Seafood Recipes

Seafood Risotto

June 20, 2008


“oohhh, I am so looking forward to your Fathers Day dinner” said Danika, with a rather cheeky smile on her face. Yep, that is right folks, I cooked my own Fathers Day dinner, and was bloody happy about it. Not that Danika isn’t a good cook – far from it, she is awesome, but it is just me and cooking. I obviously love it (who the heck would have a food blog if they didn’t!!!). Cooking, above anything else relaxes me. If I have had a tough day at work, I am, it has been said, not that fun to be around until I get into the kitchen.

I wanted relaxed food. Nothing that was going to take two hours.. heck, nothing that was going to take an hour even. It is fathers day for goodness sake, I wanted to make enough time to hang out with Drakey too. Bless the little bloke.

I got thinking about risotto, and that I had cooked one in blooming ages. For me, no “special Matt day” would be complete without seafood. Come to think of it, it would be complete without a trip to Mutual Fish, for said seafood. So, off I trot.

Well. Mutual and a ton of stuff. As usual. Some great looking Copper River Salmon, but I actually wasn’t in the mood for salmon, and wasn’t sure about it in a risotto. I wanted a mix. A lovely mix of seafood. Mussels have always been a long term favorite with me. Here in Seattle they are dirt cheap as well – about $3/lb for the best Penn Cove has to offer. So, they were a definite. Mutual is the BEST place I have found in Seattle for mussels. Avoid Whole Foods and PCC. Avoid anyone that throws fish too. General rule of thumb 🙂 They also had some great looking prawns there, so I snagged some of those. Now.. for a white fish….. hmm. Well, Monkfish tail would have been perfect, just perfect. Alas no monkfish tail. Bloody hell – they have Halibut cheeks! Job done. Job absolutely done.

OK – so a seafood risotto of halibut cheeks, prawns and mussels. Sounds like the perfect Fathers day dinner for me.

I am finding that saffron is just a complete pleasure with seafood – especially when you have a mix. It ain’t cheap, but a little goes a long way. Oh – top tip – get it at Trader Joes. Decent quality, with a low price tag.

So that is it really. It turned out to be a fantastic fathers day. Very mellow, hangng out with Danika and chasing the little lad Drake around.

And what was my fathers day present you ask? Well.. I guess Drake knows me rather well. It was the French Laundry cookbook, something I have had my eye on for a while. I have the awesome Bouchon book, and wanted the FL one too.

So – here it is. Happy, relaxed, informal, bloody good food. A simple seafood risotto.


Saffron seafood risotto – with halibut cheeks, mussels and prawns

4 halibut cheeks

20 mussels

10 prawns

1/2 cup Arborio rice

1/2 medium yellow onion – diced

2 celery stalks – diced

1 clove of garlic – chopped

a good pinch of saffron

1 large glass of dry white wine

1 small glass of dry white wine

1 quart of fish or chicken stock

olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

salt and pepper

1 small handful (total) of chopped fresh parsley and chives

Start by cleaning the mussels. Take one of those dish scratch pads, and clean all the crap off the outside of the shells. If the mussel has a beard sticking out of it’s shell, yank that off. Put the clean ones in a bowl, with a little ice to keep cold.

Put the halibut cheeks and prawns in a baking pan. Toss with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with some good sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. We are going to put these under the oven broiler to cook. They would be great on the grill, but impossible to keep an eye on, since the risotto needs a lot of attention. These won’t take long to cook – 6 minutes maybe, depending on your broiler.

Pour your stock into a saucepan, and put over a medium flame. We want to keep the stock hot. We are going to ladle this into the rice as it cooks. If it was cold, it would cool the rice down, and we would have to wait for it all to get back up to temperate.. A disaster.

In a large saute pan, get some olive oil hot. Gently saute the onions, celery and garlic until soft. Try not to add too much color to them. When soft, add in the rice and crank up the heat. Keep this moving. We are just slightly toasting the rice. Don’t let it get any strong color. This will take maybe a minute. Pour in the 1 large glass of white wine. Add the pinch of saffron. Just enjoy the smell 🙂

Keep stirring the rice. Once the wine has pretty much all be absorbed, add in a ladle of stock. Gently, oh so very gently, mix this around. Be gentle. Move the spoon slowly, almost teasing the starch out of the rice. When that ladle of stock has been absorbed, add another. Cary this on for at least 15 minutes. If you run out of stock, use some boiling water.

