Ireland’s greatest ingredients part 2 – Crab and Sea Spice Risotto. Cheese or no cheese?

Crab and sea spice risotto (2 of 3)I told you recently that the last thing the world needs is yet another risotto recipe. I lied. That was before eldest daughter returned, from a break on our wild Atlantic shore, bearing gifts. Gifts of Sea Spice! That and the Kerry crab catapults this otherwise ordinary dish into the extraordinary and onto my Ireland’s Greatest Ingredients list. “Sea Spice?” I can hear your busy little mind at work “What is Sea Spice?” I hear you ruminate. 

According to the website, Sea Spice is a combination of “Sea Spaghetti, Dulse, Sweet Kombu, Spirulina, Wakame, Kombu and Nori. An easy to use product which is versatile enough to be incorporated into many recipes.”  In plain language, seaweed. Very tasty seaweed indeed.

Crab and sea spice risotto (1 of 15)My ingredients list is not too long and contains lots of sea related stuff.

Ingredients

  • 10 to 12 crab claws
  • 50 grammes or so of fresh Kerry crab
  • Half a litre (1 pint) of fish stock
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of Sea Spice
  • 2 prawn bombs (If you have them) or an additional 250 ml / half pint of fish stock.
  • 250 grammes of risotto rice
  • 1 glass of nice, dry white wine
  • 1 onion
  • 1 chili
  • 1 lime
  • 1 handful of parmesan cheese (optional)
  • A few knobs of butter
Slice the onion up nice and small. The only time there will be tears with this dish.

Slice the onion up nice and small. The only time there will be tears with this dish.

Make the risotto in the usual way.Bring the stock (including the bombs if using) to a simmer. Sweat the onion, over a low heat, in a little olive oil, until translucent. Add the risotto rice and stir until the rice becomes coated in oil and onion. Add the wine and stir until the alcohol evaporates and the rice absorbs the liquid. Add the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring until absorbed. This process will take about 30 minutes. It’s worth it.

Start to add the stock, one ladle at a time.

Start to add the stock, one ladle at a time.

When the rice is almost cooked, add the sea spice and stir in. It will reconstitute in the risotto.

I have never used sea spice before. I will be using it again.

I have never used sea spice before. I will be using it again.

Add in the chili and stir it in too.

The chili adds a nice little kick. Lovely with the other flavours.

The chili adds a nice little kick. Lovely with the other flavours.

Add the crab meat. Taste and season as required.

The difference between fresh and pasteurised crab meat is huge. Go fresh.

The difference between fresh and pasteurised crab meat is huge. Go fresh.

Stir it all to combine. Add one last ladle of stock. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese, if using.

Creating a delicious dish and a bit of controversy. What the hell...

Creating a delicious dish and a bit of controversy. What the hell…

Note on Parmesan Cheese in Seafood Risotto: Ace Blogger, Rory Kelly has been beating the drum for parmesan in seafood risotto. Pretty well every Italian on the planet recoils in horror at the prospect. 

Add the knobs of butter. Let them melt in.

A few knobs of butter are essential. Essential, do you hear, not like the cheese.

A few knobs of butter are essential. Essential, do you hear, not like the cheese.

Place a lid on the pan and turn off the heat. Let the risotto rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Warm the crab claws in the microwave. Don’t overdo them. If you do, I’ll call around and hurl abuse at you. Stir the risotto. Place in bowls. Artistically place the crab claws around the bowls.

Tart it up with some lime juice, lime zest shavings and chili. Add a bit of parmesan, if so inclined.

Tart it up with some lime juice, lime zest shavings and chili. Add a bit of parmesan, if so inclined.

Sit down and enjoy a unique risotto that tastes wonderfully of the ocean. If you like seafood, you will really love this. The sea spice is a wonderful addition. The jury is out on the parmesan. Sorry Rory.

Final note on commercialism: My company, Firstcom, is doing some business with Quinlan’s Fish, who’s crab features here. Whether we were, or whether we weren’t would not change the facts of the tasty crab. It is truly delicious. The business relationship has no influence on the blog. I promise.

 

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  • Great post Conor. We’re all for using sea weed in our recipes down here. In fact as I type my wife is making granola bars with the very same Sea Spice.

    • Stick a few in the post Brian. They sound like a cracking idea.

  • That’s a delicious risotto – is the Sea Spice mixed and packaged by mermaids? 😉

    • How did you guess MD. I’m off to the factory to see if I can capture one.

      • Be careful, they may be Sirens 😉

  • This looks so, so good! Never heard of Sea Spice before but it sounds like there are some Japanese influences to it!

    • I think there is commonality there all right. We are realising the richness of the fine food ingredients that are growing on our shores.

  • Cheese. Definitely. But with crab I wouldn’t use Parmesan, I’d give it a grate of an aged Gruyere or Emmenthal. I like the idea of the nuttiness of the Swiss cheese with the sweet intensity of the crab.

    • Oooo, my mom makes a crabmeat quiche with gruyere. That’s a good combo.

      • Quiche – Yes. Risotto – No, I could not add gruyere to a risotto.

    • My jury is still out Kate. I only put the bit of parmesan in there to keep Rory Kelly quiet!

  • ‘Warm the crab claws in the microwave’? I’m shocked Conor. Surely you meant gently tucked into the risotto whilst it rests or gently simmered for a minute while you serve up? Other than that this looks spectacular and I can only imagine how good it tasted.
    P.S. Have to say I’m a parmesan man with chicken or veg risottos, but not with seafood, just to split the debate.

