1 kilogram clams
½ cup water
1 large bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
pinch chilli flakes
1½ cups risotto rice
1 cup white wine
5 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
¼ cup crème fraîche
small handful parsley, finely chopped
sea salt and ground pepper
Put the clams and water in a large saucepan. Cover and cook until the clams have opened. Remove clams from the pan and pour the cooking liquid into a jug. Set 16 clams aside for garnish and remove the meat from the remaining shells.
Cut off the top 8cm of the asparagus tips and set aside. Slice the remaining stalks into 2cm pieces. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, garlic, fennel seeds, chilli and the chopped asparagus stalks. Season and cook until the onion is soft.
Add the rice, stirring well to coat each grain in the oil. Cook for another minute until the rice is warm (toasted). Add the wine and stir until it has all evaporated.
Add the reserved clam juices, leaving any sediment in the bottom of the jug. Begin adding the hot stock, a ladle at a time, stirring and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next quantity. When the risotto is tender to the bite and has a creamy consistency, after about 20 minutes, add the crème fraîche, parsley and the clam meat.
Heat a little oil in a sauté pan and quickly cook the asparagus tips for a couple of minutes.
To serve: Spoon the risotto into warm bowls and top with the asparagus tips and reserved clams. Serves 4.