Alaska Spot Shrimp, Saffron Pea Risotto
Alaska Spot Shrimp are special, sweet, and succulent. And if cooked correctly, they are luscious and much more tender than the common variety. So if you serve these beauties of the Pacific, you might consider making them the star of the dish: front and center. You can bury them under a rich creamy sauce or a spicy salsa and they would be great, but you just might be covering up a best kept Alaskan secret…Spot Shrimp.
They are truly Southeast Alaska’s hidden gem. Not only one of the world’s most responsibly harvested shrimp—caught in pots by small-scale fishermen—they’re also a gastronomic treasure (from Sitka Salmon Shares here).
With their slightly briny hint of the sea, spot shrimp taste like a sweet-buttery cross between lobster and Dungeness crab. Seafood lovers will swoon.
Alaska Spot Shrimp Recipe
- 6 c. shrimp stock/broth (see below)
- 1/2 t. saffron threads
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1/2 c. finely chopped shallot
- 1 1/2 c. arborio rice
- 1/2 c. dry white wine
- 1/3 c. parmesan, grated – plus more for serving
- salt and pepper to taste
- dill and mint
In one pot, bring shrimp broth to a simmer. In another heavy-bottomed sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook until it becomes a very light golden color. Add rice and stir to coat all the grains. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Then turn down the heat and add the broth, one ladle at a time, constantly stirring as the rice absorbs the liquid.
Meanwhile, pour 1/2 cup of hot broth over the saffron in a small bowl, and let stand while cooking the risotto.
When the rice is almost al dente (about 5 minutes before it is done), add the saffron with broth. Continue to cook until tender and creamy. Remove from heat. Fold in grated Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
This risotto should be served all’onda (like a wave), just loose enough to undulate like the sea when the pot is shaken. Add a bit more broth if necessary just before serving.
- 6 c. water
- shells from 1 lb. spot shrimp
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery, chopped
- 2 garlic, smashed
- 3 scallions, chopped
- handful parsley
- bay leaf
- 1 t. salt
- 1/2 t. black peppercorns
Bring all ingredients to a boil then set to simmer for 45 minutes. Let cool slightly then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. (OK to add more water if needed, to make 6 cups for risotto).
- 10 oz. fresh english peas (alternatively frozen)
Steam peas over boiling water for 3 minutes. When risotto is done, gently stir peas into the risotto.
Note: Trader Joe’s carries fresh English peas. They are grown in Guatemala. With its variety of microclimates and proximity to the U.S., Guatemala has emerged as an ideal place to grow specialty produce and get it quickly to market, year-round.
Spot Shrimp (Pandalus platyceros)
Paired white spots located just behind the head and in front of the tail, on the first and fifth abdominal segments, give the spot shrimp its common name.
Just before ready to serve –
Sauté peeled, room temperature shrimp for one minute per side in butter. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle saffron pea risotto into warm shallow bowls.
Sprinkle Parmesan around the perimeter of the dish. Arrange shrimp around the middle. Garnish with dill and mint.
Risotto Milanese (saffron and bone marrow) here
Smoky Pumpkin Risotto with Burrata, Crumbled Fried Sage here
Lemon Risotto Balls with Edible Flower Confetti here
Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini here
Lobster and Shrimp with Saffron Sauce and Peanut Crumble here
Chicken Soup with Exotic Saffron Matzoh Balls here