Marinara sauce is the American-Italian term for tomato sauce, but in Italy it usually refers to a sauce prepared in the style of the seaman’s wife and is a tomato-based sauce with seafood. I really liked the risotto alla marinara I had at Ristorante Anna in the Adriatic beach town Gabicce Mare, and decided to recreate something similar at home.
This is the risotto at Ristorante Anna, which was served without parsley and with the fish served on top, cooked until it was very flaky. I kept the fish in moist morsels instead. Otherwise I kept it very simple, just like the risotto at Ristorante Anna. Rice, fish, fish stock, and tomatoes are the main ingredients apart from the risotto standard ingredients onion, white wine, and butter. The fish stock at Anna included shrimp shells for more depth of flavor, and I copied that as well. Here’s what I did.
250 grams (.55 lbs) filleted firm-fleshed white fish such as sea bass, grouper or gurnard, cut into pieces
130 grams (2/3 cup) risotto rice such as carnaroli
800 grams (1.8 lbs) ripe plum tomatoes
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
For the stock
1 carrot, 1 onion, and 1 celery stick
about 500 grams (1.1 lbs) fish heads and bones
about 100 grams (3.5 oz) shrimp heads and shells
Prepare the fish stock and make sure you end up with about 600 ml (2 1/2 cups). Keep the stock hot.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until it is no longer watery.
Add a ladle of stock and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until it has been absorbed. Keep adding stock ladle by lade and keep stirring until you have run out of stock. The rice should still be somewhat undercooked. Turn off the heat.
Now add the fish to the tomato sauce, which should be ready by now. (If it was ready too early, turn off the heat and then bring it to a boil as soon as you’ve finished adding all of the stock to the rice.)
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the rice has absorbed most of the tomato sauce. Taste for doneness. If the rice is not done yet, add a bit of hot water and keep stirring until it is cooked to your liking.
This is great with a full-bodied Italian coastal white, such as a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi or a Greco di Tufo.
This is my take on seafood paella. Not completely traditional, but nicely presented and very tasty.