Lobster risotto

As I promised in the original risotto post the possibilities are endless.  Lobster risotto is one luxurious and indulgent dish. 

serves: 4        difficulty: medium      prep time: 40-50 min


for the risotto

  • One large raw Maine lobster (1.5 lbs) or 4 raw lobster tails
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 1/3 cups of Arborio rice (1/3 cup rice per person is portioned for a middle course. Increase to 1/2 cup per person if this is a main course).
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6 cups lobster stock. You can get it from a good fish monger – such as San Francisco Fish Co in the Ferry Building – or you can make it yourself.
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream


Risotto is great to serve at a dinner party but it needs to be finished right before it is served, and it takes about 20 min to cook. So unless you are OK missing half the conversation at your dinner party, it is tough to prepare after your guests have arrived. This recipe includes a trick that I learned from a Jamie Oliver cookbook that allows to prepare the risotto ahead of time and just finish it in 5 min when ready to serve.

Chop the onion.


Place the lobster stock in a stock pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer. You need the stock to be at boiling temperature when you start cooking the rice.

In a large pot heat the olive oil and butter together. Once the butter has melted, add the onions to the pot, and sauté until translucent (but not golden).

Reduce the heat to medium, add the rice.  Stirring constantly, fry the rice for 2 min. Frying the raw rice before adding any liquid is one of the keys to a creamy risotto. Add the white wine and continue stirring until the wine is almost completely absorbed.

When the white wine has been absorbed, pour a ladle of stock in the rice mixture, and continue stirring until the stock has been almost absorbed.

Continue adding stock – one ladle at a time. Stir gently until the liquid has been almost entirely absorbed before adding the next ladle of stock.

Note that you will not use any cheese or cheese rind since this is a seafood risotto, and for the Italian purists mixing seafood and cheese is a cardinal sin.

And here is the trick how to stop cooking the risotto, and wait till your are ready to serve:

Continue adding stock until 2/3 of the stock has been absorbed, then remove the risotto from the heat, and continue stirring for 2 min so that it cools down.  The goal is to slow down and stop the cooking process. At that point the risotto has to feel really al dente – i.e. the rice is not yet edible.  Stir again every 5 min for the next 20 min to allow it to keep cooling. Your risotto is almost ready – and will take only 5 min to finish before you are ready to serve.

In the meantime, you need to cook the lobster. Fill a very large stock pot with water (about 3-4 quarts or enough to make sure that the lobster is completely submerged), add 1/4 cup sea salt and bring it to a boil. Put the lobster in the boiling water head first – you may want to use tongs for this procedure.  Do not cover the pot. If the lobster is 1.5 lbs, boil it for 11-12 min. If it is 1 lbs, the cooking time will be 8 min; for a 3 lbs lobster – 25 min.

Take the lobster out of the pot and let cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, you can remove the meat. First, twist off the lobster claws, and crack each lobster claw and knuckle with a lobster cracker. Then twist off the the lobster tail from the body to separate it. Insert a fork in the tail and push the tail meat out in one piece.  Remove the black vein which runs the length of the lobster tail.

If you are making your own lobster stock, reserve the shells and the lobster body.

You can keep the claw and knuckle meat whole, and you can either chop the tail meat in 1 inch pieces (below) or you can split the lobster tail lengthwise and serve half a tail.

When ready to serve, bring the remainder of the stock to a boil. Heat the risotto as well, and add 1 tbs salt and pepper to taste. Add a ladle of the hot stock to the risotto and keep stirring. Repeat until the risotto is moist and creamy. Stir in the lobster meat, and cook for another minute to make sure that the lobster meat is heated through. Taste the rice for doneness – it has to feel still quite al dente. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cream.

I have served lobster risotto in two variations:

  1. The lobster meat is chopped and incorporated in the risotto.
  2. I only used lobster tails and each tail is served in the tail shell on top of the risotto. You still need to pull the tail meat out of the shell, then cut out the bottom (lighted color) of the tail shell, and re-insert the meat in the remaining part of the tail shell. When you curl the lobster tail on top of the risotto it makes a very interesting presentation.


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