More lemons today, and a wonderful way to lighten and brighten risotto. Love it as I do, I sometimes find the butter-cheese overload a bit much. Not often, I grant you, but enough to be interested by Asian-inspired versions like this. Bill Granger’s has no cheese but I didn’t miss it because the chilli and garlic prawns are a revelation with the lemony rice. Whole, fresh prawns might seem a bit of an extravagance but you don’t need many: I bought six for £2 and although, greedy guts that I am, I ate the lot, eight is probably enough for two people. And many supermarkets sell them fresh and frozen so they’re not difficult to find.
However, for lots of reasons you might want to find a substitute for the prawns. I kept wondering, as I cooked and ate them, ‘why don’t I eat prawns more often?’ They’re really fast, easy to freeze and packed with protein not fat. Then I remembered I’ve read lots of horror stories about how most of them are farmed full of hormones in far-flung countries like Indonesia or Thailand…hmm. If you, like me, are a bit bothered by this, the great thing about this recipe is that I’m sure it would be easy to swap in an alternative fish or seafood. Next time, for example, I might make it with some Scottish (more local non-farmed) squid from the cheap fishmonger down the road.
The risotto is good but if you have a favourite recipe for a basic one use that if you want, omitting the alcohol and the cheese at the end. And don’t worry if you have too much; there is no such thing as unwanted leftover risotto, as tomorrow’s recipe will reveal…
Citrus risotto with tiger prawns (adapted from Bill’s Open Kitchen)
For two you will need:
Cupboard or things you may already have
sea salt and black pepper
olive oil (about 25ml)
unsalted butter, 25g
chicken stock cube, made up to 500ml or 500ml fresh chicken stock (Mr Granger uses 750ml to 165g rice but I found this too sloppy so I’ve downsized a little)
arborio rice, 165g
small red chilli
8-10 large, raw tiger prawns, skins and tails on if you like (mine were denuded of both)
flat-leaf parsley, ½ tablespoon or so
1. Prep: peel and chop the onion, zest and juice half the lemon, snip the chilli into small pieces, peel and chop the garlic, rinse and roughly chop the parsley and season the prawns.
2. Put the garlic and chilli into a pestle and mortar, or small mini-chopper, and pound/blend to a paste. Leave to one side.
3. Put a dessertspoon of olive oil with 12g (also about a dessertpoon) of butter into a saucepan over a gentle heat and when the butter has melted, add the onion, a pinch of sea salt and soften.
4. While the onion is softening, if the stock is not already made up, put the cube into another saucepan, pour over 500ml of boiling water then place over a medium heat and bring it up to a gentle simmer. If you are using fresh stock just tip it in a pan and heat it up in the same way.
5. Once the onion is soft add the rice to the pan and stir until all the grains are covered in oil (about 1-2 minutes).
6. Add the stock to the onion and rice a little at a time, stirring all the time until each addition is absorbed. Repeat this process until either a) all the stock has been used up or, preferably, b) you have tested the rice and it is just tender. You may not need all the stock or you may need a tad more.
7. When the rice is done take it off the heat, and stir in another dessertspoon of butter, the lemon zest and 1 tablespoon juice and some pepper. Cover and leave on one side whilst you cook the prawns.
8. Put the remaining olive oil (about a tablespoon should be left) in a frying pan over a high heat and, when shimmering, add the prawns. Turn them often so that they become opaque and pink all over. They will cook frighteningly quickly (in about 2 minutes) so don’t overdo them.
9. Stir the chilli and garlic paste into the prawns and cook for about another minute. Off the heat add the parsley and mix in.
10. Serve the risotto with the chilli, garlic and parsley prawns on top and either cut the other lemon half into wedges to go with it or, since you will have some juice left over from the juiced half bring that to the table to spoon over the top.