On Malta I really enjoyed the potatoes cooked liked a risotto with shrimp under the name of nosotto at Noni. And so back home I decided to create something similar. It is basically diced potatoes cooked in a fish and shrimp broth with morsels of tender shrimp. This is not the same as the nosotto at Noni, but it was certainly inspired by it. It turned out really well. Compared to Noni’s version the shrimp flavor was more pronounced due to searing the shrimp and a stronger shrimp flavor in the stock. I liked it that way, but to get closer to Noni’s version, you could poach the shrimp in the stock instead of searing the shrimp, and use less (or no) shrimp in the stock. In fact, if you can’t find shrimp with heads and shells, the dish will still turn out great but with a more lightly flavored broth. Use waxy potatoes so they will keep their shape during cooking. ‘New’ (recently harvested) potatoes are best for this dish, as the potatoes are the main act. If you can’t find samphire, another crunchy green garnish is fine, like baby asparagus.
This is an original and delicious dish that is relatively easy to prepare and requires only a few ingredients. I As with regular risotto, the quality of the stock is very important so it is worth making your own fish stock from scratch.
For 4 servings as primo piatto
700 grams (1.6 lb) waxy potatoes, peeled and diced (small dice)
about 400 grams (.9 lb) jumbo shrimp with heads and shells, peeled and deveined (about 200 grams (7 oz) after peeling), reserve the heads and shells for the stock
1 litre (1 quart) fish stock
1 small onion, minced
120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
samphire (sea asparagus) for garnish
Peel and the devein the shrimp, and reserve the heads and shells for the stock.
Place the shrimp meat in a bowl and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate to allow the salt to penetrate into the shrimp.
Put a litre of fish stock in a saucepan and add the shrimp heads and shells.
Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
Simmer the stock for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and dice the potatoes. Go for a small dice of less than 1 cm (1/3 inch). Do not soak the potatoes in water, as we want to keep the starch in.
Sieve the stock.
Take the shrimp out of the bowl and pat dry with paper towels. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp in a single layer and cook about 30 seconds over high heat.
Turn the shrimp and cook the other side for 30 seconds over high heat as well. Take the shrimp out of the pan and reserve. Lower the heat to medium.
Add the minced onion.
Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is soft and slightly golden.
Add 120 ml of dry white wine.
Cook over medium heat until the wine has reduced by half.
Now add the diced potato…
…and cover with fish stock. Add a bit of salt only if you used unsalted (homemade) fish stock. The broth will become more salty as it reduces, so be careful with the salt.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
Unlike regular risotto, the nosotto requires less stirring because the potatoes will release enough starch without stirring.
Stir once in a while, and add more stock as needed to keep the potatoes covered at least about halfway.
Cook the potatoes until they are tender but still firm to the bite, 10 to 15 minutes. The time will depend on the size.
While the potatoes are cooking, chop the seared shrimp into bite-size morsels.
When the potatoes are almost done, add the shrimp and stir. The shrimp will only need 1 or 2 minutes to finish cooking and to be heated. Do not overcook the shrimp.
Turn off the heat and add a tablespoon of butter in small pieces.
Stir until the butter has melted and allow to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
Serve on preheated deep plates or bowls. You can add additional broth if you want it more soupy. Garnish with samphire.