Lemon/Pea/Asparagus Risotto with Smoked Sea Bream
Updated: May 23
A well prepared risotto is one of the tastiest and most satisfying dishes to cook and can be enjoyed any time of the year with various seasonal veggies and other delicious additions . . . such as the top quality smoked sea bream or sea bass that I used.
I developed this recipe while working on a smoked fish food project for the Pytheas company here in Greece and so far, everybody who has tasted this dish . . . loves it! Hope you will too.
As always, I recommend you prep everything you need before starting the cooking. The veggies and lemon peel and flesh can be prepped well ahead of time and kept covered with plastic wrap in the fridge until needed. Also, if you must, the risotto can be re-heated in the microwave but it’s always best freshly prepared!
80 gr Smoked Sea Bream (Tsipoura) or Smoked Sea Bass (Lavraki)
135g (about 1 cup) green peas
150 g green asparagus, or to taste (ends cut or snapped off)
1 - 2 large organic lemons, peel and flesh
800 ml chicken or vegetable stock 25g unsalted butter 1 tblsp olive oil 1 onion, (¼ cup) grated or finely chopped
1/2 - 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped (optional)
175g risotto rice 50g finely grated Parmesan cheese 1 tblsp finely sliced fresh mint, or to taste
Lemon zest, to taste
Black ground pepper, to taste
Salt, if needed
Start by blanching the peas and asparagus, separately, in in large pot or skillet with boiling water until cooked al dente! Once both veggies are blanched, drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again, and set aside until needed when cooking the risotto.
Remove peel from lemons, either with a sharp knife or with a standard vegetable peeler. A good peeler should leave most of the pith behind, but if you are using a regular knife try to avoid as much pith as possible as it’s bitter! Once you’ve removed the peel, slice lemon rind into thin strips and place in cup or oven proof container and cover with water. Cover with plastic foil and cook in microwave for 3 – 4 minutes. Once cooked, remove from microwave and set aside; leaving the peel in the water. NB: You can, of course, cook the peel in hot water, in a small casserole on top of your stove.
While the peel is cooking, cut lemon into wedges and remove white veins and seeds. Chop flesh and set aside. You should have at least one heaped tblsp of lemon flesh.
Now, bring the chicken broth to simmer in small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep broth hot.
In heavy large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter, add the olive oil and mix. Add chopped onion, garlic (optional) and rice and allow the rice to lightly fry, while stirring it to avoid it sticking to the bottom of your pan. When the rice looks translucent add a ladle of stock and keep stirring. Continue cooking and stirring the rice until it’s tender but slightly firm in the center; allowing each ladle of stock to be absorbed before adding the next one. This will take about 15 – 20 minutes! Should you run out of stock before rice is cooked, just add a little boiling water.
Once the rice is cooked and you have a creamy mixture, add the peas and lemon flesh and stir. Add the asparagus, partially sliced with a few larger pieces with tips and stir very carefully. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Stir in the chopped mint, a little lemon zest and season with salt* and ground pepper, to taste. Last but not least place lid on pot and allow to sit a few minutes.
While risotto is resting, place fish fillet in oven/microwave proof dish. Pour over the liquid from blanched lemons and cover with wet kitchen paper. Place in microwave oven for one to two minutes. (See tips below for other options!)
Pour risotto onto one large serving plate or two individual plates, top with smoked fish fillet and cooked lemon strips.
Check the seasoning carefully to allow for the salt* within the smoked fish. Personally, I don’t add any salt to the dish as the salt in the stock, cheese and smoked fish is sufficient. Instead, I’m quite generous when it comes to the ground pepper!
When using the lemon rind and zest, always use organic lemons, where available.
I don't use garlic in the recipe as I think it takes away from the real taste of the risotto & smoked fish . . but I leave it up to you to decide!
Many risotto recipes add a cup of white wine to the rice before adding the stock but here again, I don't think it's needed! If you like though . . . add to recipe!
Many people add some extra butter (about 25g) to the risotto at the end with the parmesan cheese. Personally I don’t think it's needed; especially if you have cooked the rice correctly and it has a creamy consistency. However, if you like, just add a little to please your taste buds!
The smoked sea bream or bass doesn’t need to be pre-cooked for this dish. You can place it directly (at room temperature) on top of the warm risotto. However if you like, as I do, you can either cook it a bit as per recipe in microwave, or in a medium hot oven, very lightly oiled, for about 5 – 7 minutes or until the fish flakes separate when pressed down lightly. Once you have flakes, you can easily separate them and incorporate them into the risotto, instead of serving it on top of risotto . . . as per photo.
This risotto is also delicious simply made with the lemon flesh/peel and green peas only + Parmesan cheese.
If you don’t like smoked fish, enjoy the risotto on it's own or try it with steamed fresh salmon.
©KaritasM – May 2021