Seafood Medley with Seared Coconut Risotto Cake

This was the third course to my 6-course New Year’s Day Dinner party for 8 people.

I love sauce making. Love it! And this sauce was particularly “TO DIE FOR!”

I wasn’t entirely happy with the plating because by this time, it was getting late and the pick-up time for this dish was already taking a long time. I was hungry and I was sure my friends were too. I wished I had planned out the plating for this dish more.

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For the Risotto Cake

  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1½ cup Arborio rice
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups dashi stock, or as needed
  • One 13.5 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a pan on medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Sweat the shallots until translucent. Stir in the rice and make sure the oil fully coats the rice. Cook until the ends of the rice are transparent, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Then add in the wine and cook until completely absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated.

Add 1 cup of the hot stock mixture and simmer, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the bottom of the pan is almost dry. Adding ½ cup stock at a time, stir until almost all the liquid has been absorbed between each addition. Be careful not to let the bottom of the pan dry out. Continue to stir often, and repeat until the rice is almost al dente. Add in coconut milk and continue cooking until rice is done and mixture if fairly dry.

Season the risotto and pour out onto a half-sheet pan and refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.

For the Seafood Medley

  • 2 lbs shrimp, with head and shells
  • 16 scallops
  • 2 lbs mussels, cleaned and beards removed
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & pepper

Remove heads and shell shrimp. Peel shrimp until the last segment of the tail and the tail itself. Place heads and shells in a bowl, set aside. Devein shrimp and set aside, either over ice or back in the refrigerator.

Get a pan very hot and throw in mussels, butter, shallots, parsley, and bay leaf. Cover the pan with a lid and shake the pan over the heat vigorously. Add in white wine and simmer until mussels open up, 3-4 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Mussels will be halfway cooked. You’ll finish cooking the mussels when the sauce is ready.

Strain the mussel liquor and set aside. Remove each mussel from its shell and set aside, either over ice or in the refrigerator. Discard shells, unless you want to plate mussels in their shells.

For the Shrimp/Mussel Sauce

  • Reserved shrimp heads and shells, from above
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 TBS brandy
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 garlic head, cut horizontally
  • 2 tarragon sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 7 oz. diced tomatoes
  • Reserved mussel jus
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a Dutch oven or very large pot, heat canola oil until smoking hot. Add in shrimp heads and shells and develop a deep orange color, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Then sauté mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery) until there is some color. Add in tomato paste and cook it thoroughly. Flambé with brandy then deglaze with white wine.

Add in diced tomatoes, garlic head, tarragon, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme, along with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hour. Strain and discard solids. Continue to reduce and reduce until you have around 2 cups of sauce. Add in reserved mussel jus and taste for seasoning. Adjust for seasoning and set aside, keep warm.

For the Finish

  • Risotto
  • Reserved mussels
  • 16 scallops
  • Reserved shrimp, deveined
  • AP flour, as needed
  • Butter, as needed
  • Tarragon, as needed, finely chopped
  • Parsley, as needed, finely chopped
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon wedges

When the risotto has cooled and solidified, punch out eight 2-inch risotto rounds. Brown/sear the risotto round on both sides in a non-stick pan and transfer to a tray. Flash in a 500°F oven before plating.

Make a beurre manié and add it to the sauce until you are satisfied with the consistency. The sauce shouldn’t be too thick. I added just a small pinch of beurre manié. Add mussels to sauce and keep sauce on simmering-heat. As you sear the rest of the seafood, the mussels will be done.

Sear both shrimp and scallops, separately, with salt and pepper. Squeeze some lemon juice over cooked shrimp and scallop, keep warm and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE

Place risotto cake in the center of the plate. Arrange 2 scallops and shrimp (4-6 pieces) around. Top with spoonful of sauce and mussels. Sprinkle freshly chopped tarragon and parsley over everything and serve immediately.

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