I can’t stop raving about Lisbon. Because I was there on such a short timespan, I had experienced some serious FOMO on my last evening. I ended up at the Time Out Market and it’s this beautiful food hall with an array of different food options from traditional Portuguese to ceviche to natas. At the end of the hall, there is an area dedicated to famous Portuguese celebrity chefs. Of course I had to try them all.
My favourite meal of the bunch (and in all of my Portugal trip) was by Alexandre Silva and I can remember it so vividly. I was back and forth deciding on whether or not I should get this particular dish. It was a squid ink risotto with wakame and seared scallops. I knew the minute I arrived back to Canada I had to somehow recreate it.
It’s been just over a month since I had left Lisbon and I finally decided to be brave and try making the dish. I loved the dish so much in Lisbon that I demanded to speak with the chef on shift and asked what type of cheese was in it - that is what really set it apart. Of course, it was a special cheese that can only be found on Azores Island in Portugal. OF COURSE. I think the taste is quite strong. I want to say it is similar to that of oka.
My version was similar. Too bad I didn’t have oka. I used one of my favourite local cheeses here from the Okanagan called goatgonzola from Carmelli’s in Kelowna. It’s a very strong bleu cheese which can stand up to the briny squid ink and lend another dimension to the dish overall. The sweet and nutty umaminess from the wakame seems to bring it all together.
Don’t let the unfamiliar ingredient of squid ink scare you off. It’s such a great and fun ingredient to work with! Also, red wine in risotto? Why not? Get a couple extra brownie points to impress with this dish.
SQUID INK RISOTTO with WAKAME & SEARED SCALLOPS - serves 4-6
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp squid ink
8 cups dashi
2/3 cup goat gorgonzola, grated
4 tbsp parmeggiano reggiano, grated
Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until melted and add the onions and garlic until softened and translucent. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat and bring the dashi to a boil. Turn down the heat to low so that a rolling boil is maintained.
Add in the arborio rice and saute until it becomes opaque.
Add in the dry red wine and stir until it is fully absorbed. Once absorbed, stir in the squid ink and mix until all of the rice is coated black.
Gradually ladle in some dashi to the rice mixture. Ensure that you are constantly stirring or else you risk the rice sticking to the pot. Keep continuing on with this until the rice is fully cooked.
Once the rice is cooked, remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Serve with wakame and seared scallops.
Serve with wakame and seared scallops.