I used striped bass for the broth in this recipe, but you can use any lean white fish. I've done this with yellow perch from Lake Erie and it was sublime, and codfish, walleye, smallmouth bass, black seabass, Pacific rock cod and ling all work fine. The fennel is important, so if you can't find a fennel bulb, add a tablespoon of fennel seeds to the broth. It's also vital that you use short-grained rice, preferably proper risotto rice -- long-grained rice lacks the particular starch needed to make a risotto.
About 2 to 3 pounds of fish heads, bones and fins,gills removed
1fennel bulb,both bulb and fronds, chopped
Salt to taste
1 1/2cupsrisotto rice
About 1 cup flaked fish meat
1/4cupfinely grated parmesan cheese
Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in all the fish heads and bones. Let this return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and discard the water. Pick off about 1 cup of fish from the carcasses and heads and set aside in the fridge.
Clean the pot or use another, and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the celery, onion and fennel bulb for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Do not let it brown. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute.
Add the blanched fish carcasses, green peppercorns, bay leaves and parsley and cover with enough water to submerge everything by 1 inch. Bring to a bare simmer, then drop the heat a little until the broth is just steaming, about 160°F. Add salt to taste. Let this cook gently like this for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Once the broth has been cooking for 45 minutes, start the risotto. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots for about 90 seconds, until they turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the risotto rice and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, get a fine-meshed sieve and a ladle ready. Add the white wine to the risotto and stir to combine. The rice will almost immediately absorb it. When the pot is nearly dry, add two ladles of the fish broth -- poured through the strainer to make sure all that's in the risotto is broth, not debris.
Stir the risotto almost constantly until the rice absorbs the broth. Taste for salt and add a little if needed. Repeat this process of adding a ladle or two of strained broth and stirring until it has absorbed until the rice is fully cooked, but still al dente. You want it just past the point where there is a little chalkiness at the center of each grain of rice. This normally takes 35 minutes or so.
When the rice is ready, stir in the remaining ingredients. The risotto will tighten up, so add a final ladle of fish broth right before you serve. This risotto needs to be a little soupy; the Italian term is all'onda, or "under the waves."
You may end up with more broth than you need. That's OK, once it's strained it will keep for a week in the fridge and will freeze well for up to 3 months.