Seafood Risotto is one of my favourite risotti! And in this post, I’m going to show you how to cook it like a boss!
We’re going to cook seafood risotto from scratch. No shop bought fish stock. No precooked seafood (that’s just gross, anyway).
If you’re looking for a quickie, just keep on reading, I give you that option too!
Now, as always with our risotto recipes, before we go any further, I suggest you head on over to the Basic Risotto article here on LinsFood. It’s full of everything you need, to master the art of cooking risotto.
On the basic risotto post, we talk about:
- the history of risotto
- risotto rice
- risotto stock
- risotto science (!)
- fat for risotto
- stirring or no stirring
- mantecatura – the art of creaming with the addition of fat (butter, olive oil, cheese), how we finish cooking risotto
In other words, everything you ever wanted to know about risotto. But were too afraid to ask!
Seafood Risotto Recipe
If you look for a risotto recipe, you’ll find various types of recipes out there. Some are super simple, using shop bought stock and frozen seafood, while others, talk you through making seafood risotto from scratch. Like ours today.
Some recipes incorporate a little saffron which turns the rice into a beautiful golden colour, while others, and this is very common, add tomato paste to their seafood risotto.
And yet many more recipes, like our seafood risotto today, keep the flavour of the rice pure, letting the seafood steal the show and imparting its flavours of the sea to the risotto.
How do you make Seafood Risotto from Scratch?
It is slightly more involved than throwing in frozen seafood and shop bought stock, but let me break it down for you, and you’ll see just how doable it is.
ps: The amount and ratio of seafood here is just an estimate. Feel free to use more or less of any of the seafood according to what is available and what you like.
You have a few options, after making the 25-minute fish stock:
- Go all the way by using shellfish and prawns (shrimps) and adding the shells to the fish stock you’ll be making.
- Use prepared mussels and clams (without shells) and just enhance the fish stock with the prawn (shrimp) shells.
- Alright, let’s make it even easier and use prepared seafood completely, and just use the fish stock you made from scratch.
But for the love of Neptune, please do not ever, EVER use shop bought, precooked seafood!
Because, it’s deader than the Dodo.
It’s lost all its flavour that you want in your risotto. Or whatever dish you’re making. You might as well be adding cardboard cutouts of the seafood.
Precooked seafood that’s been chilled, is not only flavourless when cooked a second time, but it all feels cottony and just dissolves into a tasteless mush in your mouth. Total yucks!
It’s different when you do it yourself just as you are cooking a recipe. Here, we will be using the liquor from the mussels and shells, and they will also be freshly cooked and just added to the risotto. Not chilled and cooked again.
However, lobsters and crabs are a different matter. They tend to hold their flavour amazingly after being cooked. Even when they are cooked and frozen. This is especially true with lobsters.
Can’t find fresh seafood?
Then use raw, frozen seafood. Whatever you can find, whether it’s prawns (shrimps), fish or shellfish. As long as it’s raw, and not precooked.
So how do we cook our Seafood Risotto from Scratch?
1. We start with making some fish stock with fish bones
This only takes 25 minutes of cooking time, by the way.
If you don’t happen to have a friendly neighbourhood fishmonger, throw in a whole fish or 2, complete with their bones, fins and head (cleaned and gutted though).
2. We shell and clean our prawns
As soon as you put the fish stock on, you move on to the prawns and add their shells and cleaned heads to the fish stock. You shouldn’t need more than 10 minutes to clean your prawns, which will give the shells 15 minutes in the simmering fish stock, turning it into a seafood stock.
If you have a whole lot of prawns, then don’t start the fish stock until you’ve done all the prawns. Because the fish stock will be simmering away for too long, making it bitter.
3. We clean our mussels and clams and pre cook them, if using
We will be adding the liquor (cooked liquid) from our shellfish to our finished and strained fish stock. The clams and mussels are given the briefest of cooking times, 1-2 minutes, then added to the risotto towards the end.
In fact, I even add the shells after cooking to the fish stock. But you’ll have to strain again, naturally. I’ll leave that additional step to you. It’s a marginal difference, in terms of taste in the stock.
4. We start cooking the risotto rice
I follow pretty much the same recipe and method for the Basic Risotto. We leave out the butter, and we don’t add parmesan at the end, but we pretty much are going to use the risotto bianco (white risotto) recipe.
When the rice is almost done, we add the raw seafood and follow that with the mussels and clams.
Quick Seafood Risotto Recipe
Okay, okay, you twisted my arm! Until I do a quick post on it, this is how you would do it:
- Use good quality, ready made, shop bought fish or seafood stock.
- Use prepared seafood, whether fresh or frozen, just make sure it’s raw.
- Then follow the rest of the recipe, adding the seafood when we are adding the raw seafood here, in step 7.
Do you throw out Unopened Mussels and Clams?
Did you know it’s a myth that you should throw out unopened clams and mussels? It’s all about how the adductor muscles react to heat. Most of the time, they behave and relax. Sometimes they panic, freeze and remain shut. How to know if they’re edible? Prise open and sniff, because the nose always knows!
How to Clean Clams
If you are buying your fresh clams from a supermarket, chances are, they’ve already been soaked and cleaned of all that grit and sand. So you can skip this stage.
