“oohhh, I am so looking forward to your Fathers Day dinner” said Danika, with a rather cheeky smile on her face. Yep, that is right folks, I cooked my own Fathers Day dinner, and was bloody happy about it. Not that Danika isn’t a good cook – far from it, she is awesome, but it is just me and cooking. I obviously love it (who the heck would have a food blog if they didn’t!!!). Cooking, above anything else relaxes me. If I have had a tough day at work, I am, it has been said, not that fun to be around until I get into the kitchen.
I wanted relaxed food. Nothing that was going to take two hours.. heck, nothing that was going to take an hour even. It is fathers day for goodness sake, I wanted to make enough time to hang out with Drakey too. Bless the little bloke.
I got thinking about risotto, and that I had cooked one in blooming ages. For me, no “special Matt day” would be complete without seafood. Come to think of it, it would be complete without a trip to Mutual Fish, for said seafood. So, off I trot.
Well. Mutual and a ton of stuff. As usual. Some great looking Copper River Salmon, but I actually wasn’t in the mood for salmon, and wasn’t sure about it in a risotto. I wanted a mix. A lovely mix of seafood. Mussels have always been a long term favorite with me. Here in Seattle they are dirt cheap as well – about $3/lb for the best Penn Cove has to offer. So, they were a definite. Mutual is the BEST place I have found in Seattle for mussels. Avoid Whole Foods and PCC. Avoid anyone that throws fish too. General rule of thumb They also had some great looking prawns there, so I snagged some of those. Now.. for a white fish….. hmm. Well, Monkfish tail would have been perfect, just perfect. Alas no monkfish tail. Bloody hell – they have Halibut cheeks! Job done. Job absolutely done.
OK – so a seafood risotto of halibut cheeks, prawns and mussels. Sounds like the perfect Fathers day dinner for me.
I am finding that saffron is just a complete pleasure with seafood – especially when you have a mix. It ain’t cheap, but a little goes a long way. Oh – top tip – get it at Trader Joes. Decent quality, with a low price tag.
So that is it really. It turned out to be a fantastic fathers day. Very mellow, hangng out with Danika and chasing the little lad Drake around.
And what was my fathers day present you ask? Well.. I guess Drake knows me rather well. It was the French Laundry cookbook, something I have had my eye on for a while. I have the awesome Bouchon book, and wanted the FL one too.
So – here it is. Happy, relaxed, informal, bloody good food. A simple seafood risotto.
Saffron seafood risotto – with halibut cheeks, mussels and prawns
4 halibut cheeks
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 medium yellow onion – diced
2 celery stalks – diced
1 clove of garlic – chopped
a good pinch of saffron
1 large glass of dry white wine
1 small glass of dry white wine
1 quart of fish or chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
1 small handful (total) of chopped fresh parsley and chives
Start by cleaning the mussels. Take one of those dish scratch pads, and clean all the crap off the outside of the shells. If the mussel has a beard sticking out of it’s shell, yank that off. Put the clean ones in a bowl, with a little ice to keep cold.
Put the halibut cheeks and prawns in a baking pan. Toss with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with some good sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. We are going to put these under the oven broiler to cook. They would be great on the grill, but impossible to keep an eye on, since the risotto needs a lot of attention. These won’t take long to cook – 6 minutes maybe, depending on your broiler.
Pour your stock into a saucepan, and put over a medium flame. We want to keep the stock hot. We are going to ladle this into the rice as it cooks. If it was cold, it would cool the rice down, and we would have to wait for it all to get back up to temperate.. A disaster.
In a large saute pan, get some olive oil hot. Gently saute the onions, celery and garlic until soft. Try not to add too much color to them. When soft, add in the rice and crank up the heat. Keep this moving. We are just slightly toasting the rice. Don’t let it get any strong color. This will take maybe a minute. Pour in the 1 large glass of white wine. Add the pinch of saffron. Just enjoy the smell
Keep stirring the rice. Once the wine has pretty much all be absorbed, add in a ladle of stock. Gently, oh so very gently, mix this around. Be gentle. Move the spoon slowly, almost teasing the starch out of the rice. When that ladle of stock has been absorbed, add another. Cary this on for at least 15 minutes. If you run out of stock, use some boiling water.
When the rice is starting to feel a bit softer, give it a taste. The perfect risotto still has some bite to it, but certainly isn’t undercooked. When the rice is done to your liking, turn off the heat from under it. Mix in the two tablespoons of butter (oh joy!). Cover the pan. We are going to just leave this alone to rest whilst we cook up the seafood.
Put the halibut and prawns under a medium/high broiler. Keep an eye on them. Flip them after a few minutes. They won’t take long to cook. The halibut is done when it flakes. The prawns are done when they are no longer translucent in the middle, and the outsides are pink.
To cook the mussels now. Take the ice out of the mussels and discard. In a medium saute pan, pour in the small glass of white wine, and get it boiling over a high heat. When it has reduced by half, toss in the mussels carefully, and cover the pan. These are going to take about 3 minutes to cook. After 3 minutes, peek in the pan to check them out. If they haven’t opened, put the lid back on, and give them a few.
When everything is done, mix the parsley and chives into the risotto. Spoon this into a deep plate, and top with all the lovely seafood. Save the biggest cheeks and prawns for yourself. You deserve it.