Today’s Smoked Salmon Risotto with Crème Fraîche is what I affectionately refer to as “brunch meets risotto”. Although, I can’t help but see problems with that moniker. For one, smoke salmon is too good to only be allocated to morning meals. And, although this dish was inspired by bagel and lox it contains no cream cheese and is devoid of everything bagel spice. So can I, in good conscience, call this brunch? Especially since I ate this for dinner? Does anyone care? I’m guessing not, but now you know these are the sorts of things that rattle around in my brain all day. I’m a “unique” individual, let’s leave it at that.
I suppose I wanted this to be the brunch version of risotto because I wanted and want to prove that risotto can really be anything you want it to be. People don’t tend to play with risotto as much as they do with pasta or pizza or noodles. You tend to see a mushroom risotto here, a seafood risotto there. But risotto can take just about anything on. And unlike pizza or really even pasta, risotto can be a compliment to the main event or the event itself.
There are many recipes for risotto on this blog. In fact, one of my first recipes was a miso risotto. If you happen to click that link please know the photos are new-ish but the writing is horribly vintage. So please don’t judge. Risotto seems to have a hold on me, which is funny because I didn’t really grow up with it. But there is something I find endlessly compelling and it isn’t nostalgia-driven like most of my food obsessions. I love risotto because at its root it’s very simple. It’s a dish that is more about the process than the ingredients involved. I always feel like there’s a quiet poetry to dishes like that, an elegance. The technique does the heavy-lifting, while you daydream over possible flavors.
Risotto is a blank canvas in many ways. And that may sound like an insult but I don’t mean it as one. You could give me a risotto made with nothing more than shallots, rice, and good stock and I would eat it gladly and probably hit you up for seconds. But risotto is also a chameleon of sorts. Risotto’s flavors aren’t overly dominant, so they aren’t likely to fight any of the cheeky additions you might decide to add. But the true strength of risotto is never eclipsed either. That silky texture and slight chew are only disrupted by over or under-cooking, not by an additional ingredient.
Now, I bring this up every time I post a risotto recipe but it bears repeating. Risotto is not a back-breaking undertaking. Does it take some time? Sure, but only about 20-30 minutes or so. And no, you are not chained to the stove and you don’t have to stir incessantly. Sure, you shouldn’t wander off completely but you’re certainly not at risk of developing carpal tunnel. And even when you are stirring, you can still sip a glass of wine while being bathed in the aromatic steam of your slowly cooking rice.
I adore making risotto. It’s the perfect meditative task. You have one focus and it’s simple and it yields consistent results. How many things in your daily life can you say that about? This Smoked Salmon Risotto starts like all good risottos do, with a pot of gently simmering stock. I picked some halibut stock up from my local fish market for this dish. But you can use any seafood stock you would like. And if you can’t get your hands on seafood stock, good ol’ chicken or vegetable will do.
Once your stock is simmering, saute some shallots and toast the rice. Then the zen begins. Start ladling the stock into the rice until it softens and becomes creamy. This does take some time. So make sure you have a nice cup of something within reaching distance. And honestly, the best advice I can dispense is to give yourself over to the process. This is your sole occupation for the next 20 minutes. Just enjoy the clarity and simplicity of mono-tasking.
When your risotto is silky, take it off of the heat and stir in the crème fraîche, smoked salmon, Dijon mustard, and dill. In this instance, the additional flavors are added at the end of the risotto journey. But that isn’t always the case. Recipes like the miso risotto and this shrimp bisque risotto use different types of soup in place of the base stock.
So, as you can see, you can alter your risotto by either switching up the stock, stirring interesting bits of cheese, meat, and/or veg at the end, or you could try sauteeing that veg at the beginning before introducing the rice. Or, and I swear that is the last “or”, you could use a combination of all three. There are so many ways to play with risotto, so let your imagination run wild. Oh and potential toppings for risotto extend far past the poached egg you see here. So have fun!
That’s everything you need to know about this Smoked Salmon Risotto with Crème Fraîche. With this recipe, you not only get a fun and slightly unique risotto, but you also gain the skill of making risotto. And once you have the process down, you can make a risotto that’s unique to you. In fact, you can make several risottos that are unique to you. And yes, you could totally serve this for brunch. I think it would work.
Smoked Salmon Risotto with Crème Fraîche
- 1 Large pot
- 1 Large, deep skillet
- 1 non-stick skillet
- 1 litre (4 cups) fish stock I used halibut
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 shallots halved and sliced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup crème fraîche
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 100g (3.5oz) smoked salmon chiffonade
- ¼ cup fresh dill finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard heaping
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1 mini cucumber julienned
- microgreens for sprinkling
- Pour the fish stock into a large pot and place it over high heat on the back burner of your stove. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce to the barest simmer.1 litre (4 cups) fish stock
- On the front burner, place a large, deep skillet. Pour in the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and a healthy pinch of salt. Sauté over low heat until translucent.**2 tbsp olive oil, 3 shallots
- Pour in the arborio rice and increase the temperature to medium. Toast the rice until it begins to crackle and smells faintly nutty. Pour in the wine and reduce the heat all low as it can go. Stir until the wine disappears.1 cup arborio rice, ½ cup dry white wine
- Start adding a couple of ladles worth of the simmering stock to the rice. Stir the rice frequently over low heat until the stock is absorbed. Repeat until all the stock has been integrated, this should take about 25 minutes. ***
- While the risotto is cooking, fill a non-stick skillet ¾ of the way up with water. Place it over high heat and bring it to a boil before reducing it to a simmer. Add the vinegar.1 tsp white vinegar
- Working with an egg at a time, crack the egg into a ramekin and set it aside. Using a spoon, create a vortex in the center of the simmering water. Bring the lip of the ramekin up to the center of the vortex and pour the egg in. Repeat with the remaining egg.2 large eggs
- Cover the skillet and poach for 3-4 minutes or until the whites are set and yolks are still runny. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel. Set them aside to drain.
- Your risotto should be done by now. Take it off of the heat and stir in the crème fraîche, smoked salmon, dill, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt accordingly.⅓ cup crème fraîche, 100g (3.5oz) smoked salmon, ¼ cup fresh dill, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, ½ lemon
- Divide the risotto across two bowls and top each with a poached egg and cucumber, and finish with microgreens and additional fresh dill. Serve immediately.microgreens, 1 mini cucumber