Seafood Risotto, inspired by Venice

This is one of the fastest risottos in my repertoire. It’s made with no stock and the ingredients can be thrown in straight from the freezer. What makes this risotto “Venetian” is the addition of spices, which is a rather loose definition, but without doubt an identifying factor of the risottos from this region. In my recipe, there are no defined spices. I use the flavours that I know work well together to create a subtle yet flavoursome base. This removes the requirement to use a stock of any kind, either in liquid or stock cube form.  And the bonus of this is that is always makes the risotto gluten free.



Serves 2

Prawns (or a frozen seafood mix pack)
Finely chopped onion, carrot and celery (1 small onion, then about half a carrot and a small stick of celery)
1 x clove of garlic, crushed
Arborio / Carnaroli rice (any rice you would normally use for risotto). To measure this, I cup my hand and pour the rice in, adding around a handful of uncooked rice per person.
1 x small glass of white wine
Variety of spices: I used a very small sprinkle each of allspice, curry powder, chilli flakes, 1 crushed cardamom pod and pepper (about the tip of a teaspoon of each)
Hot water from pre-boiled kettle
A knob of butter
A good grating of parmesan cheese (around 40g)
Olive oil



Over medium-low heat, pour a little oil in the pan and add the finely chopped onions, carrots and celery with a little salt. Crush a clove of garlic into the mix. Gently cook so the vegetables do not colour, about 5 minutes.  Once they are soft, add the spices. Stir it all around then add the rice. I then stir the rice so it is all coated with the all the flavourings from the pan. Turn the heat up high and add the glass of wine. It should sizzle in the pan, then start to absorb into the rice. Once the wine is absorbed, start to add the hot water. Boil the jug in advance so you have it sitting next to the stove. This way you can add water whenever it is required. The basic logic is to add enough water so the liquid is just sitting above the rice each time, then as it absorbs, add more.  It normally takes about 15-20 minutes for the rice to absorb the necessary amount of liquid required to cook it through. You’ll know the rice cooked when you taste it – the grains should not be hard, but it will have a little bite to it just before the stage where you know the rice is about to go very soft.

Just before the rice is done, add the prawns / seafood mix which will cook in the remaining liquid.  You can add them straight from frozen which is very convenient.  The seafood is added at the very end because you only want to cook it until just cooked through. Otherwise the prawns, the squid, the scallops, whatever seafood you use, will go tough. Once the rice and seafood is cooked and there is still a small amount of liquid in the pan, take the pan off the heat and stir through a knob of butter and then grate some parmesan cheese through.  The parmesan will bind the risotto together. I like to leave the consistency a little wet before adding the cheese, otherwise it gets a bit gluggy. Finish with some salt and pepper.

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