Food & Drink Magazine

Oh, Don’t Be So Crabby…

By Helenaberthon @hberthon

Risotto – that deliciously creamy, oozing puddle that ripples across your plate with the grace of a calm Mediterranean tide.  Lovely tasting, lovely sounding, normally lovely to make…. except when you are making it for fifteen people.  Rule number one of risotto making: NEVER attempt to make it in large quantities.  EVER.  What is normally a languid and therapeutic twenty minutes of stirring becomes a wholly unrecognisable experience –   frenzied splashes of hot stock spraying up into the air, the screams as the risotto rain falls, sizzling hot, onto arms whose sleeves have been rolled up due to the sweaty workout caused by this frantic stirring.  And in the middle of this utter chaos, valiant risotto-stirrers hard at work, I attempted a misguided joke, ‘Come on team, the ordeal is near over!  Don’t be so crabby!’  Stifled chuckle.  Gosh, I’m funny.  Crab risotto.  CRABBY.  Hilarious.  However, I was thoroughly alone in enjoying my own very questionable humour.  Spoons slid silently into the soupy rice as the stirrers stopped in their tracks and gaped at me in unamused disbelief.  ‘CRABBY??!’ they all questioned in unison, before swiftly turning their backs and resuming risotto duty in complete dismissal of my unsuccessful attempt to lighten the mood.  I realize now that it may not have been my finest hour as far as word play goes, but is was a stressful hour well spent as the reactions to the risotto were pretty damn good.

The fresh crab worked wonders in transforming the starchy rice into an elegant dish that was permeated with the subtle, delicate taste of the sea.  The slight kick of chilli, the lift of lemon zest and the addition of summer peas and broad beans were perfect enhancements, adding a depth and roundness of flavour whilst letting the crab take centre stage.  These additions played their part in the background – and frankly, what more do you need when you have as soft and luscious an ingredient as crab?

Oh, don’t be so crabby…

Crab Risotto

Crab risotto

Serves 4

Adapted from Jeff Galvin’s recipe in The Times


  • 1.5l fish stock
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 120g fresh peas or petit pois
  • 400g arborio rice
  • 250ml white wine
  • 250g fresh crabmeat, keeping brown and white separate
  • 120g shelled broad beans
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and very finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 generous tbsp crème fraîche

Heat the stock gently and keep warm. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan, add the onion and gently sweat for 10min until soft. Add the rice, bring the heat up to medium and stir until the rice is mixed in with the butter. Add the wine, stir and simmer until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the stock a little at a time, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed. Go on until the stock is almost used up and the rice almost cooked. Add the brown crab meat, the broad beans and peas and the rest of the stock. Stir and simmer gently until the rice is cooked, with a little bite left. Fold in the white meat and the crème fraîche, cover, then remove from the heat and stand for 3min. Stir the risotto gently, adding more stock if necessary, season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter the chilli and lemon zest before serving.

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