria, deitei-lhe com licor de frutos silvestres e acho que consegues imaginar o resultado... - de vez em quando, mas no geral acho um prato tão simples de fazer, e tão bom de enfardar... requer mesmo é pachorra de ficar agarrado ao tacho a mexer. E estas fotos são outras das quais me orgulho brutalmente, adorooooo-as eheheheh!


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