Moorish Seafood Risotto w/ Freekeh

This dish is all about locking in those deep, rich flavours into the freekeh Risotto. The beautiful aromas are sure to conjure up a profusion of sea and spice,  sure to make your neighbours green with envy…

Although risotto is classically Italian and kind of sanctified, I think this ‘Moorish’ freekeh take on the old classic gives it a lot of soul. Fresh clams and langoustines are pleasing to the eye and the hearty flavour of the risotto comes as a pleasant surprise. As long as you are using the freshest seafood, feel free play around with other varieties.

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Ingredients (Serves 4)

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Method

  1. Soak 2 cups of Freekeh overnight in 4 cups of water
  2. Wash your clams and devein the baby crayfish tails. Scrub clams with a small brush in a stainless steel bowl full of fresh water. Make sure, you’ve rinsed your seafood properly, then cover it with a cotton cloth and put it into the fridge, while you turn your focus towards the next task. Instead of preparing fresh octopus, I like to buy the pickled version, which Fish4Africa does fresh every week. All I do is add some olive oil, extra garlic, salt and finely chopped parsley.
  3. Prepare your mirepoix, which is the flavour basis for every classic risotto: Finely chopped carrots, celery and onion and set aside. 
  4. Prepare your fish stock by adding a variety of 2 fresh fish heads, bones and tails (e.g hake, angelfish or kingklip) into about 1 L of sea salted water. Add a good handful of celery greens, as well as all your vegetable off cuts. Simmer your stock for about 45 minutes. It is so much more convenient to buy ready made fish stock, but if you have never cooked a fish stock from scratch before, I can just tell you that it is absolutely heavenly and fun to add another piece of vegetable here and there. It wraps your kitchen in a heavenly Mediterranean mist of deliciousness. 
  5. After about 30 minutes start to drizzle some of the olive oil over your slices of sweet red peppers, a pinch of sea salt and roast in the oven by maximum heat until they start to darken.
  6. While your fish stock simmers and your peppers are roasting, fry your mirepoix gently over low heat in olive oil until glossy, then add freekeh and stir to combine the flavours. Increase heat and deglaze with organic white wine. Once all wine has almost fully evaporated add turmeric, pimento, tomato paste and a bit of sea salt.
  7. Now gently keep on stirring your risotto by adding a cup of your fish stock. Every time your stock has fully evaporated, add another cup until your freekeh has reached the desired degree of softness. I prefer mine al dente but you can go softer if you like. All that matters is that you don’t lose your patience. Trust me, it’s worth the while. Taste the freekeh in between and be careful not to add too much salt. Add sugar to combat the acidity of the tomato paste. 
  8. Simmer green peas in a cup of your fish stock. Not for too long, they are perfect with a slight crunch. It is when they reached the brightest green color when they want to be taken out of the liquid and rinsed with cold water using a sieve. Cover with a cotton cloth and put aside. 
  9. Once you your freekeh is slowly reaching the consistency you feel is right for you, start with your seafood.
  10. Heat up some olive oil in a pot. Just in the right moment when your oil is about to start smoking, add crushed garlic, clams and crayfish tails, a handful of parsley and a pinch of sea salt, close the lid and shake, then put back on the stove for not more than 2 minutes max. The clams should have now opened and your baby crayfish tails should be cooked through. 
  11. Spread your risotto evenly over a flat plate. Garnish with folded up, thinly sliced Chorizo, peas, seafood, slices of roasted red sweet peppers, fresh parsley, basil leaves and Angel Hair Chili. 

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Myles Heneke

Editor and Food Stylist

Food has always been my weakness, and by food I mean desserts and the feast of a special occasion. Of course this is no way to live (God only blessed Nigella with the wherewithal), but I do believe that there is a way to enjoy all kinds of food and still be healthy without being the least puritanical.
For me it’s simple. Use only the best quality ingredients (local, natural and sustainable) and decide what constitutes ‘everyday eating’ and what constitutes ‘eating for an occasion’.

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