We’ve all heard about the “Risotto al Nero Di Seppia” or better known in English Speaking Countries “squid ink risotto” at some point. Black rice exists, like “Riso Venere” for example, but here the black is darker, it almost looks like what you got some ink on it.
So what is cuttlefish ink? Well, it’s a very dark liquid, which not surprisingly many people also call ink.
We are talking about the contents that the cuttlefish keeps in a small bag, the “weapon” with which the animal defends itself against predators by expelling it and disappearing inside this dark cloud, a bit like the magicians of the past did with smoke.
Well, this amazing ingredient is really perfect for some dishes. One of them, as we were saying just now, is the squid ink risotto.
Squid Ink Risotto is an ancient recipe, one of the most typical and well known in Italy along with the Venetian risotto.
It’s a dish that I love, but it’s not so easy to find it at the restaurant, usually in fact in the Menu is more obvious to find the classic Seafood Risotto that I like, but i usually prefer to prepare it at home.
Squid Ink Risotto… How to Properly Make It!!
Squid ink risotto is easy to prepare but there are some pitfalls that could ruin the dish. Here is the recipe and the tricks not to make mistakes.
Squid Ink Risotto is a very characteristic fish main course. If we look at the “bon ton”, it is an “uncomfortable” preparation because, while eating it, the teeth could be covered in black. According to etiquette, you should not serve dishes that could embarrass your guests. I therefore advise against preparing risotto with cuttlefish ink on the occasion of formal lunches or dinners or romantic dinners.
Having said that, I must say that this risotto is one of my favourites and, if you prepare it exactly following this recipe, you will love it.
This is a dish that requires a bit of extra care in the preparation. If you are in a hurry i suggest to leave it for other occasions when you have more time available.
Important Tips for making Squid Ink Risotto.
There are two strict rules (which unfortunately I hardly ever find reported in the various food blogs that I read) that you can not deviate from, or else the dish will fail, here they are:
The cuttlefish, cut into small pieces, must cook very briefly, 3-4 minutes at most. Otherwise they acquire a consistency that oscillates between hard and rubbery. For this reason, once you have scalded the cuttlefish, you will have to take them out of the pot and put them aside (they must be covered to preserve humidity) until the moment they are cooked.
The cuttlefish black ink should only be added during the last 3 minutes of cooking the risotto. If you add it earlier, it loses its characteristic flavour. Moreover, as you will know if you have already had the opportunity to handle it, the ink contained in the bag is usually very thick. To use it, you’ll have to dilute it with half a cup of broth until it becomes liquid.
In addition to the above, there would be one last “rule”, less strict, that discourages the use of cheese with fish dishes. Personally, I almost always respect this custom (as my Italian Tradition Commands). The “mantecatura” of risotto, if you do not use cheese or butter, can however be unsatisfactory unless you use some tricks.
The most common involves the use of a small potato, finely grated, added at the beginning of the preparation of the risotto. The potato gives the dish a fuller taste and makes the risotto very creamy even without the addition of fat. This trick goes well with fish risotto as it allows you to enhance the flavor without overpowering it with a cheese aftertaste.
How to prepare cuttlefish black risotto
Cooking 15 minutes
Calories 650 kcal
– 200 g rice
– 750 ml fish cartoon (or vegetable stock)
– ½ glass white wine
– 1-2 fresh cuttlefish (medium size)
– 2-3 garlic cloves
– ½ potato (small)
– extra virgin olive oil q.b.
– salt to taste
1. Clean the cuttlefish by removing the bone and removing skin, eyes, beak and entrails. Put the black bag aside, taking care not to break it. I usually wrap, around a toothpick, “the little tube” connected to the bag and place it in a small cup with a little water inside (so as not to dry the bag).
Separate the cuttlefish bag from the tentacles. The bag should be cut into squares while the tentacles should be left whole and, if they are not very small cuttlefish, divided in two by two.
Prepare an emulsion with oil, squeezed garlic and parsley and set it aside.
Grate finely, with a citrus fruit grater, half a small potato.
Cut the cloves of garlic in half and fry them in a saucepan (or wok) for a few minutes. Add the cuttlefish and blanch over high heat for about 3 minutes. Then remove them from the pan and set them aside (blankets to prevent them from drying out).
Pour the rice into the saucepan where the cuttlefish have been cooked and toast it for a few minutes over high heat. Then smoke with the white wine.
Add 2 tablespoons of grated potato and cook the risotto adding boiling broth as needed.
Break the bag of cuttlefish black inside a coffee cup and let out the contents (it is a thick liquid). Then dilute it with a few tablespoons of broth and stir until everything is liquid.
Three or four minutes before the end of cooking the risotto pour the ink into the risotto and stir. When the risotto is cooked, stir vigorously.
Add the cuttlefish pieces previously set aside and sprinkle with the emulsion of oil, garlic and parsley.
Common Problems FAQ
Why were the cuttlefish hard and/or rubbery?
Because you probably overcooked them. Next time don’t cook them longer than 3-4 minutes and/or freeze them beforehand. Once thawed and cooked, the cuttlefish will be more tender.
The bag of cuttlefish black was so small, is that normal?
The size of the bag is variable and does not depend on the freshness of the shellfish.
How come the black had a grainy texture?
Because the cuttlefish probably wasn’t very fresh.
How come the taste of cuttlefish was not very fresh compared to the risotto I ate in the restaurant?
Because black should only be added at the end of the risotto’s cooking. About 3 minutes before the end of cooking phase.
Does the Squid Ink Risotto have parmesan or cheese?
It is not forbidden but it is much better not to use it. To avoid it, just use a small potato. Read the recipe well to see how.
I am lactose intolerant, can I prepare this dish without using butter or cheese?
Sure, just use the potato as It’s clearly explained in my recipe.
Can I use ready-made squid ink and thawed cuttlefish?
Of course, the risotto will not be like the one prepared with fresh cuttlefish but if you follow the recipe you will still get a great result. On the other hand, thawed cuttlefish are easier to keep soft.
Where can I buy the squid ink ready?
In a fish market or supermarket. It is usually sold in jars in the refrigerator (they usually put it next to pickled shrimps) or in sachets.
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