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Shrimp Risotto

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Shrimp Risotto with Halibut Cheeks

Shrimp Risotto with Halibut Cheeks

Hank Shaw
This shrimp risotto recipe relies on fresh herbs and a good seafood stock to carry its flavors. It's light, yet substantial enough for a main course. I use pre-marinated shrimp and premade stock for this risotto recipe, which makes it a lot easier. For a special occasion, you can pile up the risotto and serve something nice on top, such as caviar or, as the picture shows, halibut cheeks.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


  • 1 cup risotto rice, arborio or carnaroli
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Shrimp or fish stock (you can substitute chicken stock)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cooked shrimp
  • 1 T finely chopped dill or fennel fronds
  • 1 T finely chopped chives or the green parts of scallions
  • 2 finely chopped shallots
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Salt


In a heavy, medium-sized pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until it's good and hot. Add the chopped shallot and stir with a wooden spoon to cook without browning for another 3-4 minutes.

Add the uncooked rice and stir well with the wooden spoon. Coat the rice with the oil and shallot mixture and saute for a minute or two.

Sprinkle about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt over it all, then add the white wine and stir well. It will sputter at first, then settle into a good solid boil. Stir well.

When the wine is almost cooked away, start adding the seafood, fish or chicken stock. Ideally you would use shrimp stock, but the key here is to add flavor. Begin by adding about a 1/2 cup of stock, and stir it well to combine.

You are now in the risotto-making process. Risotto differs from normal rice dishes in that you never cover the pot, and you add liquid bit by bit, stirring often, until the rice is cooked but still a little al dente. You do not want it to be mushy, and you want to stir often with a wooden spoon so you scrape off (gently) some of the starch around the rice to make a creamy sauce -- that's why you need to use short or medium-grain risotto rice, which has this starch. Long-grain rice does not.

So keep adding fish stock until your risotto is nearly done. Sometimes it takes a quart, sometimes less. If you run out, use water.

Once you have the rice at a good consistency, turn the heat down to medium, add a touch more liquid (about 2 tablespoons), and then add the shrimp, the lemon zest and all but a about a teaspoon of the dill and chives. Stir well to combine.

To serve, either pile it free-form on the plate or pack it into a circle mold. Top with the remaining chopped herbs.

If you do the circle mold trick, I'd suggest topping the risotto with some delicacy, such as caviar or the sauteed cheeks from a cod or halibut or large striped bass. You could also put a whole shrimp on there or a shelled crab or lobster claw. Use your imagination!

Serve this with a full-bodied white wine, such as a Spanish Albarino, a Chardonnay or an Italian Grillo.

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