This risotto is a Venetian classic and is a stunning dish to behold. It owes its identity to the good old squid, or specifically, to the squid ink itself. I hate to sound like my father in law, but in the (good?) old days, it was ink from the cuttlefish that was used for this dish.
The cooking of the dish itself is pretty straightforward, just like so many other risotto recipes. So, as usual, if you are new or fairly new to cooking risotto, head on over to the Basic Risotto post. It’s full of everything you need, to master the art of cooking risotto.
On the basic risotto post, we talk about:
- the history of risotto
- risotto rice
- risotto stock
- risotto science (!)
- fat for risotto
- stirring or no stirring
- mantecatura – the art of creaming with the addition of fat (butter, olive oil, cheese), how we finish cooking risotto
In other words, everything you ever wanted to know about risotto. But were too afraid to ask!
Where to get Squid Ink? (Or Cuttlefish Ink)
Here in the UK, squid ink is not always the easiest thing to find fresh. Fresh cuttlefish ink is even more elusive. In these days of prepacked everything, the word fresh doesn’t quite have the same meaning anymore.
I remember the days when all fresh squid came with their ink sacs intact. Now I really sound like my father in law!
Next best thing? Get the stuff online, in a jar. The image above shows you what I use, whatever the recipe. There are many online stores selling both cuttlefish and squid ink. I get mine from Amazon.
So how do we cook Risotto Nero
Most people add the squid or cuttlefish to the rice; this is also the traditional method.
However, call me a rule breaker, I much prefer to cook the squid separately, flash frying it with garlic and lots of pepper and serving it on top of the risotto, for contrast.
I happen to have black lava salt on hand, that gave the squid a lovely touch of black here and there. Regular salt will do. I love black lava salt on glass rims when making cocktails and mocktails, like in this halloween recipe, Bloody Margarita:
So this is how we will be cooking Risotto Nero
- Prepare the squid (clean and cut, and save the ink, if applicable).
- Start with frying the onion and garlic.
- Add the rice.
- Add the wine (if using) and the ink.
- Add the stock bit by bit until the rice is done (about 15 minutes).
- Fry the squid (3-5 minutes).
Mantecatura in this recipe: you’ll notice that I’m not using any butter at all, as is traditional. And definitely no cheese. Italians frown at cheese being added to seafood. More than frown. Their hands will start gesturing and flying all over the place.
However, if you do want to finish the recipe off with a little butter, by all means. Just 2 tablespoons will do.
Seafood and Cheese in Italian Cooking
Is a big no-no, for purists.
- Traditionally, the dairy producing areas are nowhere near the coastal fishing areas, and so never the twain did meet. Seafood was cooked with olive oil, with no hint of butter or cheese anywhere. And so it became gospel.
- Italians also insist that cheese will overpower the delicate and subtle flavours of seafood.
But as more and more younger Italian chefs and foodies emerge, that old rule is being bent in all different directions. To each his own, you experiment and let me know what you think.
Black Risotto makes a great Halloween Recipe!
Can’t find fresh squid?
Then use raw, frozen squid. Not precooked. Just be sure to defrost it fully.
Because for the love of Neptune, please do not ever, EVER use shop bought, precooked seafood!
Except for lobsters and crabs. They tend to hold their flavour amazingly after being cooked. Even when they are cooked and frozen. This is especially true with lobsters. But that’s a story for another day!
Oh, why am I using squid, and not cuttlefish? Because it’s easier to find and cooks much quicker!
Stock for Squid Ink Risotto
You can use either fish or seafood stock, just make sure it’s of good quality. Stock cubes and stockpots are great for home use.
If you fancy making your own, it’s a very quick process. I have a recipe post and a video on it. Click here for the recipe. Or watch the video below.
That’s it. Not a whole lot to think about in this recipe, apart from the squid/cuttlefish and the ink.
If you can get fresh ink, just follow the instructions on the recipe card below on how to prepare it. A little messy but super easy! If you have any questions, just drop me a line.
Shall we get our aprons on?
♥ If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! 😉 Thank you! ♥
And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood.
