Have you ever had a food epiphany?
Years ago I had a seafood risotto at a restaurant on the Grand Canal of Venice (back in the cushy days of business trips with expense accounts) that was so silky, so luscious, so creamy yet still light, I didn't know what hit me. I ate every grain with a stunned and happy look on my face and still remember that risotto more than what was inside St. Mark's.
Venetian-Style Seafood Risotto
Although I had no idea at the time, according to my friend Hank, seafood risottos are a specialty of Venice. There they are typically served all’onda, or “wave" risotto, which means a looser and almost soupy risotto best eaten with a spoon.
Hank and I spent the day cooking together and he showed me in great detail how he makes this Venetian-style shrimp risotto.
My father happened by in time for lunch and ate his bowl of shrimp risotto completely, proclaiming, "Hank, I don't like shrimp, and I don't like rice, but I love this." So there you have it.
What Shrimp to Buy for This Risotto Recipe
Use the smallest shrimp you can find. Try to find tiny pink shrimp in the supermarket’s freezer section. These “boreal” shrimp or Maine shrimp are uncommonly sweet and come pre-shelled and pre-cooked.
Any shrimp you find larger than the last digit on your little finger should be cut in half.
The Best Rice for Risotto
Risotto recipes require risotto rice, an Italian rice that has enough starch to help make the risotto's creamy sauce.
Arborio rice works for this purpose, but if you can get it, use a Carnaroli rice. Even better is a rice called Vialone Nano, which is more delicate and creamy than the other risotto rices and is well suited for this shrimp risotto.
Love Shrimp? Try These Recipes
- Shrimp Scampi
- Shrimp and Artichoke Pasta
- Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles and Lemon-Garlic Butter
- Shrimp Pasta alla Vodka
- Shrimp, Lemon, Spinach Linguine
Watching This Shrimp Risotto Recipe
8 ounces clam juice or fresh seafood stock
4 cups water
3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 cup risotto rice (Arborio or, if you can get it, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
1 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
2 cups (8 ounces) small pink shrimp, the smallest you can find
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Heat the clam juice and water:
Add the clam juice to 4 cups of water in a pot, heat until steamy. Do not let it boil.
Sauté the shallots:
In separate pot (thick-bottomed), heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, and sauté the minced shallots for 2-3 minutes, until just translucent.
Add the rice to the pot:
Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until all the grains are well-coated in butter and are beginning to toast.
Add the wine and stir:
Increase the heat to high and add the white wine. With a wooden spoon, stir the rice vigorously. Once the wine boils, turn the heat down until the wine is just simmering gently.
Stir almost constantly. You are doing this to agitate the rice, which releases its starch and creates the creamy sauce you want in a risotto.
Add the hot liquid bit by bit:
When the wine is almost cooked away – under no circumstances should you let the rice sizzle on the bottom of the pot – pour in 2 ladles of the hot clam broth/water mixture. Stir well to combine, and add a healthy pinch of salt.
Continue stirring, simmering, and adding ladlefuls of liquid:
Stirring almost constantly, let this liquid reduce until it is almost gone, then add another ladle of broth.
Continue this until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Taste the spoon and see if the risotto needs salt. If so, add a small pinch.
This much risotto rice should need about 4 to 5 cups of liquid total (including the wine) to come together, so start tasting the rice at the 3rd cup. If it is almost there – firm in the center but translucent on the outside, and fully surrounded with a creamy sauce – add one more cup of broth, stir well, and taste one more time for salt. (If not, you have old rice and you’ll need to go one more cup and let it cook away.)
Add the shrimp, parsley, and remaining butter:
Now add in the shrimp, parsley, and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Stir constantly until this last cup of broth you added is about half gone: Remember you want this risotto to be loose and creamy.
Right before you serve, add in the lemon zest and serve at once. Best served with bowls and spoons rather than plates and forks.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 20g||26%|
|Saturated Fat 12g||59%|
|Total Carbohydrate 40g||14%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 11mg||55%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|