Five minutes chatting to Iain McKellar of justseaweed.com about the range of products he forages off the Isle of Bute on the beautiful Scottish west coast was enough to have me more than a little excited by the possibilities. Frequently recently I have been wandering along coastal beaches and wondered exactly what to do with the bounty that’s uncovered when low tide beckons and the nature that lurks beneath the waves shows itself. Sometimes like a nervous child on the first night of the school play, hiding itself in the shadows, sometimes, like the great swarthes of seaweed simply basking in the open and soaking up the life giving sun.
The range and taste was both enormous and intriguing. However I went for the very safe option of native dried Dulse, alongside dried Kombu, which is prevalent in Japan and Korea and which I was advised to use as umami stock. With these two wonderful dried ingredients from the sea there could only be one thing to try. My favourite risotto, smoked haddock. There is something wonderful I think about bringing fish to life in what feels like its natural environment.
Smoked haddock risotto with seaweeds
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 15g dried kombu (if unavailable just use fish or seafood stock)
- 700ml boiling water
- 1 peat smoked haddock fillet
- olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 1 leek (finely chopped)
- 150g risotto rice (I like nano vialone best)
- 15g dried dulse (chopped with scissors into 5mm pieces)
- 100ml white wine
1. Soak the dried kombu in the boiling water for about an hour. Then remove the seaweed and discard from the ‘stock’. Bring the stock to a simmer and add the haddock to poach. When cooked, 3-4 minutes remove and keep the stock warming.
2. In a heavy based saute pan over a medium heat add the olive oil and soften but don’t colour the garlic, onion and leek for around 5 minutes.
3. Add the rice and the dulse and stir to cover with the oil and cook for 5 more minutes. Stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
4. Add the white wine and evaporate, stirring constantly. Then stock ladelwise, stirring constantly to give a creamy texture and a good bit to the rice. You may not need all the stock, you may need to add extra water to the pot, it all depends how you like it. I like a bite to the rice. 15-20 minutes.
5. When the rice has almost finished cooking, with the last ladel of stock, add the fish and stir it through, you want the fish to be quite chunky, not invisible.
6. Add a good grating of pecorino and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with crusty bread.