I was in Brighton this weekend, visiting my best friend Sarah. We met at university back in the mid-1990s when we were both studying law. She was always bold where I was shy and I think in some ways, this is why we are still good friends today: opposites attract. One thing we very much had in common was food, we talked about it constantly. Whether it was the breakfast in the student union, or the cod on bubble & squeak with Béarnaise sauce from The Griffin in Caversham, food was always high of the list of subjects to be discussed. Every evening, we’d ring each other to discuss the intricacies of our respective dinners whilst watching Eastenders simultaneously on the television.
University food was stodgy as it was potato and baked beans ‘heavy’ and thus not very refined. It fulfilled its purpose but I ensured I always cooked something a little more sophisticated for dinner. I will always remember the look on my flatmates’ faces when I made Chilli & Prawn risotto for the first time… Disbelief, followed by mild envy!
I have made this recipe ever since. It’s perfect on a rainy summer’s day: fresh and tasty with a hint of chilli to warm you up.
Chilli & Prawn Risotto
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
1 red chilli, chopped finely
200g Arborio risotto rice
4 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, with core & seeds removed and chopped roughly
150g King prawns
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt & Pepper
For the stock
550ml fish stock
180ml white wine
4 sprigs of parsley
First you need to peel the tomatoes. Boil water in a small pan, use a knife to score the tomatoes with a cross and put into the water for 30 to 60 seconds. You will see the skin starting to peel away. Wait till they cool down a little and then peel. Ensure you remove the core and the seeds, chop roughly.
Put all the ingredients for the stock into a pan and heat on a low setting.
Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat in a casserole dish or large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook until translucent. Do not burn or it will taste bitter!
Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until it smells nutty and the rice is well covered with the oil. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Cook for 2 mins.
Start adding the stock at regular intervals, stirring frequently so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. This will take about 20 mins and will ensure the rice is cooked through. Once the time is up, add the prawns & parsley, cook for a further 4 mins. Season & serve.
Makes 4 small servings ( or 2 large ones!).