the idea of this wesian (western + asian) dish was spawned one day while we were enjoying lunch at a cha chaan teng in sai kung. one of the specialty at this local cafe was the shrimp paste fried rice. half way through the plate, it dawned on us that we can recreate this dish at home, but with our own twist. and that twist is to combine the flavors of southeast asia with an italian method of cooking rice.
a good risotto is a labor of love… it requires constant attention. building a tasty stock is essential, because that is the major source of flavor for the rice. we used prawn heads and shells and fresh clams to create the stock. sure, you can use bottled clam juice, but the beauty with using fresh clams is that you get to eat the tiny morsels afterward. we grilled our prawns first before throwing the head and shell into the stock… this adds an extra element of smoke. but you can skip this part if you don’t wanna bother.
the amount below serves 3 people. that’s because the night we made it, priscilla’s dad was out of town so he didn’t get to enjoy this yummo creation… sorry! we’ll cook it again soon. we calculated that 1/2 cup of rice would be enough for 1 person.
water 2.5 liters
large prawns 6-8
clams 1 lb (1/2 kg)
fish sauce 2 tbsp
- in a pot, boil 2 .5 liters of water
- clean the clams, then add them to the pot, the clams are cooked when they fully open, about 3-4 min
- once cooked, fish them out with a hand strainer, put them aside
- peel the shrimp shells and rip off the heads, throw them into the pot (we grilled our shrimp first before peeling, this is optional)
- add 2 tbsp of fish sauce
- turn to medium heat, cover with a lid, then start on the risotto
arborio rice 1.5 cup
shrimp paste 1 tbsp
medium onion 1 diced
oil 2 tbsp
large scallops 3
- maintain the pot of seafood stock boiling under medium heat
- in a large pan, turn heat to medium-high, add the oil and onion and cook for a couple of minutes
- add all of the rice to the pan, this is where you begin to stir the rice constantly throughout the cooking process
- once the rice is lightly toasted, about 1-2 min, begin to ladle a scoop of stock into the pan
- continue to stir the rice, once the stock is gone and the pan is slightly dry, ladle another scoop of stock
- repeat the above process until the rice is nearly done
- add 1 tbsp of shrimp paste to the rice, mix well and continue to cook the rice until preferred doneness (doneness really depends on personal preference; some prefer it slightly al dente, while others like it fully cooked)
- in a separate pan, season and sear the scallops and prawns
- plate the risotto and add the prawns, clams, and scallops
we didn’t add white wine while cooking the risotto, but we’ll try it next time and see if that will brighten up the flavor.