Crab Risotto

5 from 6 votes
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crab risotto in a bowl
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Seafood risottos are one of the great joys in life, especially when they are made with fresh stock and fresh ingredients. Lobster and crab risotto is my favorite of them all.

Unlike terrestrial meats and stocks, those made with the fruits of the sea are zephyrs: Make them, enjoy them, and move on. They don’t store well.

I make this risotto to celebrate our Dungeness crab season, but you could use blue crabs in the East, Jonah or stone crabs — even snow or king crab meat. And yes, you can use crawfish or lobster, too. Both are wonderful.

You will need arborio, vialone nano, or carnaroli rice for this dish, and if you happen to have access to all three, go for the vialone nano — it’s the rice most Italian cooks use for a seafood or crab risotto. I’ve seen it in some supermarkets, and in most Italian groceries. Spanish bomba rice works well, too.

I urge you to make the seafood stock for the rice. It is a zillion times better than using store-bought stock, and it comes together in less than an hour. I feel so strongly about this that if you can’t make your own fish or seafood stock for this, I recommend chicken or vegetable stock, not a store-bought seafood stock, because most are overly fishy.

Should you have leftovers, my favorite way to cook leftover risotto easily — fried arancini balls are amazing but time-consuming — is to beat a couple eggs, then pour some olive oil into a pan. Heat the oil, spread the cold risotto out in the pan so it’s about 1/2 inch thick, then pour the beaten eggs over it all. Mix it a little, maybe add any leftover crab or parsley, flip once and eat for lunch the next day. It’s amazing and simple.

As a side note, I have a pretty spectacular recipe for fish risotto that I cribbed from an Italian language cookbook from Venice, as well as a pretty shrimp risotto with saffron. You can find more than a dozen risotto recipes for fish and seafood, mushrooms and vegetables here.

crab risotto recipe
5 from 6 votes

Crab Risotto

The key here is good stock. You should make crab stock special for this recipe, but you could use a high-quality fish stock instead. If you don't have access to either, use good vegetable stock, or even water. One note: If you use a salty broth or stock, taste the risotto as you go, and switch to water once the dish is salty enough for you.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups risotto rice
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup Marsala or white wine
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 to 2 cups crab meat
  • 5 to 7 cups crab stock, fish stock or chicken stock
  • Salt

Instructions 

  • Pour the stock into a pot and bring to a bare simmer.
  • Heat the olive oil in another pot over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Add the garlic, rice and tomato paste and stir-fry them until the garlic just begins to turn golden.
  • Pour in the Marsala and stir vigorously. It will combine with the tomato paste to make a thick slurry, so start pouring in your crab stock. Start with 1/2 cup. Stir well to combine. Sprinkle a little salt over everything now -- unless your stock is already salty.
  • Stirring constantly, let the liquid evaporate. When the pot is nearly dry, add another half cup of hot stock. Keep doing this for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked but still firm.
  • Once the rice is cooked, add a little more stock, the parsley and the crab meat and stir to combine. Add some nice olive oil now if you want. I do. Turn the heat to low and stir until the crab is heated through. Serve at once.

Notes

This recipe also works very well with crawfish and lobster. 

Nutrition

Calories: 546kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 1335mg | Potassium: 538mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1264IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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16 Comments

  1. This combines two of my favorite foods, crab and risotto. I’ve got some fresh Dungeness that I’ll be cooking this up with again with tonight.

  2. Easy and delicious. We had a haul of crabs from a couple a weeks ago and this recipe did not disappoint. While it’s work to shell the meat, everything else comes together fairly easily, and timing is easy with shelling and making your own stock. My only wish is that I had some ‘strattu for the tomato paste as opposed to regular tomato paste, but that’s just me being picky.

    I used bomba rice for this and I thought it was a great upgrade from just a basic arborio.

  3. We had King Crab last week and somewhere along the way, while I was making stock, Hank posted this recipe on Facebook. I used the stock to make this. We didn’t have crab left over, so we had shrimp instead and it was fabulous. The only adjust I made was adding onions in the beginning (like the shrimp risotto) and added a little extra tomato paste. I used the white wine we were drinking. Fantastic the first day, even better the second. Thanks for an amazing recipe, can’t wait to have it with crab!

