Risotto can be made with any number of white-fleshed fish, but in Venice it's commonly made with red snapper. As with all risotto, the key is the quality of the stock, which is enriched here with the snapper bones. Another classic fish risotto, risotto di gò, utilises whole small lagoon fish and cooks them until they almost completely disintegrate. However, most foreigners, while appreciating the intense flavours of classic dishes like risotto di gò, don't understand how it can be a fish risotto without any visible fish in it. As such, I've done my best to please both the traditionalists and those who eat with their eyes, including seared snapper fillets so it not only looks more satisfying, but can also be served as a substantial main course.
1.5kg whole red snapper, filleted, bones chopped and washed and reserved for stock
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying fish
3 Tbs lemon juice
1.1L fish stock
80g finely diced French shallots
350g risotto rice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a deep pot, saute the red snapper bones and half the garlic in half the olive oil.
Add lemon juice and stock, bring to the boil. Lower heat and gently simmer for 45 minutes, skimming regularly. Strain, return to a clean pan and keep at a simmer on the stove top.
Cut snapper fillets into four 150g pieces, using a sharp knife score the skin at 1cm intervals.
Heat remaining olive oil in another saucepan over low heat for 1 minute. Add shallots and remaining garlic and cook gently for 4 minutes until they are translucent. Add rice and stir through, coating rice with oil, then cook over high heat for a further 2 minutes.
Add Prosecco, cook until wine has evaporated.
Slowly add the hot stock to the rice, one ladle at a time, stirring continuously for about 15-20 minutes. The rice will absorb the stock and form a creamy texture.
You will need to cook the snapper before the risotto is ready.
Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Season snapper on both sides and add to pan, skin side down. Gently press the top of each piece of fish with a spatula for 10 seconds, so the skin of the fish is flat against the base of pan – this will make skin crisp.
Cook fish for about 7 minutes on the skin side, turn over and cook again for a further 2 minutes depending on thickness. Set aside to rest for 1-2 minutes.
When risotto is ready, add butter and season. Cover and let risotto rest for 2 minutes, before stirring in the butter.
Divide the risotto among four serving plates and top with a snapper fillet.