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Seafood risotto is not the complicated dish you think it is

Rowena Dumlao-Giardina resides in Italy, cooking and photographing her family's interesting meals on Apron and Sneakers. After moving to Italy in 1999 from the Philippines, she has traveled extensively around the country and the rest of ...

Don't be intimidated by risotto — this impressive seafood version is easier than it looks

A little of everything from the fishmonger is always a good start to a delectable seafood risotto, but if you want to keep things a little simpler, you can minimize the variety to two or three of your favorite kinds.

But don't skip the shellfish — it adds a lot to the flavor of the dish. Mussels, clams or both are great, along with some squid or shrimp and whitefish if you can get them. You don't need to use a lot, just enough to give the proper flavor to the risotto.

Although risotto has a reputation for being a complicated dish, it's really not. Just remember that a good seafood risotto depends on a little patience, the freshness of your ingredients, the proper rice and the extra-virgin olive oil that you drizzle afterward. Buon appetito!

Don't be intimidated by risotto — this impressive seafood version is easier than it looks
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

Seafood risotto recipe

Feel free to substitute the types of seafood depending on what you like and what's available.

Serves 4

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 45 minutes | Total time: 1 hour


  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound shellfish (like mussels, clams or both), purged

  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

  • 1/2 pound shrimp, squid (sliced into rings) or both

  • 1/2 pound whitefish fillet (like red mullet, bream, cod or similar), diced big

  • 1 cup dry white wine
, divided
  • 1/3 cup passata di pomodoro or tomato sauce

  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped

  • 1-3/4 cups rice for risotto (like carnaroli, Vialone Nano or Arborio
  • 2 – 3 cups hot fish broth (store-bought or homemade)

  • Salt, to taste

  • Pepper, to taste

  • Fresh parsley, coarsely chopped


  1. In a medium saucepan with extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat, sauté the shellfish until they open, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat, and separate the shellfish from the liquid. You can also separate 1/2 of the shellfish from the shells, leaving some for garnish. Pass the liquid through a sieve to get rid of the sediments. Discard them, and save the broth.
  2. In the same saucepan over medium heat, add more olive oil. Sauté the garlic until fragrant. Cook the squid for 3 minutes, then add the shrimp and fish. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add 1/2 the white wine. Let it evaporate. Add the tomato sauce. When it is almost reduced, turn off the heat, and set aside.
  3. To prepare the risotto, in a large pot with olive oil over low-medium heat, sauté the onion. When it turns transparent, about 1 minute, add the rice, and cook for 2 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium, and add the remaining white wine. When it has evaporated, add the broth of the shellfish and 1/2 the hot fish broth, and simmer until it boils. Stir frequently, and gradually continue adding the remaining fish broth if needed.
  4. When the risotto has been cooking for about 15 minutes, add the cooked squid, shrimp, fish and shellfish. Let it cook for another 4 minutes or until the risotto becomes creamy. Adjust the taste by adding salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the parsley. Turn off the heat, and let it rest for a couple of minutes.
  5. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil before serving.

More risotto recipes

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Asparagus, pea and shrimp risotto
Caramelized carrot risotto

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