JC’s Seafood Risotto

I just love risottos and this is one of my favourites. The trick with risotto is to adjust the cooking heat such that the stock, added gradually, is absorbed over a period of about 20 minutes to make sure that the rice is cooked.

This needs a mixture of seafoods; three different kinds is good. I like to get fresh and raw seafood whenever possible but you can do it with ready prepared stuff. Supermarkets now sell very reasonable frozen packs of mixed seafood if you are either in a hurry or stuck for fresh ingredents. Naturally with the fresh option more preparation time is required.

If using fresh mussels, clean and steam them before removing the meats from their shells. If I have fresh scallops with roe, I separate the roe so I can cut the scallop meats into two thinner discs. I use only quite small fresh squid; clean and cut the bodies into rings but leave the tentacles whole. Fresh whole prawns are great because you can use the heads and shells to make the seafood stock.


serves: 4
preparation time: 15 mins
cooking time: 45 mins


  • 100g butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 320g risotto rice, preferably Vialone Nano
  • 1 wineglass dry white vermouth
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded & finely chopped
  • 900mls – 1l seafood stock, very hot
  • ~600g mixed seafood (eg. prawns, mussels, scallops, squid), prepared
  • ~15g fresh basil leaves
  • Salt & pepper


Keep the stock hot in a separate pan ready to add to the risotto in batches. In your chosen risotto pan, melt half the butter over moderate heat. Reduce the heat to low, add the finely chopped onion, celery and garlic and fry gently for about 10 minutes to soften without colouring. Now add the rice; increase the heat slightly and, stirring constantly so as not to burn it, cook the rice for about 2 minutes when it should begin to look a little translucent. Toss in the vermouth and let the alcohol bubble off so the angels can have it. 🙂

Once the rice has absorbed the vermouth, start adding the stock, which should be very hot so as to keep the simmer going. Add the hot stock a ladle at a time. With the first ladelful, add the finely chopped tomatoes together with about half a teaspoon of salt and a good few grindings of black pepper. Adjust the heat so that the stock simmers and the rice does not cook too quickly. Stir the rice frequently to help release the starch and make the traditional creamy consistency of risotto. As each ladelful of stock is absorbed, add another and continue simmering and stirring.

The amount of stock required varies a little, maybe because of the rice but also depending upon the size of your wineglass and the tomatoes. You will learn to tell when not to add any more because it wont get absorbed. Don’t add it all if you don’t need it.

Add any raw seafood as you add the final ladelful of stock – the time taken to absorb the last stock will be sufficient to cook the seafood. Stir in any cooked seafood, together with the chopped/torn basil leaves, when the last of the stock is pretty much absorbed.

Finally stir in the remaining butter, adjust the seasoning, cover the pan with a lid and let it sit for two minutes. The resting both reheats the seafood and makes the risotto rich and silky.

Parmesan is traditionally NOT used with seafood risottos.

This really just needs a good leafy salad, appropriately dressed, for accompaniment.

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