There's nothing better than a summer meal that uses just picked ingredients from my garden paired with fresh seafood. Since lobster and squid were both on sale at my local grocery store, I decided to make a meal representative of Croatian Mediterranean cooking, which is influenced by Greek, Italian and French cuisine. It was a wonderful, simple, meal we all enjoyed immensely.
Croatian cuisine is heterogeneous, and is therefore known as "the cuisine of regions". Its modern roots date back to Proto-Slavic and ancient periods and the differences in the selection of foodstuffs and forms of cooking are most notable between those on the mainland and those in coastal regions. Mainland cuisine is more characterized by the earlier Proto-Slavic and the more recent contacts with the more famous gastronomic orders of today - Hungarian, Viennese and Turkish - while the coastal region bears the influences of the Greek, Roman and Illyrian, as well as of the later Mediterranean cuisine - Italian and French.http://www.croatiaemb.net/general.html
Ethnic fighting in the western Balkans (in the 1990s) brought havoc to Croatia; historic cities and towns like (Dubrovnik and Zadar) were devastated; and even temporarily abandoned. Slowly, as the country rebuilds, tourism has begun to pick up and proud Croatian's are returning to their lives before war.
Croatia is a beautiful land, with a jagged coastline (the Dalmatian), one dotted with dozens of islands. Inland, the lower mountains and hills of the Dinaric Alps slice through the country.
|Cleaned, ink removed and reserved|
|Cut up into rings|
|Heat seafood stock and keep at a low simmer|
|Sauté onions and garlic, then add tomatoes, parsley and squid|
|The recipe didn't call for it....but...butter makes EVERYTHING better|
|Reserved squid ink - the deepest shade of black imaginable!|
|Ummmmm....new shell lobsters|
|Add squid ink when risotto is just about done|
|My own micro greens and cherry tomatoes: packet of seeds cost me $1.00 & we'll have them all summer|
|The meal: black risotto with squid, lobster and micro green salad|
Black risotto is a very popular and delicious dish served along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. This is a highly prized and unusual dish coloured and flavoured with squid or cuttle fish ink. If you are looking for a recipe to impress seafood-loving guests, this is definitely one to try. Risotto Negro is a specialty of the Veneto region, made with cuttlefish cooked with their ink-sacs. Dalmatia was part of the old Venician state.
2 1/2 pounds cuttlefish or squid/calamari (fresh is best)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 small tomato, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 tablespoon olive oil (for rice)
lemon slices for garnish
parsley for garnish
How to make Crni Rizoto (Black Risotto)
Wash the cuttlefish under running water. Pat dry. Remove the dark outer skin and
cartilage from the cuttlefish. Next, very carefully, take out the ink sac and reserve for later use. Cut the cuttlefish into small pieces.
Heat a large, deep skillet with the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic.
When soft, add the cuttlefish and parsley. Salt and add the pepper and tomatoes. Stir to mix and then add some water or fish stock to the skillet and sauté until the cuttlefish becomes partially tender. At the same time, bring water or fish broth, that you will be using to cook the rice to a simmering boil in a separate saucepan.
Rinse the rice, and then add it to the skillet along with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Stir to coat the rice in oil and skillet juices and sauté for about 1 to 2 minutes. Then add the simmering water or fish broth 1/2-cup at a time, stir until the rice absorbs the liquid and wipes the sides of the pot as you stir. When the rice dries out, add another 1/2 cup of the simmering liquid (reduce the additions of liquid to 1/4 cup after 20 minutes) and continue to stir-cook. Remember to stir well and always loosen the rice from the bottom of the pot so that it doesn't stick. Never drown the rice in the liquid, since risotto is not boiled rice. It will take the risotto about 25 to 30 minutes to cook if you are using arborio rice. The rice when done will be tender but al dente, or firm to the bite.
Close to the end of the cooking time and before removing the rice from heat, add the contents of the ink sac to the risotto. Stir to mix well. Remove from heat and place on serving platter. Garnish by surrounding with sliced lemons and sprinkling additional parsley if so desired.
Final Assessment: I loved this risotto! I make it a lot, but have never used fresh squid and ink. The lobsters, stand alone, I can't take credit for anything except buying them and popping them into a pot of boiling water. As for the greens, they were sweet, savory and spicy - a very nice way to offset the richness of the risotto and lobster. A+