from one generation to the next
I have a thrifty streak that afflicts me in the strangest way. It doesn’t drive me to hunt down bargains, compare prices or choose the cheapest option, but after I’ve handed over my money, I like to maximize my bang for buck.
My thrift drives to me to meticulously repackage green groceries into breathable plastic bags, transfer open packages of non perishables into airtight containers and to store meat and fish trimmings in the freezer.
A recent bowl of luscious risotto with seafood was based on 4 small frozen packages of trimmings, one of the belly end trimmings of several salmon fillets, one of calamari wings, another of white fish trimmings and a bag of prawn heads and shells. I bought a small amount of scallops and some extra prawns to add variety.
Don’t ever discard prawn heads and shells, they are bursting with flavour. Homemade seafood stock imbues risotto with the most wonderful taste of the sea, it’s quick to make and costs nothing.
We celebrated the coming of spring with a luxury low cost dinner.
Shells and head of 500g fresh green prawns
Fish scraps, skin, heads, skeletons
Spring onion greens
1 stick celery
1 small carrot
Cold water to cover
Rinse the prawn head and shells.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan.
When the oil is shimmering, add the prawn shells and fish scraps and fry until very well coloured. Add the water, vegetables and herbs.
Bring the pot to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve.
Seafood stock freezes well.
making the risotto
750mls of hot seafood stock
Good pinch of saffron stamens
1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil
1 1/2 cups canaroli rice
100mls dry white wine
2 small tomatoes finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup snipped chives
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g fresh green shelled prawns, digestive tracts removed
100g scallops with roe, digestive tracts removed
100g white fish trimmings, no skin
100g salmon trimmings, no skin
100g calamari wings, double peeled
Soak the saffron stamens for 10 minutes in 2 tablespoons of hot stock.
Heat the butter and and garlic oil then add the rice to the pan. Cook the rice until light golden.
Add the wine to the rice then stir continuously until it is absorbed.
Begin adding the hot stock one ladle full at a time. Stir the rice frequently and add more stock as it is needed.
While the rice is cooking, warm 1/2 cup of stock in a saute pan and poach the seafood until just cooked, 3- 4 minutes. Set aside.
When the rice has been cooking for 15 minutes, stir in the tomato and saffron.
Cook for a further 3-4 minutes adding a little extra stock as necessary.
Taste a rice grain for doneness. It should be firm but not chalky and the mixture should be loose, but not soupy. Continue cooking until you are happy with the consistency
Stir in the seafood, lemon juice and chopped herbs.
Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.