Prawn and saffron aranchini, black aïoli

Prawn and saffron aranchini, black aïoli

New Classics
Mark Roper

One of my first, and still one of my favourite risottos, was made with prawn bisque or stock. The rich flavour and deceptive simplicity was a revelation to me and was something I really wanted to perfect. What a crowd pleaser this would be! Years later, having pleased the crowds, I’ve taken it sideways and created these little ‘bombs’. The black aïoli adds even more theatre, but they are still awesome with just a squeeze of lemon.

Arancini base


Quantity Ingredient
12 raw prawns
1.5 liters prawn stock
1 small brown onion, very finely diced
125ml olive oil
250g arborio rice
a large pinch saffron threads
200ml white wine
30g basil, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 lemon, juiced
110g see method for ingredients
150g plain
2 eggs, whisked with 1 tablespoon milk
200g dry breadcrumbs

Black aïoli

Quantity Ingredient
garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
black garlic
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 x 25g sachet squid ink, (optional)
2 egg yolks
300ml light olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
lemon juice
green tabasco

For deep-frying

Quantity Ingredient
2 litres canola or other oil, suitable for deep-frying
baby basil leaves, for garnish


  1. Peel and devein the prawns, leaving the last 1–1.5 cm of shell and the tail. (You can use the shells for the stock.) Split the prawns lengthways and trim to about 4 cm long. Chop the trimmed pieces and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Bring the stock to the boil over medium heat then reduce the heat and keep warm.
  3. In a large heavy-based saucepan, sweat the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the rice and the saffron and continue cooking for several minutes to roast the rice. Pour in the white wine and cook, stirring continuously, until the wine has evaporated. Add the warm stock and cook, stirring often, for 15–20 minutes until the rice is cooked. (You are ‘overcooking’ as you need the mixture to be quite starchy so it holds together in balls.) Add the basil and season with salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste. Stir through the chopped prawn meat and mascarpone and spread onto a tray to cool.
  4. Have three bowls at hand – one containing the flour, one with the egg mixture and one with the breadcrumbs.
  5. Scoop about a tablespoon of the rice mixture into your hand and make a dent to put a half prawn into. Shape the mixture around the prawn into a ball, leaving the tail poking out like a little fuse. When you have used all the prawns, roll any remaining mixture into extra arancini. Gently roll each ball in the flour then dip in the egg and finally roll in the breadcrumbs. Put the arancini in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them.
  6. To make the black aïoli, put the garlics, dijon mustard, squid ink (if using) and egg yolks in a blender and process until very smooth. With the motor running on medium speed, start drizzling in the oil in a thin stream. When half the oil is absorbed add the vinegar and then continue with the oil. If the mixture looks too thick add a splash of cold water. When all the oil is absorbed, season with salt, lemon juice and green Tabasco to taste.
  7. To deep-fry, heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan or deep-fryer to 180°C or until the handle of a wooden spoon bubbles vigorously when dipped in the oil. Deep-fry the arancini in batches of six or so until dark golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt. When all are cooked place each on a spoonful of the aïoli or serve the aïoli in a side dish. Garnish with a few basil leaves and serve while hot.
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