Prawn and Fennel Risotto

also known as SHRIMP

  • Prep Time:
    20 mins

  • Cook Time:
    30 mins

  • Difficulty:
    Intermediate

  • Serves:
    4

Botanical Benefits*: Essential vitamins and minerals, protein, dietary fiber.

Diet Style: Authentic Italian and Mediterranean

This is a beautifully light risotto.  Served without cheese as all seafood risottos are, lovely with sweet greens like peas or asparagus tips in spring.

Taught to me by the wonderful Sophie Braimbridge in London back in my early days as a yacht chef when I needed a crash course in authentic Italian cooking. We cooked an extraordinary amount of dishes in just a few days and Sophie laid down some solid foundations of Italian cooking for me to build on.  This is still one of my very favourites—oh, and don’t skip making a stock with the prawn shells, it’s delicious.

 

Ingredients

  • 454g / 1lb raw, shell-on – shrimp/prawns – wild is much better for you.

  • 4 cups water

  • 3 tbsp. butter

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil

  • 1 medium onion – finely diced

  • 2 small fennel bulbs – diced small cubes. Set aside delicate fennel fronds to garnish. The bulb and fronds are edible, the stalks I use for the stock.

  • 2 garlic cloves – finely diced

  • 1 cup risotto rice, carnaroli is my favorite

  • 1 cup dry vermouth or white wine

  • 4 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley

  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method

Peel the prawns/shrimp, devein and set aside in the fridge. I usually chop half of the prawns in half and leave the rest whole.  

Boil in stock, in a saucepan place prawn heads and shell in the water, add tough outer leaves and stalks of the fennel.  Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 10 mins. Turn off heat but leave on the stove covered, this is your stock.

In a heavy based saucepan, over medium heat, add butter, olive oil, onion and cook until onion is soft but not brown.

Add fennel and garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 mins stirring often so it doesn’t stick, until soft but not brown.

Add rice and stir to coat grains, cook for 1 min.

Add vermouth or white wine and let the alcohol bubble off for 1 min. 

Add 2 ladlefuls of stock, stir in, turn heat so it simmers, stir every few minutes.  When stock is absorbed add 1 more ladleful and repeat the process. 

Continue like this for about 20 mins or until rice is al dente and you have added about 3/4 of the liquid and the texture is slightly creamy. You want the liquid absorbed after each ladleful is added, then you add another, you don’t want lots of excess liquid at any point. 

After 15 mins of cooking taste a grain or two of rice every few minutes to check progress so when the rice is al dente to your liking you will know!

Add the prawns and 1 small ladle of stock and peas or asparagus if you are using, when the rice is al dente. Stir very gently until prawns are cooked through about 2mins. Rice should still retain a tiny little bite = al dente!

Taste and season with salt and pepper, stir in parsley.

Serve in bistro style bowls if you have them, and garnish with the fennel fronds you saved.  I sometimes pan sear a few prawns separately to garnish the dish if I want to create an attractive presentation.

Recipe adapted from Sophie Braimbridge. She wrote a great cookbook Simply Italian, its the real deal!.