    • The claws got a 30 warming on a low setting. If I had put them into the risotto, the picture would have been pretty messy. We eat with our eyes too! Though I did feel some shame as I typed….

  • That is the question. Love the idea of the umami flavour of the sea spice (not to sound like a tosser). Maybe It was a tad too much with the savoury taste of the parmesan? Thus far, I haven’t popped cheese in with a seafood risotto but who knows what the future will bring?

    • I’m flipping and flopping on this one. On balance, I think I’d go no cheese in future. Unless one of my diners started a fight about it.

  • Ps the crab meat looks the business.

  • I think I may just be having a little pang of jealousy…no wait, maybe it’s hunger – or both! This is an absolutely incredible looking meal. My gosh, if I had that on my plate, I’d have thought I’d died and gone to heaven!

    • Thanks, it was pretty delicious indeed.

  • I wish my company did business with companies that provide crab meat. The odd steak wouldn’t hurt. All I get is endless emails and telephone calls trying to sell me advertising space. Boo.

    • We are doing the ads for the crabmeat people (amongst other things). All good fun. Hurrah!

  • Cheese. Always cheese. Unless I haven’t any. Then no cheese. Looks tasty.

    • Thanks Nick. I love it when you come down hard on one side of the argument.

  • Cheese it up 🙂 (but that’s just me!) – where do you get your toes Conor?

    • Quinlan’s in Kerry. It’s great to be working with them. Product sampling is a vital part of the job.

      • Lovely!!Great dish fella! Tell Dave Hendrick I said hello…..and that he still owes my 20 quid.

        • Thanks Rory,
          I’ll do that but, you can collect your own debts!

  • Gorgeous! See, I told you she’d be back!

    • No Amanda, that is Youngest who is departing. She is off in just over a week. Eldest brought back the sea spice. Hopefully, she is not abandoning ship too soon….

      • Aww. I see. She’ll be just fine 🙂 So will you.

  • This looks great! When my folks were still around, Dad and I used to secretly laugh together because we added cheese to the risotto and never told my brother, who said he hated cheese. He always thought the risotto was great and could not understand why he could not get his to taste as good!

    • Very sly. I have two lactose intolerant girls in the house so cheese can only be added when they are not dining.

  • I know you’re talking ‘world’ here, but damn. I live in northeast Texas, where ‘gourmet’ and ‘all-you-can-eat’ are synonyms. Risotto is rare around these parts (my apologies to Italy). Yours looks divine. — Missing you over at my pad. 😉

    • You should give it a go in the winter months. The gourmet and all-you-can-eat are not comfortable bedfellows.

  • I did rather gasp at you microwaving crab claws, but then again, I put beans in my chili. ‘Nuff said. 😉

    • Gentle warming! Why is everybody so sensitive today?

  • I’m loving your risotto styles… Butter truly is essential. And that sea spice sounds the business. I’m going to find me some of that! 🙂

  • Love the sound of that sea spice too, that’s a new one for me. I’d imagine you could make some sea spiced butter to use in all sort of fish dishes. Must track some down.

    You’re hopefully aware my opinion of your seafood dishes so you know I’m smiling away as I scroll…

    • The sea spice butter idea is an inspiration Phil. Though I do have a tube of garlic and chive butter in the freezer, attracting the ire of the Wife. Perhaps not the time to add to the collection.

  • Hi Conor, I like the idea of the sea spice, but have never seen it for sale. I bet it is great with the crab. You know how I feel about the parmesan, being somewhat of an adopted Italian and all 😉 Perhaps you could warm up the crab claws in the stock, which would keep them clean (and then keep them warm in the oven, along with the plates). This may also provide some additional flavor to the stock. I’ve never done a crab risotto, that is something to try. I’d like to make it with crab stock I suppose, but your prawn bombs are a great substitute for that for sure.

    • Thanks Stefan,
      A sensible suggestion indeed. Crab stock might be a stock too far in our freezer.

  • I know that purists disagree, but there are few things I can think of that are hurt by a bit of good Parmesan. But, of course, something as lovely as this doesn’t require it.

    • Michelle, that is as perfect a piece of fence sitting as I have ever seen.
      Best,
      C

      • Clearly I missed my calling. Should’ve been a diplomat. 😉

  • Again, you can never have too many risotto recipes! I think cheese (& bacon) make everything a little bit better. Not a huge fish fan so I can’t contribute to this debate but I do have to laugh every time the judges in Masterchef recoil in horror when someone combines fish with dairy 🙂
    Hopefully I’ll see you on Saturday at the awards!

    • Yes indeed. We are looking forward to the night. There are all sorts of places where fish and dairy get to act well together. I think that when we slavishly subscribe to convention, we limit creativity and fun. On that note, I will be pretty conventional on Saturday, avoiding any 80s gear.

  • It’s been ages since I ate proper crab. As in, not from a can. Yours looks incredible – a great celebration of both the sea and Ireland’s bounty. Love this.

    • I can’t say too much about the flavours in this dish. The sea spice and the crab work amazingly together. However, it really has to be the fresh stuff.

  • SImply delicious and fancy dish!!!
    never had that kind of crab claw before, lucky you Conor….

    • It’s a good one for sure Dedi. Though, I see you cooking a lot of very fancy seafood over there. Keep at it.

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