Sea Urchin Risotto (Ριζότο με Αχινό)
Adapted from Βαρούλκο Χρώματα, Αρώματα και Γέυσεις (Varoulko Colors, Smells and Tastes) by Λευτέρης Λαζάρου με Νταϊάνα Κόχυλα (Lefteris Lazarou with Diane Kochilas)
Sea urchin roe captures the sea’s pure essence, and has its own pleasant sweetness. Creamy risotto is an excellent way to extend and enhance urchins’ flavor. Depending on the season, it can take awhile to clean sufficient sea urchins for risotto. The dish is absolutely delicious when made with 1/2 cup fresh sea urchin roe, as Lazarou specifies, and decadent if 3/4 cup roe is used, as I admit to having done. The easiest way to warm plates is to microwave them on high for 1 minute. Here are directions, with photographs, for opening sea urchins.
1 cup diced yellow onion, 1/8” dice
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly crushed white peppercorns
1 cup Arborio rice
4 – 5 cups chicken or fish stock, or clam nectar
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh sea urchin roe, carefully cleaned of all spines and grit, divided
Sauté onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly crushed white peppercorns, in olive oil until they soften and start to turn golden. Stir in rice to completely coat it with oil and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, and stir until it’s almost absorbed. Add 1/2 cup stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until stock is almost absorbed. Continue adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time, and stirring while its absorbed, until risotto is the consistency you desire; it should be moist and creamy, not stiff or dry. It takes about 18 – 20 minutes for the rice to cook properly.
When rice is just done, stir in 1/4 cup sea urchin roe, and divide risotto between 4 warmed plates. Make a shallow hollow in center of each portion, and fill it with remaining sea urchin roe, evenly divided.