Otherwise, soak your clams for 30 minutes in cool water just before cooking. As the clams breathe they filter water and push salt water and sand out of their shells. Pour the water out, and scrub them clean.
How to Clean Mussels
Scrubbing them with a metal mesh is the best. If they have barnacles and such stuck on them, I use a small pairing knife to scrape them off.
Pull the mussel beard just before you plan to cook them. If you can’t get to the beard, you can just get rid of it after, when you are taking the meat out of the shell, after cooking.
Seafood and Cheese in Italian Cooking
Is a big no-no, for purists.
- Traditionally, the dairy producing areas are nowhere near the coastal fishing areas, and so never the twain did meet. Seafood was cooked with olive oil, with no hint of butter or cheese anywhere. And so it became gospel.
- Italians also insist that cheese will overpower the delicate and subtle flavours of seafood.
But as more and more younger Italian chefs and foodies emerge, that old rule is being bent in all different directions. To each his own, you experiment and let me know what you think.
Are you ready to go all the way?
Do what makes you comfortable, with regard to the fish stock and seafood. But at some point, I hope that you will challenge yourself and do this whole recipe from scratch.
Fish or seafood stock doesn’t take long to make at all, unlike the meat variety. And also unlike chicken or meat stock, fish and seafood stock is subtle and light.
It is simply amazing how different your seafood recipes taste when you take just that half an hour to make your own stock. Make it the day before and keep it in the fridge or make a big batch and freeze it in half cup (125ml) portions.
Shall we get our aprons on?
More Risotto Recipes
And if you fancy more risotto recipes like the ones above, you’ll find them on the Risotto Masterclass page.
♥ If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! 😉 Grazie! ♥
And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood
Seafood Risotto from Scratch (Risotto ai Frutti di Mare)
- 1 stockpot or large saucepan for the quick homemade fish stock
- 2 small saucepans for the shell fish
- medium saucepan for the risotto
- 1 kg fish bones and skin
- 1 large leek
- 1 large carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley
- 125 ml dry white wine (optional) skip, if you don't do alcohol
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 litres water
- 12-18 large prawns shrimps
- 500 g fresh mussels (in shell)
- 500 g clams (in shell)
- 125 ml dry white wine (or water)
- 200 g squid
- 3 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 350 g risotto rice, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
- 125 ml dry white wine skip if you don’t do alcohol
- salt as needed
- freshly ground black pepper
- small handful fresh parsley finely chopped
- some red chilli flakes optional
- Clean the fish bones of blood and place in a large saucepan or stockpot.
- Roughly chop up the leek, carrot and celery and place in the pot.
- Add everything else in and bring to a gentle boil on medium heat. Skim any scum that comes to the surface. Let’s move on to the prawns (shrimps).
- At the end of the 25 minutes, strain the stock, discarding all the cooked seafood.
- Shell the prawns, leaving the tails on. Clean the heads of all the gunge, rinse the shells and dump them into the fish stock.
- Devein the prawns by gently pulling the vein out through body opening at the head end. Set aside.
- Scrub the mussels and clams clean and place them into 2 separate small saucepans.
- Split the 1/2 glass of wine between the 2 saucepans, turn the heat on high, cover and cook for about 1-2 minutes, until the mussels and clams are cooked. The shells will all be opened when they are done, and it doesn’t take much time. Do not throw away the unopened clams and mussels, read the tip above.
- Strain the mussels and clams through a fine mesh sieve, saving the liquor (the liquid).
- Remove the meat from most of the mussels and clams, saving 3 shells of each for decorative purposes. Set aside until later.
- Clean and slice the squid into rings. Set aside.
Let’s Cook the Risotto
- Keep the finished and strained stock simmering on the hob on low heat. Same goes for shop bought stock, if that’s the route you’re taking.
- Heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil on low heat and sauté the onions for 3 minutes, stirring.
- Add the rice and coat with all that fat, stirring well. Toast the rice for 3 more minutes, until the edges turn translucent.
- Increase the heat to medium and pour in the wine plus 1/2 tsp of salt if you made your own stock. Stir, and leave to evaporate, stirring a little. Skip this step, if you don’t do alcohol.
- Add 1 cup of the simmering stock and stir gently. You can take a break, it doesn’t need to be round and round constantly, just regular stirring while the stock evaporates.
- When the stock has evaporated, add half a cup more of the stock, stir, and repeat this process for 12 minutes. The rice will almost be done at this stage.
- Add the raw prawns and squid, plus a ladle of the stock. Stir thoroughly and well, and let the seafood cook for 2 minutes, adding a ladle of stock if necessary.
- Tip in the mussels and clams (not the ones in the shell), with another ladle of stock, and stir once again, to complete cooking the rice, the prawns and squid and to heat through the mussels and clams. (Leftover stock can be cooled, then frozen).
- Check the seasoning, add more salt if necessary, and freshly ground black pepper.
- Take it off the heat, stir in the last Tbsp of olive oil vigorously. Top with the mussels and clams that were still in their shell, cover, and leave to rest for 2 minutes.
- Garnish with some finely chopped fresh parsley and red chilli flakes, and serve.