Suzi's Blog

Risotto with Smoked Salmon from Tales of Risotto

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Sunday night is becoming our risotto night, thanks to Tales of Risotto. The fifty recipes in Tales cover every season and seemingly every season.

Last summer in Seattle we went crabbing as a family. And we got lots of smoked salmon, too. No, we did not catch the salmon. We actually, actually, bought line-caught fresh salmon in a local supermarket and then went around the corner from my daughter’s home. There, a local smoke house took the fish and five days later we had pounds and pounds of smoked salmon.

We had to buy two big carry-on coolers for our flight home. And many ice packs. Everything was great until we got into the security line.

“What is TSA going to think?” I whispered to Suzen. “I mean, the salmon could be colored plastic explosive for God’s sake.”

“I would suggest,” Suzen cautioned, “that you lower your voice and adjust your vocabulary.”

“Do I look like a terrorist? Should I have shaved?”

“No. Yes. Now, shut up.”

At the x-ray machine, the question was simple: “What is this?”


“All of it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You must like salmon.”

“Yes, sir.”

I do. That’s the truth. And smoked salmon is so very good in this risotto.

Yes, this recipe calls for a little Scotch. Maybe you need Scotch smoked salmon, too, not Seattle-style but it did not seem to matter. Now, the six cups of chicken stock? That matters. If at all possible, homemade is ideal.

Risotto with Smoked Salmon

Yield: serves 4 to 6


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced or shredded smoked salmon
  • ⅓ cup Scotch whiskey
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Carnaroli rice
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Caviar, for serving (optional)


Warm the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the salmon and sauté for 3 minutes. Pour the Scotch over the salmon and let it practically evaporate. Then cook, without boiling , for 1 minute, remove from the heat, and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat and keep at a bare simmer.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until every grain is coated with butter.

Add 1 cup of the stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently and making sure all the liquid is absorbed before adding more stock. Cook until the rice is just tender and creamy but still al dente, 15 to 20 minutes. You may have leftover stock.

Removed the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the cooked salmon, the Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can garnish with a lemon slice. Or, if you really want to splurge, a dollop of caviar over the risotto and a few drops of lemon juice will transform this into the most elegant dish you can imagine or present to family and friends.


From Tales of Risotto: Culinary Adventures from Villa d’Este by Jean Govoni Salvadore and Luciano Parolari, copyright © 2006, published by Glitterati Incorporated.



Salmon, Tomato and Dill Sauce: A Tapas Treat


Tapas dishes can be simple yet delicious. Or they can be a bit complex and totally delicious. This is the latter. It’s a fabulous dish that will awe anyone who eats it. The prep time here includes peeling tomatoes, a necessary step to make sure that the texture of all the components is delightfully consistent.

This is an example of a dish that in France would be called a verrine: a “vertical” terrine. It’s layered with each layer independently contributing visually as well as to the palette.

I was very proud of this dish, just to look at it. Taste wise? It’s wonderful. On my personal scale of 1 to 10, this rates an 8 or 9. How to get to a 10? I think you can add flavor here. Some smoked peppers with the tomatoes or as a separate layer. Perhaps some onion. This dish, wonderful by itself, simply begs for you to tinker and enjoy.

The dill sauce here is almost a mayonnaise. It just lacks lemon juice or vinegar. If you prefer, a splash of sherry vinegar at the end makes it brighter and, I think, a better match for the smoked salmon. As for that salmon, I posted a few days ago the idea of smoking your own at home using a Cameron stovetop smoker. This recipe is the perfect example of how that handy device can make your home cooking 3 star class.

To accompany this, Brian and I had some sparkling Cava with a splash of pomegranate liquor. Elegantly sophisticated and very gratifying. If you make this dish, you’re going to want something to wash down your pride.

This recipe comes from The Book of Tapas by Simone and Ines Ortega. Published last year, Book of Tapas is a treasure trove of delights like this one. You’ve had salmon with dill before, but never quite like this. I heartily recommend the book as source to inspire and please you.

Little Glasses of Salmon with Dill Sauce

Yield: Serves 6-8

Ingredients for the Dill Sauce:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon sweet mustard
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Salt


Ingredients for the Tomato and Salmon Layers:

  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 pound smoked salmon in one piece
  • Freshly ground pink pepper
  • 2 ounces salmon roe, drained
  • 1 sprig dill for garnish


Preparation of the Dill Sauce:

Whisk the egg yolk in a bowl. Add the sugar, dill and mustard and continue whisking. Gradually whisk in the oil, little by little. Season to taste with salt and place in the refrigerator.

Preparation of the Layers and Construction:

Whisk the walnut oil and balsamic vinegar together in another bowl. Add the pink pepper and salt to taste and continue whisking until all the ingredients are amalgamated. Add the tomatoes and gently toss until they are well coated with the dressing. Divide the tomatoes between 6-8 glasses.

Cut the salmon into small cubes. Add a layer of salmon cubes to each glass and spoon the sauce over each glass. Top with a little salmon roes. Chill until required, then garnish with dill and serve.

Tasting Notes:

As a variation, puree the salmon in a blender. Mix it with a little light cream, then make the salmon layer with this puree.

Source: Adapted from The Book of Tapas by Simone and Ines Ortega