After a night at work

I do love my job. But I hate those three days each month when I’m on call for the night. Well, since I can’t do anything against it, I found another strategy to cope with these nights: I reward myself on the next day. By going shopping. Or by meeting friends. Or making sports. Or going to the movies. And of course by enjoying good food.

Today, it was all about food. Fish was what I had in mind, and so I decided to drive to the fish market. Some nice red mullets caught my eye there. I took them home with me, thinking about what I could serve with them. Perhaps a vegetable side dish, maybe the one I had seen at lamiacucina lately? But then I changed my mind and decided to have a simple saffron risotto.

Red mullets have a very unique taste which goes well with strong flavors. In this case, I used saffron, thyme, and orange zest. The orange is perhaps the most important part, since its fresh and fruity flavor moderates perfectly between fish, saffron, and thyme.

Red mullet with saffron risotto

Serves 2:
4-6 red mullets (depending on size)
1 shallot
1 garlic clove
120 g butter
100 g risotto rice (e.g. carnaroli)
70 ml white wine
approx. 500 ml chicken stock
1 orange
1 capsule (0.1 g) saffron threads
20 g parmigiano reggiano cheese
salt
black pepper
1 tblsp. oil
1 handfull thyme sprigs

Start with preparing the mullets, i.e. scaling, gutting, and filleting them. Wash the fillets and dab them dry with paper towels.

Peel the shallot and garlic clove and dice both finely. Heat the chicken stock. Heat 20 g butter in a pot over low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until translucent. Now stir in the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and continue stirring until the liquid has evaporated completely. Now, add a ladle of hot chicken stock, continue cooking over low heat with continuous stirring. Every time, the liquid has evaporated, add more stock. The whole process will take about 15 minutes. The rice should be soft but still with a slight bite.

Peel off some orange zest (the outer, coloured part of the orange peel) and cut it into fine stripes. Now, halve the orange and squeeze it. Dissolve saffron in orange juice. Finely grate the parmigiano cheese.

When the risotto is done, add orange juice, parmigiano, and 50 g butter, season with salt. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes.

Heat 1 tblsp. oil in a teflon-coated frying pan. Season the mullet fillets with salt and pepper. Place the fillets skin-side down in the pan, together with thyme sprigs. Fry for about 45 seconds over moderate heat. You may have to press down the fish with a spatula during the first seconds to prevent it from curling up. As soon as the edges of the fillets start getting opaque, remove the pan from the heat. Now, add the remaining 50 g butter, turn the fillets around, and let them rest for another 30 seconds in the pan.

Arrange risotto and fish on plates and sprinkle the dish with a bit of orange zest.

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