We recently demonstrated this dish at The Kitchens, at Robina town centre on the Gold Coast. There’s lots of delicious fresh produce in the centre, so we couldn’t help but share one of our favourite seafood dishes with all the locals.

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One of the biggest lessons that we can learn from authentic Italian cooking is to cook risotto wet. It should be the texture of a thick soup, so that when you serve it on a plate (NOT a bowl) you can tap it on the bench top, and the whole mix should spread flat on the plate. Most people outside of Italy cook it too long and too dry – no one wants a thick squishy plate of gloop! You want the rice to be cooked al dente, so there’s just a little bit of bite to each granule of rice. The best rice to use is carnaroli – it holds its shape much better than Arborio.

Pangrattato simply means crispy fried breadcrumbs. Although its not a traditional topping for risotto, I just love the crunchy texture it adds to this dish.

Sammy and Bella’s Salmon and Fennel Risotto with Lemon Dill Pangrattato

Serves 4 as a main

For the risotto:

  • ½ bulb of fennel, fronds and bulb finely chopped
  • 2 small eschallots (small purple onions), finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 200g carnaroli rice
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1 litre seafood stock, kept warm
  • 500g salmon, skinless and boneless, cut into bite sized cubes
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 150g crème fraiche
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • salt and pepper

for the pangrattato:

  • ½ cup coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • zest 1 small lemon
  • 1/2 bunch dill, chopped finely
  1. For the risotto, finely chop fennel bulb and fronds, celery and eschallot. Add to a stock pot along with butter on medium heat and cook until soft and translucent but not caramelised. Add rice, and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until the rice becomes pearlescent. Deglaze with white wine, and once alcohol has evaporated begin to add the hot seafood stock, a ladle full at a time while stirring constantly. Ensure that the liquid has been absorbed before you add more stock. If you need to, add hot water towards the end of cooking to loosen the texture.
  2. When the rice is 80% cooked through, add the diced salmon and asparagus and continue to cook, stirring gently, until the salmon is just cooked through. Remove from heat, stir in crème fraiche and frozen peas, and season to taste. Note that the texture should be very wet, almost like a thick soup.
  3. For the pangrattato, place breadcrumbs, garlic and extra virgin olive oil in a non stick fry pan on medium and cook until crunchy and well toasted. Remove from heat and let cool before stirring in lemon zest and chopped dill.
  4. Serve the risotto on a wide plate, tap the plate on the bench so that the wet risotto gently spreads evenly across the plate. Sprinkle with the pangrattato.