December 31, 2014

Quick & Easy Smoked Mackerel Risotto for One.

smoked mackerel risotto

My belly has become rather rotund of late.

One of the (many) reasons is that I’m eating quick and easy meals that are not prepared from scratch.

Sauce from a jar. Fresh(ish) pasta that only needs three minutes in boiling water. A dash of grated cheese—whatever hard cheese is in the fridge.

I’m determined to get back into the swing of cooking properly, and moreover, eating a bigger meal at lunchtime and a lighter one in the evening (according to Ayurveda, our digestive fires are strongest at mid-day and this is the best time to consume larger meals, especially if there’s meat in it).

As I had just about a glass of white wine in the fridge, I had decided this morning that I would make risotto today.

So, when I kept working until I was hungry, I felt a tad annoyed at myself as this is when I’d be tempted to make a sandwich and leave the risotto for later on. But somehow I found myself pulling the wine and the single leftover smoked mackerel fillet out of the fridge. I chopped a shallot and in no time at all it was on the go.

Normally I would never make just one portion of risotto—somehow I had the idea that it takes too much time and effort for that. But I am here to say, this is not true. If you’re cooking a single portion, you can make a risotto in almost the same time as you would a pasta dish (if the pasta were dry).

There is a myth out there that to successfully cook a risotto you need to stir it continuously throughout. I never do this. I use the cooking time to prepare whatever it is I will be adding to the risotto towards the end. As long as you keep an eye throughout and stir regularly, it will be fine.

Of course, if you wish to, you could stand and stir until it is cooked—it’s a perfect opportunity to exercise mindfulness.

What you need:
½ a teacup (not the American measuring cup) of Arborio rice
1 shallot
1 glass of coiffable white wine
½ litre of vegetable stock
1 fillet of smoked mackerel (I like mine smoked with black peppercorns)
1 glug of rapeseed oil

Finely chop the shallot. Heat the rapeseed oil and soften the shallot in it. Add the rice and coat until all grains are shiny from the oil.

Then add the wine and allow it to cook off. Before the wine has completely evaporated add enough stock to cover the rice and simmer. Keep an eye on it, giving it a stir regularly. As the stock cooks off, add more.

If opting for multitasking rather than mindfulness, with one eye on the cooker peel the skin from the mackerel fillet and break into bite size pieces. Give the skin and one third of the fish to your cat. Set the remainder aside (two thirds is plenty for both flavour and texture, but if you don’t have a cat there’s no reason not to put the whole lot in).

After about 10 minutes, start testing the consistency of the rice—you’re looking for al dente, or firm to the bit. Once you’re feel it’s about a minute away from being ready, add in the flaked fish and another small drop of stock. Stir and leave for 30 to 40 seconds.

Normally with a veggie risotto I would add grated Parmesan cheese to the finished dish, but with the smoked mackerel there really is no need for additional flavours (or calories).

All done and ready to eat in 15 minutes.


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 Author: Hilda Carroll

Apprentice Editor: Melissa Scavetta / Editor: Catherine Monkman

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