x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Marco Pierre White: Three recipe special

A colourful fish feast with risotto cakes to satisfy all the senses.

A delightful medley of fresh flavours creates this hammour and classic Italian risotto dish that can be served together or separately.
A delightful medley of fresh flavours creates this hammour and classic Italian risotto dish that can be served together or separately.

OK, I admit it, you may need to do this at the weekend - this is a lot of cooking - but bear with me, and recruit some friends or family to help. Remember my motto that cooking is free therapy, and enjoy yourself.

You could always prepare the risotto cakes to the point of cooking the day before, thus leaving you with just the fish dish on D-Day. I love this risotto - well, I love any risotto - but this saffron-flavoured one is the ultimate classic. It is the little black dress of risottos. If you can't find any saffron in the supermarket - I hear from my spies it is tough to get hold of - then head to the spice shops in the new Central Market, which have it in abundance.

So, your risotto cakes are all ready to go and now you can start to cook the fish. As I say, pan-fry it, then pop it in the oven, but be careful not to overcook it or it will become rubbery. I find fish is a really difficult thing to get right; it either seems to be sublime or practically inedible, most of the time the latter.

My tip for cooking fish well is to cook it until it is almost done, then remove from the pan and let it stand. Before you get the fish home, follow this simple rule: smell it - fish should smell sweet, not fishy. You should be able to imagine yourself at the water's edge. If it smells strong, it is past its prime.

Eating is about satisfying all the senses, not just the taste-buds; the white fish, the yellow risotto and the green spinach are perfect together.



Pan-seared hammour, tomato and orange sauce, saffron risotto cakes



For the risotto:

1.5l vegetable stock

0.5g saffron filaments

20ml olive oil

80g white onion, chopped (around one large onion)

560g Carnaroli risotto rice

360g butter

120g Parmesan cheese, shredded

1 tsp salt

2 tsp black pepper


For the risotto cakes:

640g saffron risotto recipe

2 whole eggs

100g Parmesan cheese, shredded

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground

100g white flour

4 beaten eggs

100ml milk

250g breadcrumbs

400ml corn oil


For the hammour:

800g Roma tomatoes (around 6 or 7)

500ml water

275g spinach (1 bag), stems trimmed

40ml olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

3 or 4 cloves garlic, crushed

Handful of basil leaves

16 x 100g hammour fillet

800g oranges (4 or 5 medium ones), segmented, juice reserved

8 risotto cakes



For the risotto:

1. Bring vegetable stock to simmer in a casserole over medium heat. Add the saffron. Keep stock hot.

2. Heat olive oil in a large casserole and sweat the onion until it becomes translucent. Add risotto rice.

3. Add stock in small portions to rice, stirring continually for 13-14 minutes, waiting for stock to absorb each time.

4. Set aside and add butter and most of the Parmesan. Season, stir and let sit for 1 minute. Cool and chill. Or, if serving on its own, plate and top with rest of cheese.


For the risotto cakes:

1. Place the chilled risotto in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add 2 whole eggs, Parmesan, lemon zest and nutmeg.

3. Divide the mixture into 8 balls. Form each into a flat disc 1cm-2cm high (have a bowl of water on the side to moisten your hands and avoid any sticking).

4. Dip the cakes in sequence in the flour, beaten eggs and milk and bread crumbs.

5. Heat corn oil in a pan on medium. Shallow-fry cakes until golden brown on both sides.

6. Serve as an accompaniment to the tomato orange hammour or on their own with smoked salmon and sour cream.


For the hammour:

1. Core and cut an "X" in each of the tomatoes. Plunge into boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and put into ice water to instantly stop the cooking process.

2. Peel the tomatoes, cut into quarters, discard the seeds and set aside. Each tomato quarter should resemble a petal.

3. Boil a pot with half a litre of water, plunge in the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes. Strain and chill under running water. Heat 30ml of olive oil in a pan on medium. Squeeze out excess water and sauté spinach in olive oil. Season.

4. Preheat oven to 180C. Heat 10ml of olive oil in a pot and add the crushed garlic. When hot add the tomato petals and basil. Season with salt, cover with the lid and switch off the heat. Let rest.

5. Season the hammour filets on both sides and pan-sear on both sides. Remove to a tray and bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Retain the frying pan.

6. Swirl the orange juice around in the hot frying pan. Add the orange segments, tomato petals, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Remove from the stove and set aside.

7. Place a risotto cake on the left of each of eight plates, and alternate the sautéed spinach and the hammour to the right. Top with the sauce of tomatoes and orange segments and finish with freshly cracked black pepper.