  4. I made this crab risotto recipe for dinner tonight with the crab stock recipe and dungeness crab that my commercial fishing daughter brought me while fishing out of Newport, OR. It was pretty good, although just to be honest, it isn’t my favorite way to use fresh crab in a recipe. The only thing I changed was I only used 1/4 cup chopped parsley instead of the 1 cup (I thought the 1 cup would be way too much) and the dish did turn out looking like the one in the picture.
    It was something different to try and thanks for posting this! 🙂 (and the majority of the ingredients were local!)

  5. I just have to thank you for this recipe. I made it this weekend, with the crab stock, and it is seriously the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I got 10 lbs of king crab from Alaska this year, and I was looking for something new to do with it. I used the meat from 1 dungeness crab with 2 gigantic king crab legs and it was just perfect. I mean seriously the best thing I’ve ever made, and all I had to do was follow this fantastic recipe. Thank you!

  6. Made this risotto the other day and loved it! Tonight, with the left overs, I made risotto cakes and did a version of eggs Benedict with them instead of English muffins. Threw a slice or prosciutto, tomato and acacodo on there and it was amazing.

  7. Just made your risotto with Dungeness crab we caught in Haines, Alaska and salmon stock from Taku River salmon. Was afraid it might be too understated, because the recipe was so simple. But of course, as with all Hank recipes, it was AWESOME. Thanks! Christine (Whitehorse, Yukon)

  8. I love your recipes Hank, but I have a shell to pick with this one. Agreed w/ quality stock and fresh crab. But for me, marsala is too cloying for crab. I would stick w/ a crisp white and one that you would be more than happy to drink. I also think a couple of smashed fennel seeds and a tiny bit of heat from a pepperoncino would be good along w/ only a few tablespoons of parsley. A cup makes it all about the parsley. Also, once the risotto is done, it should hardly be stirred at all. It would be better to heat the crab really gently over a low flame (w/a bit of butter or best quality olive oil) on it’s own before being added to the risotto to prevent over stirring. signed, nuts about risotto, Faye

  9. I ache for Dungeness crab. I lived in Oregon for several years and couldn’t get enough of it. When I moved to the east coast I missed it, but could get it occasionally. In Sweden I am out of luck. In my opinion, nothing compares to it so I’ll have to wait to try this recipe until I’m back in the states sometime since the cost of lobster here is astronomical, at least 4x more for an American fished lobster and 6-8x more for a European one. Go figure.

  10. Steve: Very cool story! I am assuming (hoping?) that the dude was screaming because it was a grizzly bear. It’s kinda unmanly to shriek over a black bear…

    Food Lover: I like crab with olive oil, lemon and garlic, too, although I usually serve king crab that way.

    Marcus: Glad you liked it!

  11. I made this recipe from your book last summer in Alaska. Fresh stock, fresh crab, there’s nothing like it. That was my first experience with risotto and now we’re hooked!

  12. When it comes to risotto, it’s definitely all about the stock. I love me some good risotto though. Wow, that looks good. I will be keeping an eye on our fish stands since I’m on the East Coast and we have a different monster in our ocean. Thanks for a great recipe.

  13. This looks so good I think I’ll make it this week. My favorite way to enjoy Dungeness crab, a true San Francisco treat, is simply with a light marinade of lemon, garlic, parsley & olive oil. This marinade preference just might be the result of a childhood filled with many winter crab feeds.

  14. Coming from the Midwest, I did not consider myself a huge fan of crab. But, I was once stuck in an Alaskan Forest Service cabin for a week because of torrential rains and gale force winds, and had little else to eat besides emergency dried foods.

    But we did have a couple of crab traps, and managed to catch a couple of Irish Lords for bait. Though it was hard work to make it out to the dock – the winds were really that bad – I have never seen so many Dungeness crab in my life. After boiling and eating our fill, we put a pie tin full of crab meat into a dried pasta y fagioli soup mix, and let me tell you, it was awesome!

    One more story – These cabins have log books. This one told the story of a bear coming and scratching all around the cabin. The line that made me laugh until I cried was, “Scream? … I thought my husband would never stop!”

    Thanks, Hank, I hope to try your risotto recipe soon.

  15. I’m in Maryland, so I will make this risotto with blue crabs (the sustainable choice for me–although I adore Dungeness crabs). This is an elegant way to serve crabs and particularly to guests that don’t care for the painstakingly sweet work of picking and scraping for their meat. Beautiful photo!