Welsh seafood risotto

by Lisa Fearn

A simple dish that allows good quality ingredients to sing


For the seafood:
150g fresh, live cockles
150g fresh, live mussels
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ red pepper, really finely chopped
1 small garlic clove
1 glass of dry white wine
300ml chicken stock
1 sprig of thyme

For the risotto:
25g butter
25ml vegetable oil
2 leeks or 1 large leek, sliced
1 celery stick, finely diced
350g arborio rice
1-2 tsp laver bread
A handful of grated mature, hard Welsh cheese
Parsley, chopped (to finish)


Check your cockles and mussels: discard any mussels that refuse to close when given a sudden tap (a healthy mussel will always close when tapped, it is a way of defending itself).

Place the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the onion, pepper and garlic—do not colour the onions, keep the temperature low! Add the white wine, chicken stock and thyme to the pan then bring to a simmer. Add the shellfish, cover with a lid and allow to steam for 4 to 5 mins. You can check to see they are cooked: open the pan lid and if the mussels are open, they’re ready.

Drain the cockles and mussels. Keep the cooking liquor as this will be the stock for your risotto. Remove the shells and keep both the cockles and mussels to use in the risotto.

To make the risotto, place the butter and oil in a deep frying pan and sauté the leeks and celery over a medium heat, until they soften but do not colour (burnt leek is not pleasant!) Add the risotto rice to the pan and continue to stir until the rice is well heated. Continue to cook the rice, adding a ladle full of the reserved cooking liquor from the cooked seafood. Stir and keep adding until the rice is soft and cooked (it should still have a little bite to it and be creamy).

Finally, add the cockles, mussels and the laver bread, and stir through. Add plenty of ground black pepper and a sprinkling of a hard, mature Welsh cheese or similar.

Garnish with some chopped fresh parsley and serve with steamed vegetables of your choice—I love Tenderstem broccoli spears.

Recipe: Lisa Fearn