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Welsh blue cheese risotto with oven-roasted sea bass

(June 01, 2014)

Welsh blue cheese risotto with oven-roasted sea bass
(this dish is suitable for pesco-vegetarians,
for lacto-vegetarians without the fish,
or for vegans by substituting the cheese with sautéed leeks, caramelised onions or broad beans)

 Welsh blue cheese risotto with oven-roasted sea bass

People say risotto is difficult to make. But really, it is quite a simple dish to master, with a bit of practice (and patience). I now produce this dish, consistently well, without even looking at the cooking instructions, having the confidence to know when the rice is cooked (to my taste – this being a rather subjective matter in itself), the sauce sufficiently loose (as a result of the correct amount of stock having been used and/or other ingredients such as cheese and butter) and then adding herbs or other flavorings, depending on the dish I wish to achieve.

For those new to this dish, using the instructions (always printed on the back of risotto rice packets) is easy and, with practice, and time, you'll soon develop the same confidence.

Risotto makes a great base dish, and in this recipe I have used Welsh blue cheese ... but you can also add sautéed leeks, caramelised onions, broad beans, lardons, chorizo, roasted chicken (the choices are endless) to personalise.


  Risotto rice (servings per person as per instructions): available at all good supermarkets and delicatessens
  Vegetable stock/chicken stock (as per instructions): you can use your own, pre-made packets, or a stock cube
  Garlic: three finely-chopped cloves
  Welsh blue cheese (or cheese of your choice): crumbled (Stilton would be another good option, due to it's strength of flavour). Use two thirds the risotto itself, and sprinkle the rest over the top at the end, just prior to serving
  Sea bass x 2 (whole): gutted and with head removed - ask your fishmonger

Boksburg Blue - Welsh blue cheeseI used this fabulously rich and creamy Welsh blue cheese, but others would work well too

First, wash the sea-bass (which has had its insides and head removed). Pat dry, and then place on tin foil - raise the sides to make a parcel (so none of the juices are lost during cooking) and allow a small gap at the top of the parcel. Cooking the sea-bass, on the bone, means that you retain all its flavour and moisture whilst cooking.

Oven-roasted sea bassOven-roasted sea bass

Set aside the prepared fish.

Pour some olive oil (or oil of your choice) into a frying pan. Heat gently, then gently fry the chopped garlic, moving it around the pan to avoid it burning.

Measure out the amount of risotto rice you need (per person) and add to the frying pan. Move the rice around the pan for five minutes on a low to medium heat. What you trying to do is to ensure all the rice grains are coated in the oil and garlic.

Then, start slowly adding the stock (which should always be warm first) until the risotto starts to bubble and the stock is absorbed and evaporates. Resist the temptation to add too much stock at any one time, as this is how you control to what extent the rice grains cook, as you are looking for a little bite to them; the classic al dente (i.e. cooked to be firm to the bite, which is certainly what I prefer, especially when incorporating a rich sauce … such as with this recipe).

 Keep adding the stock and reducing (which will take 15-20 minutes) and start tasting the rice to see if you are happy with it.

With the rice nearing completion, then start adding the crumbled Welsh blue cheese in batches, mixing well, so the cheese is evenly distributed amongst the risotto. Continue to do this until only a third of the cheese is left (the remaining third will be used to sprinkle on the top).


Welsh blue cheese risotto with oven-roasted sea bass Welsh blue cheese risotto with oven-roasted sea bass

With 10 minutes cooking time left to the risotto, place the foil parcels in a hot, pre-heated oven (220 °C, gas mark 7). Fish should gently flake away from the bone when ready.

Remove the risotto from the pan and serve, sprinkling with the remaining, crumbled, Welsh blue cheese. Place the fish (either still inside or removed from the foil parcel) alongside.


Claire Meredith, June 2014

Also from the Head Chef at Tŵr Cymru Culture Towers
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      Chic party food ideas 2, June 2011
      The cupcake revolution, February 2011
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      Stylish party canapes, September 2009

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