For most guys, when their girlfriends' birthdays roll around, they agonize about what to give. I agonize about what to cook. When the Significant Eater's birthday came up this week, I wanted to cook a meal that would wow both her and me yet would not be time consuming to make, so that I could minimize the time I spent in my kitchen preparing and cleaning up the meal.
The dish I decided upon was squid ink risotto, a dish that I had enjoyed many times at Bobby Flay's dearly departed Spanish restaurant Bolo. The combination of intensely briny squid ink and comforting, soft risotto is a beautiful contrast. Plus, the jet black risotto set on a white plate makes a very sexy and modern aesthetic.
My only concern about the dish is that it might be too complicated. I have cooked risotto several times before, and aside from the constant stirring, I find it to be a relatively simple preparation. However, cooking with squid ink just sounds disastrous, especially with my none-too-dexterous hands. I could not help but think of my apartment becoming a rendering of the Cream song "White Room," all from a squid ink risotto gone awry. Sixties psychedelia was definitely not the type of sexy I was going for with this meal.
Fortunately, squid ink is not anymore difficult than any other risotto. First, simmer some shrimp stock mixed with a few spoonfuls of squid ink. Then, saute some aromatics (minced onion and garlic are the best) in a sauce pan. Add the rice, and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add a glass of white wine to the pan and let it cook off. Then, add a ladle of the stock to just barely cover the rice and start stirring. Once the rice has absorbed all of the stock, add another ladle of stock and let the rice soak it up once again. Continue the process until the rice is perfectly soft, just slightly beyond al dente. Add the squid and cook for another few minutes. Stir in salt, pepper and parsley, to taste, and you have a wonderful dish of squid ink risotto.
Squid Ink Risotto
- 6 cups shrimp stock
- 2 tbsp squid ink
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 3/4 lb squid, cut into 1/4 inch rings (full tentacles are okay, too)
- 1/4 cup parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mix stock and squid ink in a large sauce pan. Heat over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent the squid ink from congealing (just stir vigorously if it does).
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the rice to the onion and garlic and stir to coat the rice with oil. Let the rice cook until it begins to pop, about two minutes.
- Ladle in enough shrimp stock to barely cover the rice. Adjust the heat to keep the stock at a simmer. Stirring constantly, let the rice absorb the stock. Once the rice has absorbed the stock, ladle in more stock to cover the rice again and continue to stir until the rice has absorbed the stock. Repeat the process until the rice is soft and creamy.
- Stir the squid into the rice and cook until the squid is cooked through, approximately 2 minutes.
- Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, topped with grilled, steamed, or sauteed seafood of your choosing.