Outer Banks Style Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto: A Coastal Culinary Delight

Nestled along the picturesque coast of North Carolina, the Outer Banks is a treasure trove of culinary delights, where the bounty of the sea meets the richness of the land.

Among the myriad of dishes that capture the essence of this unique locale, the Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto stands out for its creamy texture, vibrant flavors, and the harmony of fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Ingredients Spotlight

  • Olive Oil & Butter: For sautéing and bringing out the flavors.
  • Fresh Locally Sourced NC Shrimp: The star of the dish, offering sweetness and succulence.
  • Smoked Paprika: Adds a hint of smokiness and depth.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: Brightens the dish with a zesty flair.
  • Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper: For seasoning.
  • Yellow Onion & Garlic Cloves: The aromatic base that adds complexity.
  • Arborio Rice: The heart of any risotto, known for its creamy texture when cooked.
  • Chicken or Fresh Made Shrimp Stock: Elevates the risotto with rich, layered flavors.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated for the best melting quality and umami.

The Culinary Journey

  1. Prepare the Ingredients: Begin by peeling and deveining the shrimp, seasoning them lightly with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Trim the asparagus and cut into bite-sized pieces, and finely chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Sauté the Shrimp: Heat a mix of olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook until just pink. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the shrimp, then remove them from the pan and set aside.
  3. Cook the Aromatics: In the same pan, add a bit more olive oil and butter, then sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. This builds the flavor foundation for our risotto.
  4. Toast the Arborio Rice: Add the rice to the pan, stirring to coat each grain with the oil and butter, letting it toast slightly. This step is crucial for achieving the perfect risotto texture.
  5. Gradually Add the Stock: Begin adding the chicken or shrimp stock one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Allow each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. This slow addition and constant stirring coax the starches out of the rice, creating the risotto’s signature creamy consistency.
  6. Incorporate the Asparagus: When the risotto is about halfway done, add the asparagus. It will cook to perfection as the risotto finishes.
  7. Finish with Cheese and Shrimp: Once the risotto is creamy and the rice is tender yet firm to the bite, stir in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Gently fold in the cooked shrimp, allowing them to warm through.
  8. Serve Immediately: Risotto is best enjoyed fresh from the stove. Serve it with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a twist of black pepper, alongside a crisp, green salad and crusty bread.

The Essence of Outer Banks Cuisine

This Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto recipe embodies the spirit of Outer Banks cuisine, highlighting the importance of fresh, local ingredients. From the succulent North Carolina shrimp to the bright, tangy lemon and earthy asparagus, each component plays a role in creating a dish that’s both comforting and elegant.

Whether you’re a long-time resident or a visitor eager to recreate the flavors of your Outer Banks vacation, this risotto is a delightful way to bring the taste of the coast into your home.