This striking squid ink risotto recipe by Mark Hix uses spelt instead of rice, grains packed with protein which make a hearty and memorable starter dish. While the ink is used to give the spelt risotto its dramatic colour, the rest of the squid is fried lightly in butter and tossed with chopped herbs and sea aster (an easily foraged sea vegetable). Ask your fishmonger to prepare the squid for you to make this starter recipe even easier, or learn how to clean a squid yourself if you have time.
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Before cooking, place the spelt in a bowl and cover completely with cold water. Cover with a cloth and set aside, leaving to soak for 3 hours
200g of spelt, soaked in cold water for 3 hours
After this time, place a large pan over a low heat and add the rapeseed oil. Drain the soaked spelt, then add to the pan with the oil and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until the grains are lightly toasted
2 tbsp of rapeseed oil
Carefully burst the ink sac and measure out 50g of ink, discarding the rest or reserving for future use. Stir through the ink and add the fish stock a ladle at a time, allowing the liquid to fully be absorbed each time before adding any more
1 squid, cleaned and ink sac reserved
Meanwhile, cook the squid. Heat a heavy frying pan with the rest of the butter until foamy. Weigh out 150g of squid (the rest can be reserved for future use) and cut into chunks, then fry in the butter for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped herbs and sea aster and allow the sea aster to wilt, then remove from the heat and set aside, keeping warm until ready to serve
40g of butter
1 tbsp of parsley, chopped
1 tbsp of chervil, chopped
1 handful of sea aster
Once all the stock has been added and the spelt is tender and cooked through, stir in the butter and whisk lightly to incorporate. Test the consistency of the stock (it should be wet but not runny), adding a little extra stock to loosen if required
80g of butter
Divide the spelt risotto between plates, scattering over the cooked squid to serve
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