Prawn risotto with samphire

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online


If you live on the coast you could theoretically get both main ingredients free, or at least buy them locally and cheaply. If, like me, you live inland in a city, you'll need to get in the car and drive, or ask a fishmonger nicely for them. Frozen raw prawns will do the job and you can use the shells for the stock. Alternatively, you could try using langoustines (Dublin Bay prawns) or lobster for this dish.

500g of prawns ­ fresh and live if possible ­ or frozen, raw tiger prawns
For the stock
shells from the prawns
half medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
half medium leek, roughly chopped and washed
half large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
10g unsalted butter
a pinch of saffron strands
a few sprigs of thyme
half tsp fennel seeds
5 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
15g tomato purée
75ml white wine
1litre fish stock (good quality cubes work well)
For the risotto
30g butter
200g carnaroli rice (arborio if not available)
500ml approximately of hot prawn stock
75g samphire, trimmed and washed
the cooked prawn meat
a few sprigs of tarragon, finely chopped
30g unsalted butter
15ml double cream

If you are using fresh prawns, cook them in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain them, let them cool, remove the heads and peel the tails. Put the meat in the fridge until you serve the risotto and keep the shells for the stock.

To make the stock, use a large saucepan and cook the prawn shells, onion, leek, carrot and garlic in the butter until lightly coloured. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour, skimming occasionally.

Strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve. The stock should have a strong flavour ­ if it does not, reduce until the flavour is concentrated. You should be left with about half a litre.

To make the risotto, take a thick-bottomed pan, melt the butter in it and add the rice. Stir with a wooden spoon for a minute or so on a low heat. Gradually add the stock a little at a time, stirring constantly and ensuring that each addition of liquid has been fully absorbed by the rice before adding the next.

Season with a little salt and pepper during cooking. The risotto should be of a moist consistency, and not too stodgy.

When the rice is almost cooked, add the samphire, the prawn meat and the tarragon. Stir well, cook for another minute or so, then add the butter and cream. Check the consistency and add more seasoning and stock if necessary. Serve.

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