Bay Scallop Risotto

Scallops are just about my favorite seafood. Unfortunately, the large sea scallops that I prefer have become prohibitively expensive. The smaller, somewhat sweeter farm-raised bay scallops, however, remain affordable. I find that even when dry-packed they contain too much water to sear properly so they are best served in a sauce, gratinée, or in a rice dish. One could simply add the raw scallops to the risotto and let the hot rice cook them, but I prefer to poach them lightly first, in part to extract some of their flavor with which to infuse the rice. The bacon is optional but I think that it is the perfect foil for scallops. And one could use onion or shallot or both either with or in place of the garlic. I folded in a bit of grated asiago before serving—parmesan or Romano would work equally well.

Serves two.



Bay scallops

250 grams

8 ounces


750 milliliters

3¼ cups

Shrimp shells and tails (optional)

30 grams

1 ounce

Bacon (optional)

30 grams

1 ounce (one rasher)

Olive oil

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Garlic, minced

15 grams

about 1 Tablespoon

Arborio rice

250 grams

1 cup

Vermouth or white whine

50 milliliters

¼ cup

Spinach, chopped

100 grams

4 ounces


to taste

to taste

Truffle oil (optional)

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Asiago cheese, grated

20 grams

1 Tablespoon



Bring the water to a boil and remove from the heat. Add the scallops and let them poach for a minute or two. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Put the shrimp shells, if using, into the water and let them steep for a few minutes. Remove and discard. Keep the liquid at a simmer while making the risotto.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and cook the bacon until crispy. Remove and set aside, leaving as much fat in the pan as possible. Sauté the garlic in the hot fat for a few seconds then add the rice. Fry, stirring constantly, until the rice is chalky and the garlic has begun to color somewhat, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vermouth or wine and let the alcohol boil off, then add about 120 milliliters (½ cup) of the water. Stir until the liquid is almost absorbed. Continue adding water 60 milliliters (¼ cup) at a time, stirring each addition until almost absorbed. When about two thirds of the water is gone, fold in the chopped spinach. Continue stirring liquid until it is almost gone then check the rice for doneness—it should be tender with just a hint of “tooth.” Season to taste with salt and fold in the scallops, truffle oil if using, and cheese.

Serve hot.


2 responses to “Bay Scallop Risotto

  1. Leo Cotnoir September 20, 2014 at 17:36

    Let me know how it comes out if you try it.

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