At Trattoria da Gemma in Amalfithis light and delicate lemon risotto is served with raw prawns that are split and laid on top of the rice to cook in the heat of the flattened risotto.
The perfectly cooked grains of rice remained separate yet melted in my mouth. I have used a clear, light vegetable stock so that the taste of the lemon can shine through.
16 tiger or 8 jumbo raw prawns, unpeeled and with heads
1.2 litres Vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
300g carnaroli or vialone nano rice
100ml white wine
1 lemon, finely grated zest and juiced, (to taste)
1. Peel the shells off the prawns and remove the heads and tails. Reserve half the heads for the risotto and freeze the remaining heads along with the shells and tails for seafood stock.
2. Split the prawns open by running the blade of a sharp knife along the back and remove the long black intestinal tract. If you can’t see one don’t worry – it means the tract is empty. Slice half the prawns into very thin, long slivers. Refrigerate these for later. Cut the remaining prawns into 3 and refrigerate.
3. Warm the stock on a low heat. Heat the oil and half the butter in a pan and so¬ften the onion and garlic. Season and stir in the prawn heads and half the parsley. Cook until the heads turn pink and start to stick to the bottom of the pan.
4. Add the rice and stir through to coat the grains in oil. When the rice starts to sizzle, pour in the wine and stir constantly for about 4 minutes over a medium to high heat until it has reduced and then pour in a couple of ladlefuls of hot stock.
5. Keep stirring and only add more stock when the rice has absorbed the liquor and you can see the bottom of the pan. Add the lemon juice (to taste) to the pan and just a pinch of lemon zest.
6. After 15 minutes stir in the chopped prawns (not the slivers). Continue stirring and adding more stock until the rice grains turn from white to translucent. Taste the risotto and add more lemon zest and seasoning if necessary. Use a pair of tongs to pick out the prawn heads and garlic if you see it. Try the rice; it should be al dente.
7. Remove from the heat, leaving the risotto a little on the watery side as it will continue to absorb the liquor. Do not worry if you have not used all the stock, and if you run out simply use hot water. Stir in the remaining butter and parsley and ladle into warmed bowls. Lay out the reserved thin slivers of prawns over the hot risotto and serve immediately.