Seafood Rice Salad for a Midsummer Evening

Riso al Mare (Sicily) Along the northern coast of Sicily in the province of Messina are some wonderful beach towns and one, San Gregorio, was where after a day of strenuous skin diving a meal al fresco was in order.  The local restaurant served this rice salad called riso al mare followed by grilled fish.  The restaurant used a few of the cooked mussels and clams in their shells to decorate the salad as a garnish.

6 mussels, scrubbed and debearded just before cooking

6 littleneck clams, scrubbed

1/2 carrot, scraped and peeled

1 squid, cleaned

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups medium grain rice, such as Calrose

2 1/2 cups water

Salt to taste

6 cooked medium shrimp, shelled and very finely chopped

One 3-ounce can tuna in olive oil, very finely chopped with its oil

3 ounces Norwegian or Scottish smoked salmon, very finely chopped

2 canned hearts of palm, drained and very finely chopped

2 teaspoons beluga or salmon caviar (or 1/2 teaspoon black or red lumpfish caviar)

1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Place the mussels and clams in a pot with a few tablespoons of water and turn the heat to high.  Cover and cook until they open, 4 to 6 minutes.  Discard any that remain firmly shut.  Let the mussels and clams cool, remove from their shells, and chop very finely.  Set aside in a medium-size mixing bowl.

2. Place the carrot in a small saucepan, covered with water, and turn the heat to high.  Bring to a boil and cook until crisp-tender (or whatever you prefer), about 10 minutes.  Drain and chop very finely.

3. Put the squid in the pot you cooked the mollusks.  Add 3 tablespoons water and cook on high heat until firm, about 4 minutes.  Let cool, and chop very finely.  Cut the tentacles in half and set aside.  Add the rest of the chopped squid to the mixing bowl with the clams and mussels.

4. In a flameproof casserole with a heavy lid, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.  Add the water and 2 teaspoons salt, reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook without stirring for 12 minutes.  Do not lift the lid until then.  Check to see if the rice is cooked and all the water is absorbed.  If it isn’t add a little boiling water and cook until tender.  Transfer the cooked rice to a large bowl, spreading it out so it will cool faster.

5. Once the rice is completely cooled, use a fork to toss it very well with the mussels, clams, shrimp, squid, tuna, smoked salmon, carrots, hearts of palm, caviar, parsley, and olive oil.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.

6. Arrange attractively on an oval platter and garnish each end with the squid tentacles and parsley sprigs.

Makes 6 servings

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