King prawn orzo risotto
- 6 raw shell-on king prawns
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 100g/3½oz orzo pasta
- 100ml/3½fl oz white wine
- ½ x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- ½ tsp caster sugar
- 40g/1½oz butter
- 40g/1½oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
- ½ small lemon, finely grated zest and juice only
- small handful fresh basil or tarragon, leaves finely shredded, plus extra to garnish
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Take one of the prawns and remove its head, then peel off the legs and shell from the underside. Remove the tail end by squeezing and pulling away from the body. Put the prawn heads and shells in a medium saucepan.
Cover the heads and shells with 750ml/1⅓ pint cold water and place over a medium-high heat. Simmer for 15 minutes to make a simple stock – don’t cook for over 20 minutes as the stock will begin to taste bitter.
Make a shallow cut down the back of each peeled prawn and, using the tip of a knife, remove the dark vein and discard. Rinse the prawns in cold water, then drain well, slice thickly and set aside.
After the stock has been simmering for 10 minutes, heat the oil in a medium, non-stick saucepan. Fry the onion gently for 4 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds more, stirring.
Add the orzo and cook, stirring constantly for 1–2 minutes, or until it is very glossy and beginning to crackle – this will prevent it becoming mushy later on. Pour the wine into the pan and simmer for about 1 minute, or until well reduced, then add the tomatoes and sugar and simmer for 2 minutes more, or until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring constantly.
Strain the prawn stock through a sieve and into a clean pan. You should end up with around 450ml/16fl oz liquid. Warm through gently over a very low heat.
Add the stock to the orzo, a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently. Only add more when the pasta has absorbed the liquid. You will probably need around 350ml/12fl oz of the stock, but it will depend on the size of your pan.
When the orzo is softened, stir in the sliced prawns, butter and Parmesan. Season with salt and ground black pepper and the lemon zest and juice.
Cook for about 2 minutes more, stirring, or until the risotto is thick and creamy. Stir in the fresh herbs, divide between two warmed shallow bowls and top with extra Parmesan and herbs to serve.
For an extra-special finish, pan-fry two more whole king prawns in a little oil, until pink throughout and serve on top of the risotto.