The Secret Ingredient In Brad Guest’s Risotto

The chef joined Shell House earlier this year and shares his tips for making the perfect risotto.

Article by T Australia

Shell House owner and restaurateur Brett Robinson pictured with head chef Brad Guest. Photography courtesy of Shell House.

Brad Guest held roles at Rockpool, Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay, Gastropark, Cafe Paci and Bilson’s by Tony Bilson before joining Shell House in Sydney as head chef earlier this year. He says the key to making the perfect risotto lies in the roasting of your meat or fish – and adding a secret ingredient at the end.

When it comes to the ebi prawn risotto at Shell House, for example, Guest says, “Roasting the prawns in butter in a pan instead of oil will give a much deeper shellfish flavour. If you burn the butter, the stock will have a very undesired bitter flavour. The butter gives the risotto the deep prawn flavour.”

As for the secret ingredient, it’s mascarpone – a thick, creamy cheese with a high fat content.

“The small amount of mascarpone at the end is a quick tip on how to keep the risotto nice and creamy – the way it should be,” he says.

The prawn risotto at Shell House with ebi prawn. Photography courtesy of Shell House.

Brad Guest’s Prawn Risotto (serves six)

For the prawn stock & butter

500g school prawns
250g butter
2 eschalot sliced
2 garlic cloves sliced
50g tomato pasta
50ml white wine
50ml vermouth
1 litre water
optional – 3cm stick kombu (dried seaweed)


  1. Melt the butter in a large stock pan.
  2. Add the school prawns, increase to a medium to high heat and cook in the butter for 15-18 minutes while constantly stirring to prevent the prawns burning on the bottom.
  3. Once the prawns are nicely roasted add the sliced eschalot and garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste, cook for one minute then deglaze with the alcohol.
  5. Reduce the alcohol down by three quarters.
  6. Add the water, bring to a boil then turn down to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Once cooked, strain the stock through a fine sieve and cool (optional – add a 3cm stick of konbu to the stock while it is cooling).  The stock and butter will separate in the container. Remove the butter from the top and reserve separate to the stock.

For the prawn risotto

Prawn stock (see previous step)
Prawn butter (see previous step)
400g Risotto Rice
20g butter
1 clove garlic (sliced)
10 pc Sashimi grade prawn, peeled and cleaned and cut into thirds
20g Mascarpone


1. Heat the stock (without the butter).
2. In a separate pan, melt the butter over a low heat, add the garlic and fry gently for 2 minutes, or until soft but not coloured.
3. Add the rice and turn up to a medium heat.  The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so continue to stir.
4. After one minute the rice will look slightly translucent.  Add a ladle of the warm prawn stock with a good pinch of salt and turn the heat down
5. Stir the rice constantly while the stock is absorbed into the rice.  Continue to add ladles of prawn stock to the rice as it cooks.  The risotto rice will cook in 14-16 minutes until the rice is soft but still has a bite.  If the stock has all gone before your desired doneness, just use hot water to finish the risotto.
6. Once the rice is cooked, add 30g of the reserved roast prawn butter.  Constantly stir to emulsify the butter into the rice.
7. Add the prawns and stir through.  They will cook in the hot stock in just under a minute.
8.  Remove from the heat, add the mascarpone and continue to fold through.  This will result in a buttery and creamy texture
9. Check the seasoning and adjust as required.
10. Serve immediately.  Finish the plate with another 20g of melted roasted prawn butter.