Perfect match: risotto & single malt whisky

You'll need

  Risotto 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil 50 gm butter, coarsely chopped 4 golden shallots, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 300 gm (1½ cups) canaroli rice 125 ml (½ cup) dry white wine 6 Balmain bug tails, shells removed 60 ml (¼ cup) single malt whisky, such as Glenmorangie 12 scallops, roe removed To serve: lemon wedges   Fish stock 2 (about 300gm) baby fennel 2 fish heads, rinsed and coarsely chopped 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced 1 fresh bay leaf ½ tsp white peppercorns 125 ml (½ cup) dry white wine


  • 01
  • For fish stock, coarsely chop stalks of fennel, reserving fronds and bulbs. Place fennel stalks, fish heads, leek, bay leaf and peppercorns in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, add white wine and cook for 5 minutes or until reduced by half, then add 1.5 litres of water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, discarding solids. Makes about 6 cups.
  • 02
  • Slice half the reserved fennel bulb to 5mm thick on a mandolin, place in acidulated water and set aside, then finely chop remaining half and set aside.
  • 03
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil and 20gm butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, add finely chopped fennel, shallot and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or until softened. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper. Add rice and cook for another 2 minutes, coating in onion mixture, add wine and cook until reduced to two-thirds. Gradually add fish stock, half a cup at a time, adding more as liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, until rice is al dente. Cut bugs into 4 pieces and add to risotto with last ½ cup of stock. Add half the fennel fronds. Add whisky and season to taste.
  • 04
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over high heat, add shaved fennel and cook for 3 minutes or until just starting to wilt. Season to taste, transfer to a bowl and keep warm. Wipe out pan with absorbent paper and place over high heat. Combine scallops and remaining oil in a bowl. Cook scallops for 30 seconds each side or until golden and cooked to your liking. Season to taste. To serve, add shaved fennel and fennel fronds to risotto, stir gently to combine, divide between serving bowls and top with scallops and lemon wedges.

Note This recipe was inspired by Icebergs chef Robert Marchetti's lobster and Islay risotto.

At first glance, this match looks like something straight out of the molecular gastronomy food-and-wine pairing handbook - risotto and whisky? Together? Really? Think about it for a minute or two, though, and you realise that it makes a lot of sense: a wee dram of fine malt is often a heart-warming accompaniment to a bowl of hearty fish soup on a chilly Scottish evening - why not add an Italian twist to the combination? Also, whisky tends to lend a strong flavour note to dishes when used (as here) at the last moment in the pan juices - so it seems sensible to match like with like. Remember that top-shelf Scotch is best enjoyed with just a splash of the purest water you can get your hands on to release the spirit's complex aromas. - Max Allen

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

Aug 2007

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