More Risotto Recipes on the Risotto Masterclass page
Risotto Nero (Squid Ink Risotto, a Venetian Recipe)
- 1.5 litres (6 cups) fish or seafood stock
- 3 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 1 small clove garlic
- 350 g (1 3/4) cups Vialone Nano rice, or any risotto rice you can get
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine skip if you don’t do alcohol
- 2 Tbsp squid ink if your squid doesn’t come with ink sacs
- salt as needed
- freshly ground black pepper
- 500 g (1.1 lb) squid (with ink sacs or not, see above)
- 2 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- lots of freshly ground black pepper
- dash of red chilli flakes if you fancy (purely optional)
- 1 Tbsp EV olive oil
- small handful fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped
Let’s prepare the Squid (and ink, if it’s there)
- Go straight to step 4 if your squid has already been cleaned.
- Pull out the head and tentacles.
- Very gently, pull away the long, thin, silvery ink sac,being careful not to pierce it with your nail.
- Discard the yellow part by pulling it off gently. Set aside in a ceramic bowl. If it leaks, the ink will stain plastic, so glass and ceramic bowls are best.
- Squeeze the base of the tentacles to get rid of the mouth and beak.
- Cut the 2 long tentacles, then chop into bite-sized lengths.
- Pull out the translucent quill from the body and discard.
- Pull away the pinky skin and discard.
- Slice into rings, and rinse everything well.
The Ink Sacs
- Place the ink sacs in a metal sieve over a bowl, and with the back of a spoon, squash down to release the ink.
- Pour over 2-3 tablespoons of your stock to “rinse” the sacs and leave to drain for a few minutes while you get on with other prep work.
Cooking the Risotto Nero
- Place your stock, or water plus stockpots on high heat. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat down and leave it to simmer happily.
- While waiting for the stock, chop the onion and garlic up finely, for the rice and the squid. Set the garlic for the squid aside.
- Heat the olive oil for the rice on low heat and sauté the onion for 2 minutes, stirring.
- Add the garlic, and fry for 1 minute.
- Add the rice and coat with all that fat, stirring well. Toast the rice for 3 more minutes, until the edges turn translucent.
- Increase the heat to medium and pour in the wine. Stir well and leave to evaporate, stirring a little. Skip this step, if you don’t do alcohol.
- Stir in the ink, coating the rice well, for about half a minute.
- Add 1 cup of the simmering stock and stir gently. You can take a break, it doesn’t need to be round and round stirring constantly, just regular stirring while the stock evaporates.
- When the stock has evaporated, add half a cup more of the stock, stir, and repeat this process for 13 minutes. Yes, watch the clock or put your kitchen timer on.
- Check the rice at the 13-minute mark. It should be just about done, depending on your rice, and the heat. Is it cooked – soft on the outside with just a bite in the middle? Is the risotto looking creamy, like a thick version of (black) rice pudding? If it is, it’s done. If it’s not, add 1/4 cup stock, and stir. When that stock has been absorbed, check again. You shouldn’t really need to cook more than 15-17 minutes. The time depends on your rice and what your idea of medium heat is!
- Then check the seasoning – does it need salt? Add some if you think it does, and stir it in.
- Finally, the mantecatura. I’m only using olive oil. Drizzle oil all over and stir quickly and vigorously to create a creamy texture.
- Take off the heat, cover and leave to rest for 2 minutes, then serve up with the parsley and squid, in individual plates.
Let’s cook the Squid
- With about 5 minutes to go before the end of the risotto cooking, we’ll get the squid going. You can just do this when the risotto has had 10 minutes, or if you don’t like multitasking, do it when the risotto is resting.
- Heat the rest of the olive oil on medium-high heat and cook the garlic for 10 seconds.
- Tip in the rinsed and cut squid, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir to coat. Increase the heat to high, keep stirring or tossing the squid to cook and char slightly. You’ll only need to cook for about 3 minutes and the squid will be done. Take off the heat and serve on top of the individual risotto dishes, sprinkled with the chopped parsley and chilli flakes (if using).