Prawn & Saffron Risotto

This is my favourite risotto hands down and the addition of these huge juicy prawns from Caught Online just took it to another level. Good quality prawns are not easy to find in Cape Town and I am often so disappointed with how the flesh falls to pieces when I am shelling them. These plump and juicy Argentinian prawns held their own and had a sweetness and texture like lobster! You could add calamari, mussels and fish too if you want to use less prawns and have a Seafood risotto – it would just take more prep to cook the mussels separately etc.. and then fold all together at the end.

How gorgeous are these prawns??

Shelling prawns is never going to be a swift and easy task… but it’s well worth it and the depth of flavour in the stock is what makes this risotto. Just make sure you ag the waste separately and put them in the bin outside your kitchen pronto!

Ingredients– serves 4 generously

1 Kg prawns, shell on

Stock ingredients

25 ml olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 medium carrot

1 celery stick

1 small onion

1 small leek

2 red chilli (optional)

1 tomato

Pinch of saffron

900ml/1½pt fish stock

For the risotto

50g unsalted butter

½ onion finely chopped

1 garlic clove

350g Arborio risotto rice

120ml dry white wine (you can use verjuice)

25g parmesan-

For the Prawns

20g melted butter,

1 tsp minced garlic,

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley


Peel the prawns, leaving one per person for decoration & reserve the shells for the stock, and set them aside.

To make the stock, heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic, carrot, celery, onion, leek and chilli. Fry for 5 minutes. Add the reserved prawn shells and cook for another couple of minutes then add the tomato, saffron and fish stock.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes then push through a sieve with the back of a ladle.

To make the risotto, melt the butter in a pan then add the onion and garlic and soften. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until well-coated with butter. Pour in the wine. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat and let the rice absorb all the liquid.

Return the pan to a medium heat and add the shellfish stock to the rice in three stages, allowing the liquid to be absorbed each time before adding the next amount. Stir continuously until the stock is almost completely absorbed. Add the parmesan.

While the risotto is cooking, brush the prawns with melted butter, 1 tsp finely minced garlic and 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped and grill for 3-4 minutes till cooked through. I leave a few whole as they look great when serving.

To serve, carefully mix the prawns into the risotto and serve with a trench of lemon and a crisp green salad.


As simple as all this sounds it’s quite a process so leave time for yourself. You could de-shell the prawns the day before and make the stock in advance but I personally feel it’s better fresh. Don’t use any other rice other than Arborio or another type of risotto rice – it wont turn out all creamy – which is what you want!

This is definitely weekend or holiday food so pour yourself a glass of wine and get some helping hands in the kitchen to make it with you!