Yes, this orzo risotto with sea bream and eggplant cream recipe is unnecessarily complicated. Yes, this recipe could have been at least three separate recipes. Yes, we did it anyways.
As always, our primary goal is to inspire and impress. We simply want to show what’s possible if you do the absolute maximum. Maybe that’s a stupid idea (content-wise), but we’ll continue doing so because we like a good challenge.
You don’t have to make your own fish broth. But now you sure can.
You don’t have to spend two days preparing the fish. You could use canned sardines or even tuna.
You don’t have to add the eggplant cream. But you could. It adds complexity and an exciting twist to the dish, but the orzo risotto is fine on its own. The cream is also a great dip for chips and veggies.
Orzo Risotto With Sea Bream, Black Garlic And Eggplant Cream
For the fish:
- 1 sea bream sea brass and grey mullet will also work, about 700g
- 1 onion
- Parsley and dill any herbs you like
- Trimmings of 1 fennel
- Half a lemon
- Bay leaf
- Fennel seeds
For the Orzo:
- 250 g orzo pasta
- 1 shallot chopped
- Pinch of saffron
- 100 g white wine
- 1 dry chili
- Poaching liquid from fish
- 2 vines yellow cherry tomatoes
- 1 eggplant halved and scored
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic
- 7-8 cloves black garlic
- Olive oil
For the fish:
- Soak the kombu in cold water for 10 minutes until the kombu has softened. Save the water.
- In the meantime, place onion, fennel, fennel seeds, lemon, stems of parsley, dill, and plenty of salt in a pot. Cover with enough kombu water (add extra water if you need to), so the fish can later be submerged.
- Bring to a boil (don't add the fish at this point).
- On a sheet of cling film, arrange a layer of kombu twice the size of the fish. Add parsley, dill, and zest of the remaining lemon.
- Add leftover kombu to the pot, reduce heat to a bare simmer, and gently add the fish. Poach for about 20 min, depending on the size of the fish.
- Carefully fish the fish from the broth and immediately place it on the bed of herbs and kombu. Cover and wrap tightly. Place in fridge overnight, and up to 36 hours. Reserve the broth!
- Hey, it's the next day! Unwrap the fish, remove the skin, and carefully pull the flesh, removing any bones. Finish with chopped dill, parsley, lemon juice, and (of course) olive oil.
For the Orzo:
- Salt the eggplant and let it sit for 15 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Place a lightly oiled roasting pan in a 200c oven for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven, place the garlic, rosemary, tomatoes, eggplant, season everything with salt, and roast for about 20 minutes. (Scoring the eggplant helps it cook faster, heating up the oil helps sear the vegetables).
- Warm up the fish broth you made the day before. Don't have it anymore? We told you to reserve the broth!
- Add some dry chili to a large frying pan, toast for a minute, add olive oil, then orzo and saffron. Toast, occasionally stirring, for about three minutes. Add white wine and let simmer to remove alcohol. Start adding the hot fish broth, a ladleful at a time, while shifting the orzo.
- After about 16 minutes, it should be fully cooked yet retain some bite. Add the roasted tomatoes and keep warm.
- Blitz the roasted eggplant, black garlic, and a splash of poaching liquid to a smooth cream.
- Now you’re finally ready to plate:
- Spread the black eggplant cream on the plate. Spoon over your orzo, and finish with a few chunks of poached fish.
- Eat. Take a nap.