Smoked fish risotto

Smoked fish risotto

Risotto al pesce affumicato

Helen Cathcart

Smoked herrings, what we call kippers, have been available in Venice since the Venetians started trading with northern countries. Preserved fish such as these travelled well and were popular in the past as part of the cuisine of the poor and were eaten with polenta. I loved the idea of making a creamy risotto with smoked, fish and after listening to our friend Monica’s words about making a risotto out of ‘anything you can eat’ it has now become one of my favourite dishes being both easy to make and full of flavour. A simple stock is made from the cooking liquor for the kipper.


Quantity Ingredient
200ml milk
1 litre water
4 kippers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
50g butter
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
fine salt
freshly ground black pepper
300g vialone nano or other risotto rice
100ml white wine
50g parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
handful parsley, roughly chopped
200g leeks, finely sliced
or 200g spring onions, finely sliced
or 200g shallots, finely sliced


  1. Heat the milk and water in a saucepan over a medium heat and when simmering hot (don’t let it boil) add the kippers and cook through. Strain the liquid into another saucepan and keep warm; this will be your stock. Remove and discard the skin and flake up the fish into a bowl.
  2. Ladle in around 500 ml of the hot stock and mix quickly into the rice. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon and when the risotto thickens to the point where you can see the bottom of the pan when you draw the spoon across the bottom add another ladleful of stock. Continue adding stock each time the risotto thickens back up.
  3. After about 20 minutes taste the risotto to see whether it is done. The rice grains should be just translucent through the grain. They should feel soft on the outside with a hint of firmness in the centre. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Remove the pan from the heat. Leave it slightly soupy as this liquid will continue to be absorbed over the following few minutes.
  4. Mix in the fish at the end before the Parmesan and remaining butter is added. Serve with extra Parmesan and the parsley.
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