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Creamy and lemony

The rituals of making a risotto from scratch can put off home cooks but the rewards are many. On a cold winter’s night, Mary-Jane Richmond tackles shrimp and lemon risotto . . .

The addition of shrimp and lemon risotto to the menu in my house owes everything to my sister, who is a better cook than I will ever be. For a start, she really likes cooking, which I think is her secret.

Dinners are always a treat when I visit — what delicious dish will she have prepared this time?

One night last year this was the meal she brought to the table — a flavoursome risotto with plump shrimps and a good dose of lemon.

Some weeks later, back home in Gisborne and unable to think of anything for dinner that night, this came to mind.

Turns out there are any number of recipes online. Jamie Oliver suggests a basic risotto recipe you can add different ingredients to but I generally find each particular risotto — mushroom, spinach, pumpkin, even bolognese — is particular in its own way and that’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all.

So here is my version of my sister’s shrimp and lemon risotto.



2 tblspns butter or olive oil

One onion finely chopped

1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice

Zest of one lemon

1 cup frozen shrimps, thawed

1.25 litres chicken or vegetable stock, heated

1/2 cup white wine

50g Parmesan cheese


In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan melt the butter, or heat the olive oil, over a low temperature.

Add the onions and cook slowly until they become translucent.

Add the rice and stir it so it becomes lightly coated in the butter/oil.

Add the wine and zest and keep stirring while the rice absorbs the liquid and the alcohol evaporates.

Now start adding the stock a few ladlesful at a time, stirring all the while.

Here is where you will see the magic of risotto. The fat grains of rice start to release their starch and plump up.

Keep adding the stock as the rice absorbs it.

After about 15-20 minutes taste the rice to see if it is cooked. If there’s still a crunch to the grains, it will need a little more time.

Add the shrimps and stir them into the mixture.

About now I sometimes put the lid on, turn the element to low and let it do its own thing. But you still need to keep an eye on the mixture to make sure it doesn’t dry out.

The aim is for a creamy texture. Some aficionados say it should lap the side of the bowl in which you are to serve it.

Taste for seasoning. You might like to add lemon juice. Or other seafood. Or peas. All will work.

Before serving, stir through grated Parmesan cheese.

Garnish with Italian parsley and serve with extra Parmesan.

Shrimp risotto, garnished with fresh parsley.