Aiming to Peas!

The husband isn’t the biggest fan of fish. I am a massive fan of fish. Therefore sometimes we have a problem when I really need a seafood fix!

Don’t get me wrong, its not as if he refuses to eat fish, he just needs some gentle coaxing sometimes and there are certain things that I love that are definite no-no’s – namely mussels, smoked salmon and mackerel. I tend to reserve these to eat when I am alone!

Again, I think sometimes our opinions of food are shaped by our childhoods. I was brought up eating lots of fish, on the bone and I was taught at an early age not to be scared of bones. The husband really wasn’t and probably the only fish he was given to eat was battered. However, he’s has come on a long way and is willing to try most things.

The other night I decided to make something a little bit different and I also had a bit of a hankering for scallops. The husband actually doesn’t mind scallops, but he loves risotto and he also loves peas. So I thought about combining the three, to make a dish which was the best of both – something for me and something for him. I do make a good negotiator.

Scallop and pea puree often appear together on menus and I have a basic recipe for a pea risotto. However, after a bit of a recipe search I came across one from Delicious Magazine which also incorporates pea puree in the risotto itself.

I think Shrek and the Incredible Hulk would love this meal

Overall the risotto was a nice balance between the sweet of the pea and the scallop and also the salty of the parmesan in the risotto. I know that Italians would be horrified at the thought of cheese and seafood, but I think it worked.

The only bit of advice I would give to anyone who wants to make this would be that you need to make sure that you have all of your pans (4!!) / equipment out and ready as there are lots of different pans / gadgets on the go at once and you need to keep an eye on everything. I was terrified of overcooking the scallops and turning £10 worth of lovely fish into rubber. Luckily it turned out all ok and the plus point was that the husband also loved it!

Scallop and Pea Risotto (Serves 4)

For the Scallops
15g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
300g roeless scallops, thawed if frozen
Fresh baby mint leaves, to serve

For the pea and mint risotto
1.2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
75g butter
1 small white onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
225g risotto rice
50ml dry white white wine (optional)
175g freshly shelled or frozen peas, plus a couple of handfuls
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
25g Parmesan, finely grated

First, you’ll need to make the risotto but the key to a good risotto is hot stock, so put the chicken or vegetable stock in a saucepan, bring to the boil and keep hot over a low heat.

Melt 50g of the butter in a medium pan, add the onion and celery and cook gently for a couple of minutes until the onion and celery are soft and translucent. Make sure they don’t colour too much.

Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated in butter. Pour in the white wine and simmer, stirring, until it has nearly disappeared. Add a ladleful of stock and stir over a medium heat until it is nearly all absorbed, then add another. Continue like this for 20-25 minutes or until al dente (so it has a bit of a bite to it).

Meanwhile, cook 175g of the peas in a pan of boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes, until tender. Drain well, tip into a food processor / blender and add the remaining butter and chopped mint. Process until smooth, and then set aside. If you find that it is hard work to puree this up all a small amount of stock to loosen.

When the risotto has about 5 minutes to go, heat a large frying pan over a high heat until smoking hot. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the butter, olive oil and half the scallops and sear for 1 minute, seasoning with salt and pepper as they cook. Quickly turn them over, season again and cook for another minute. Be careful not to overcook as they will end up like boot leather. Spoon them onto a plate and keep warm while you cook the remainder.

When the rice is tender but still a little al dente in the centre, stir in the pea purée, a handful of frozen peas, Parmesan and salt and pepper. Spoon onto warm plates and pile the scallops on top. Serve immediately, scattered with baby mint leaves and some extra parmesan.

Looks impressive, but really isn’t that hard to make.

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