Having a simple risotto recipe to turn to is never a bad thing. This recipe is thanks to my husband Phil, who has perfected it over the years. It’s rich and creamy and there is just enough lemon and tarragon to still allow the delicate crab flavour to dominate. This is a recipe you really must try. Serve with My Favourite Tomato Salad (page 149), and a nice chilled crisp white wine, and you’ve restaurant-quality food in your own home.
- 40g/11⁄2 oz butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1banana (large) shallot or 2 standard shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
- 150g/51⁄2 oz asparagus
- 1 litre/13⁄4 pints/
- 4 cups fish stock
- 300g/101⁄2 oz risotto rice
- 100ml/31⁄2 oz/scant
- 1⁄2 cup vermouth
- 150g/51⁄2 oz white crab meat
- 60g/2 oz mascarpone cheese
- 2 tsp chopped tarragon
- finely grated zest and juice of 1⁄2 lemon
- flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper extra
- virgin olive oil, to drizzle
time taken 35 minutes Serves 4
Heat half of the butter and the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallot and celery and gently sauté for 6–7 minutes, until they are tender but not coloured.
Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cut the asparagus into approximately 1cm/1⁄2 inch pieces, and blanch in the boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Put the fish stock in a saucepan and keep hot over a low heat.
Add the risotto rice to the frying pan. Stir around until it is all coated with oil. Pour in the vermouth. Allow to boil until it has almost disappeared. Add a ladleful of the fish stock and stir until it is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, waiting until it is absorbed until you add the next, stirring almost continuously.
When almost all of the stock has been used and the rice is almost cooked but still retains a little bite, stir in the crab, mascarpone, tarragon, lemon juice and the remaining butter, and season with salt and pepper.
Stir for 1 minute to heat the crab through.
Remove from the heat, and cover with a lid or baking sheet for 2 minutes.
Spoon into bowls and scatter over lemon zest, add a twist of pepper and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Since the crab is only added at the end it is really easy to switch things around with this risotto. 250g/9 oz of cooked crayfish, diced lobster tails or cooked prawns are all favourites of mine which work well with the lemon, tarragon and asparagus in the risotto. For a vegetarian version, I’ll stir through 200g/7 oz diced goat’s cheese towards the end.
Images and recipes from The Flexible Pescatarian by Jo Pratt, photography by Susan Bell, Quarto, RRP $39.99’.