When the rice is starting to feel a bit softer, give it a taste. The perfect risotto still has some bite to it, but certainly isn’t undercooked. When the rice is done to your liking, turn off the heat from under it. Mix in the two tablespoons of butter (oh joy!). Cover the pan. We are going to just leave this alone to rest whilst we cook up the seafood.

Put the halibut and prawns under a medium/high broiler. Keep an eye on them. Flip them after a few minutes. They won’t take long to cook. The halibut is done when it flakes. The prawns are done when they are no longer translucent in the middle, and the outsides are pink.

To cook the mussels now. Take the ice out of the mussels and discard. In a medium saute pan, pour in the small glass of white wine, and get it boiling over a high heat. When it has reduced by half, toss in the mussels carefully, and cover the pan. These are going to take about 3 minutes to cook. After 3 minutes, peek in the pan to check them out. If they haven’t opened, put the lid back on, and give them a few.

When everything is done, mix the parsley and chives into the risotto. Spoon this into a deep plate, and top with all the lovely seafood. Save the biggest cheeks and prawns for yourself. You deserve it.

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  • Alex June 20, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Awesome. I am now re-thinking tonight’s menu…

    And how good are the Keller books? The ultimate food porn

  • matt wright June 20, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Hiya Alex
    The Keller books are bread unto themselves to be honest. A lot of people will hate them. This is about as far away from Rachel Ray (sorry.. not my favorite TV cook) as you can get. He is the master of attention to detail, and this really comes through in his book. Even a “quick” recipe from either the Bouchon or FL book is going to take an hour, if you are lucky.

    But, I love them. No other cookbook (bouchon) has taught me so much about process. When cooking from his books I end up learning a ton about good process, pairings, and why to do what. For me this is important. You don’t just get a recipe, you get an education.

    They are super fun for us detail orientated types too. With a busy life, and hungry family, I rarely cook from them unfortunately. One thing that does make them go a lot faster, is if you have a “building blocks night” every couple of weeks. Make a bunch of stocks, and freeze them. Make enough garlic confit and what-not to last a while. Then, these recipes go much faster. You read a simple Bouchon recipe, and think it is going to be fast.. then you realise you have to make a ton of the basic components, and suddenly you have an all day affair.

    They are the highest quality, most thought out, and best produced cookbooks I own. Some will call them a “coffee table book” – that is, they look great but you never really USE them.. Not for me.

  • Chris June 20, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    THANK YOU for talking a bit about the loving-to-cook, even on special days. I got a bunch of grief on a recent birthday where I wanted to spend the evening cooking for others. 🙂

  • Anticiplate June 20, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Mmm. I love me some Halibut cheeks:)

  • Chuck June 20, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    What a beautiful dish. Looks like it belongs in a 5 star restaurant. Just stunning!

  • Alex June 20, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Hey Matt,

    I totally agree. I’ve had the FL book for a while now and although I have only cooked a couple of actual dishes from it, I have found myself replicating processes or elements from them, occasionally without even realising it until afterwards. His knowledge, passion, enthusiasm and general love of food come across so very well. And it is a joy to read, as is, as well.

    Bouchon I have only has since Christmas and it’s been a busy few months but I’m hoping to at least try the roast chicken recipe before too long and I am desperate to cook a blanquette de veau as well.

    Happy cooking!

  • matt wright June 20, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    His roast chicken recipe is exceptional. His methods for roasting a bird are now my defacto standard. The big thing really is to get an amazing quality bird. I am not sure if a farmers market near you has poultry, but it is well worth using the absolute best pasture raised chicken.

    I think I will honestly get more use from Bouchon. It is more my kind of cookbook. I have always been more bistro than haute cuisine.

  • White On Rice Couple June 22, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I don’t expect anyone to be cooking for you on Fathers Day! For you, it must be a special treat, cooking on your special day.
    The mussels and saffron look like a great combo, especially when you get your quality saffron at TJ’s. Gotta love TJ’s!
    I agree with you on the Keller bookbooks. Bouchon is a culinary education right there. Every recipe is a lesson! Our books get used too, but we rarely write about it. We’re so focused on all the steps that we don’t take any pictures at all.

  • Syrie June 22, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Hi Matt, your blog is fabulous. I love single recipe and your photography is wonderful. I can’t wait to try out some of your recipes starting with the cod, clams and sea beans. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

  • Lynn Altpeter September 12, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Your recipe sounds like just the thing for tonight’s meal. I have bay scallops and nice shrimps on hand, but must go out and get some mussels since those seem too good to leave out of this. I live on a sort of off-the-beaten-track island and don’t have access to halibut cheeks, but they sound great.

    Thanks for the recipe!