(CNN) — Venice is a magical, mysterious, romantic place — but let’s talk about the elephant in the room: it has a reputation for bad food. Too many touristic places serving frozen pizza and spaghetti Bolognese.
So, which dish did Scappin choose to co-create with Tucci to showcase the city’s best of canals and surrounding lagoon? A Venetian classic: black squid risotto with squid. Calamari (seppia in Italian) is the cousin of the squid and the octopus.
The ink of the squid is an important ingredient.
“The precious ink is used to blacken the risotto, making the dish as theatrical as Venice itself,” explains Tucci.
Black squid risotto is so delicious that it is claimed by some neighboring countries as their invention. It is impossible to know for sure who made the dish, but in the Venetian cookbook, the ink has been dry for a long time.
(From left) Stanley Tucci and Chef Giovanni “Gianni” Scappin are shown in a scene from “Searching for Italy”.
Black Ink Risotto With Squid
(Risotto al Nero di Seppia)
Make 4 to 6 servings
If you want to add tomatoes to this dish, peeled tomatoes work well, or you can try it passata di pomodoroor pureed tomatoes, available at Italian specialty stores or online at international gourmet sites.
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced (1/2 cup | 26 ounces, or use shallots)
1 garlic clove, sliced or left whole and removed during squid cooking
10.6 ounces | 300 grams squid, ink bags carefully removed and meat cut into strips and/or squares 2.5 cm wide
1 to 2 teaspoons | 5 to 10 milliliters of squid ink (about 1 to 2 bags, depending on size)
125 milliliters | 1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup | 200 grams peeled tomatoes, cut into pieces or passata di pomodoro (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 stick of unsalted butter; plus more for serving (optional)
1 1/2 cups | 300 grams of Carnaroli rice or Vialone Nano rice
4 1/4 cups | 1 liter fish stock, hot and not very strong
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, fresh, chopped
7 1/2 grams | 4 teaspoons Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and saute half of the chopped onion (¼ cup or 13 grams) gently for 5 to 7 minutes until soft and lightly golden brown. Add the garlic and squid along with the ink. Stir the squid for about 1 minute. Then add the wine and optionally the tomatoes. Season very lightly with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally and checking for tenderness, until squid is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes total. If necessary, add a little more water to the pan to keep the mixture “juicy”. The cooking time of the squid depends on the size and thickness of the strips. If the meat is very tender, it can be cooked directly in the rice.
2. In a separate 2 or 3 quart stock pot with straight sides, sauté the remaining ¼ cup (13 grams) onion with the butter. Add the rice and toast the grains, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the rice is hot and coated with butter and onion, but has not changed color, about 30 seconds.
3. Add 1 cup hot stock and bring to a boil over low heat. As the liquid reduces, continue to add stock through the cup, stirring constantly. If the squid is being cooked separately, add it to the rice halfway through the cooking time, about 7 minutes. Continue cooking, adding a small amount of stock as needed until the rice is al dente and the risotto itself is still wet but not too runny, 7 to 8 minutes more. Total time should be 14 to 15 minutes after rice is added. If the stock is very strong, dilute with some water. Do not overcook the rice or it will become mushy.
4. Remove from heat, add butter, parsley, Parmesan and toss the rice vigorously (see video) to create creaminess and a texture that is wavy (but not “splash-like”). This style of risotto is called “all’onda”.
5. The dish should be served on a flat plate, not in a bowl, and eaten with a fork. Just before serving, add some black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired.