Creamy risotto and plump juicy prawns / shrimp are a match made in heaven. You’d swear there’s a ton of cream in this, but there’s not a single drop. This is a great everyday Prawn Risotto that’s very low maintenance and easy, but a cut above basic risottos!
I have a friend who is scared of making risotto because she thinks it’s really hard. Scarred by all those Masterchef episodes where the nervous contestant presents their risotto to the judges and stands there awkwardly, sweating and shaking while the judges peer and prod at the dish before having a taste, chewing slowly with such serious looks on their faces you’d think they were trying to find a solution for World Peace.
Risotto is not hard, truly it’s not. I don’t get why they talk it up so much on reality cooking shows!
A Great Prawn Risotto Made Easy
What’s that you say? You don’t have homemade seafood stock in your freezer? 🤷🏻♀️
And Nagi says no! to basic supermarket fish stock.
What to do?? 🤔
We make a fond by searing prawns first. Fond is that brown stuff you get in the pan when you sear things. It makes an amazing flavour base for sauces and broths. Especially seafood.
So this is why I sear the prawns first. A basic prawn risotto recipe will say to just toss raw prawns into the risotto right at the end. Yes that’s easier. But I promise you, the 4 minutes extra that it takes to sear the prawns is totally worth it!
Easy Risotto – Simmer, stir, simmer, stir
Here’s how simple it is to make Prawn Risotto – no standing over the stove for 20 minutes!
- Sear prawns, remove
- Saute onion + garlic, deglaze*, add rice, stir
- Add broth
- Simmer 5 minutes
- Simmer 2 minutes
- Add broth + milk (makes risotto white)
- Simmer 3 minutes
- Simmer 2 minutes
- Add parmesan and peas, stir
- Add prawns, stir. Serve!
* “Deglaze” is just the food tech term for dissolving the golden stuff on the bottom of the pan (called “fond”) into some kind of liquid (we use wine here) which then forms the flavour base for a sauce or broth.
LESS STIRRING / JUST AS CREAMY
Notice how I don’t have you standing over a hot stove for 20 minutes, constantly stirring and adding broth a ladleful at a time? Liquid is added in 2 batches, and you only need to stir every now and then.
This is the modern way to cook risotto. It yields the same creamy end result, but we don’t need to stir constantly because we’re making it in a large pot instead of a narrow tall risotto pot which is how it was traditionally made in Italy in the “olden days”.
This less stirring / just as creamy technique has been pretty well covered by trusted cooking authorities (America’s Test Kitchen, Cooks’ Illustrated, Serious Eats). Read more in this post – or just trust me when I say this risotto is as beautifully creamy!
What rice to use for risotto
Risotto needs to be made with risotto rice. It has a higher starch content which is what makes the creamy “sauce” without using cream.
There’s a few varieties but the most common at supermarkets is Arborio which is what I use.
I know I’m really reinforcing how easy this Prawn Risotto, but easy doesn’t mean bland or dull. I proudly serve this up when I’m cooking to impress.
It is not just another basic risotto, I promise you that, even though it’s simple to make. The searing of the prawns really gives it that extra “restauranty” edge without making a homemade seafood broth.
Oh and PS, I use frozen prawns. Because this is an everyday recipe, and I like using a generous amount of prawns. Obviously feel free to use fresh – and I applaud you!– Nagi x
- 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
- 400 – 500g / 14 oz – 1 lb prawns/shrimp, raw, peeled (Note 1)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp / 20g butter
- 1/2 onion , finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/3 cup / 85 ml dry white wine (or water)
- 1 1/2 cups / 270g risotto rice (Arborio rice) (Note 2)
- 3 cups / 750ml chicken broth , low sodium, at room temp
- 1 cup / 250 ml milk , room temp (full or low fat)
- 1 cup / 150g frozen peas , thawed
- 1/3 cup / 40 g grated parmesan
- 1 – 2 tbsp / 15 – 30g Extra Butter
- Grated parmesan
- Finely chopped parsley (optional)
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large heavy based pot over medium high heat. Spread half the prawns in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 ½ minutes, then turn and cook the other side for 1 minute. Remove into bowl.
