I like Jamie Oliver for two reasons. He is a Taurean like me, and he is the most non-hassle chef I have seen. Maybe that’s two good reasons to have two of his bestselling cookbooks in my collection. Though I bought neither.
Its on page 143 of this book, The Naked Chef Takes Off, that I saw this very easy Shrimp and Pea Risotto, with Basil and Mint, two of my favorite herbs. I knew this was my passport to Italy.
However, I did not copy Jamie’s recipe to the core. I admit I made minor adjustments to it to suit my very Indian palate. Instead of cooking the shrimp with the rice, I used a homemade Creole seasoning to marinade the shrimps just to add a little versatility to my Risotto.
Ingredients for the Shrimp and Pea Risotto with Basil and Mint are:
1 and a half cups medium grain rice, I used Arborio
1 liter chicken broth
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-4 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped cup of shelled green peas
500 grams shrimp, shelled and deveined
Few basil leaves, finely chopped
Few mint leaves, finely chopped
Juice of half lemon
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese (optional)
For the Creole seasoning:
Half tablespoon onion powder
Half tablespoon garlic powder
Half teaspoon paprika powder
Half teaspoon cayenne pepper
Half teaspoon black pepper powder
Half teaspoon dried thyme
Half teaspoon dried oregano
Quarter cup of cooking wine for cooking
Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth.
In a pan, heat olive oil and fry the garlic and onion till they are pink. Add the rice and fry it for a few minutes on simmerish heat. The rice will start turning translucent. Add half the peas and mix well with the rice.
Add your first ladle of hot chicken broth and a generous pinch of salt at this time, stirring continuously.
Turn the heat down to low and cook the rice. Keep adding ladlefuls of the broth and stir continuously. Let each ladle of broth get absorbed by the rice before you add more.
It takes about 15 minutes for the rice to cook in the chicken broth. It will be soft but retain its al dente texture. Add the remaining peas and stir again. In the last stages of the risotto, you will notice a creamy texture to the rice because of all the starch it has released. Check the seasoning.
Turn the heat off and add the freshly chopped herbs and lemon juice. Mix again. You can add the grated parmesan if you want after you have stopped cooking the risotto.
The Shrimp with the Creole seasoning which essentially is the topping for this risotto has to be cooked simultaneously.
Heat butter in a pan and add the marinated shrimps. Add a little cooking wine or dry white wine to add a whole lot of flavor to the shrimps.
Let the wine evaporate. Add salt to taste.
Top the Risotto with the spicy shrimps and serve immediately. Its best to eat the Risotto as soon as possible to enjoy its perfect texture and creaminess.