Chicken, beef or vegetable stocks are commonly used for soups and risotto because they’re easy to find at the market and just as easy to make. But fish stock not only adds a deliciously unexpected flavor, it’s a more unusual choice for seafood risottos and chowders.
I make and use my own chicken stock all the time. I mean it’s so easy, why not. All you do is boil the chicken with some vegetables and seasonings and voila, you’ve not only got cooked chicken for a casserole or salad recipe, you’ve got several cups of chicken stock that you can freeze and save for a delicious soup or risotto.
The one thing I’ve never made before is fish stock. Usually when I make fish, I fry up a fillet or grill a nice salmon steak. There’s never a pot of water involved. So when I found a recipe for seafood risotto in Food & Wine magazine that called for fish stock, I had no idea what to do. But being the adventurous cook that I am, I figured now was as good a time as any to try and make it. Turns out, it’s just as easy to make as chicken stock. All you need are the fish bones, skins and heads, some water, and some seasonings. Where can you acquire those unusual cooking items? I got them at my local fish market for next to nothing. And let me tell you, the fish stock gave my shellfish risotto the perfect seafood flavor to make it something really special.
- 5 cups water
- 2 pounds fish heads and bones, rinsed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley stems
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 4 cups fish stock
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 dozen clams, scrubbed
- 1 dozen mussels, scrubbed
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 2 garlic cloves, mashed
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
For the stock
- Place all the ingredients in a large pot and cook over medium-high heat for 30 minutes. Strain the stock into a bowl and set aside. (The stock can be frozen for up to two months.)
For the risotto
- Heat the fish stock in a large pot. Add the clams and mussels, cover and cook over medium-high heat until all have opened, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams and mussels to a bowl and remove the meat from their shells. Strain the stock into a heat-proof measuring cup, wipe out the pot and return the stock to the pan. Add the saffron and let simmer for at least five minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about three minutes. Add the rice and cook for one minute.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the wine, stirring until absorbed. Add one cup of stock and continue stirring until absorbed. Continue adding the stock one cup at a time and stirring until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, clams and mussels and cook for another minute. Spoon risotto onto plates, sprinkle with parsley and serve.