Add a touch more oil and repeat with remaining prawns. Set aside and keep warm.
Turn heat down to medium. Melt butter in pot then add onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes until translucent.
Add wine, and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to mix the brown bits from the prawn into the liquid. Bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes until harsh alcohol smell is gone.
Add rice and stir for 30 seconds until rice is translucent on edges.
Add about 2/3 of the chicken broth. Stir, bring to simmer. Adjust heat so it’s simmering gently.
Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir, then simmer for a further 2 minutes until broth is mostly absorbed and rice is visible on the surface (see video and photos).
Add remaining broth and milk. Stir, simmer for 3 minutes. Stir, simmer for 2 minutes.
Risotto should be soupy and rice still a tiny bit undercooked.
Add peas and parmesan, quickly stir.
Taste, then add salt and pepper, then quickly stir.
Add Extra Butter, then stir vigorously for 10 seconds (this is the step that makes it very creamy).
Lastly, gently stir through prawns (tip in any juices too).
Remove risotto from heat, it should be porridge-like. (Note 3, see video) To loosen, add hot tap water 2 tbsp at time and stir through.
Give it a good final stir just before serving. Then ladle into bowls (it should ooze a bit, not be sticky lump). Garnish with parmesan and parsley if desired.
1. I use thawed frozen prawns for this recipe. Thaw completely, drain excess water, roughly pat dry. To use fresh prawns, you’ll need about 750 – 800g / 1.5 – 1.6lb whole prawns to yield 500g/1lb peeled prawns.
2. Risotto needs to be made with risotto rice (Arborio rice) because it’s extra starchy and this is what makes risotto beautifully creamy without the use of cream.
3. Risotto consistency: Take it off the stove while it’s still soupier than you want on the plate because rice continues to absorb liquid. It should be creamy such that it doesn’t hold it’s form when served, it should slump and sort of “ooze”. The extent of the ooze factor comes down to personal taste – most high end and traditional Italian restaurants serve risotto that looks almost like soup (spreads out on plate). I like mine kind of like porridge.
4. General notes:
a) Constant stirring, ladling in hot broth gradually: This traditional method we know for making risotto was born from the days when risotto was made in tall narrow risotto pots which required liquid to be added gradually and stirred constantly to ensure the rice cooked evenly. If you use a wide pot, add broth in 2 lots, stir a handful of times and stir vigorously at the end (recipe step 13), the risotto still comes out beautifully creamy and the rice perfectly cooked. More info in post!
b) Strictly speaking, parmesan is not used for seafood pastas in Italy except as a seasoning in the dish. But how can anyone dispute how well parmesan goes with creamy risotto and juicy plump prawns??!!
5. Leftovers: If you follow the cook times accurately in this recipe then leftovers will reheat pretty well because I don't let the rice get too soft, it is al dente. So refrigerate leftovers, then reheat in the microwave and stir through a touch of water to loosen it up and it will still be super tasty the next day. The rice will be a bit softer than ideal but still very good.
If you want to be more technical, as soon as you take the risotto off the stove, spread the risotto you want to save on a tray to let it cool rapidly, then scrape in a container and refrigerate. This will make the risotto slightly "better" when reheated. I only did this to give it a go - and it works. But I don't do this in real life. 🙂
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
LIFE OF DOZER
My mother was minding Dozer while I was in the States at the Everything Food Conference. In an attempt to keep Dozer entertained while confined to a play pen due to his ACL injury, my mother made him a woollen ball. She emailed me these photos and was rather miffed that that she’d gone to all that effort and “he only played with it for a minute”
I got no response when I responded “that’s because he’s not a CAT!!!” 😂