New England Living TV: A Maine Chef’s Bouillabaisse-Style Risotto

Kyle Robinson, chef de cuisine at Five Fifty-Five in Portland, Maine, makes a flavorful Bouillabaisse-style Risotto with New England Living TV host Parker Kelley. The fine dining establishment in downtown takes fresh and local food seriously and composes classic dishes with a creative, refreshing twist. In this recipe, Robinson uses lobster, which gives it a traditional New England feel, but he assures viewers that crab, shrimp or local fish can be just as delicious.

“While this recipe is a bit involved the results are well worth the effort and all the seafood can be substituted with what is local, sustainable and available in your area,” says Robinson.

Bouillabaisse-style Risotto

(Serves 4)

Prepare the Seafood


1.5-pounds Maine lobsters (one per person)
½-pound fresh Maine shrimp, shell removed and deveined. Reserve shells for bouillabaisse broth.


1. Boil fresh lobster in salted water until almost fully cooked, about 5 minutes.
2. Shell lobster, remove tail, knuckle, claw meat and cut into bite sized pieces (leaving one claw whole for garnish). Reserve shells for bouillabaisse broth.

Bouillabaisse Broth


1/8 cup canola oil
1 ea leek, white part only, julienne
1 ea fennel, bulb only, julienne
1 ea carrot, peeled, sliced
2 ea shallot, peeled, julienne
2 ea garlic cloves, smashed
pinch saffron
pinch smoked paprika
¼ cup pernod
¼ cup white wine
28 oz can whole-peeled tomatoes with juice
½ gallon water
Any shells or trim from the fish or shellfish you are using


1. In a small rondeau set over medium heat, add the olive oil. Sweat the leek, fennel, shallot, carrot, garlic, saffron, paprika and a pinch of salt until the vegetables are soft.
2. Add the pernod and reduce until almost evaporated.
3. Add the white wine and reduce until almost evaporated.
4. Add the tomatoes, water, lobster and shrimp shells. Simmer for 1 hour.
5. Pass through a fine mesh strainer and keep warm in order to prepare the risotto.

Cook the Maine Lobster and Shrimp 


Prepared lobster and shrimp
2 tablespoons water
½ butter cut into cubes and kept cold


1. Bring the water to a boil in an appropriate size saucepan.
2. Reduce the heat to low and begin whisking the butter into the water, bit by bit, to emulsify. Once you have established the emulsion, you can continue to add pieces of butter until you have used the ½ stick. It is important to keep the level of heat gentle and consistent in order to maintain the emulsification.
3. Add the shellfish to the butter and let gently poach over low heat while you prepare the risotto and garnishes.


¼ ea bulb fennel, shaved on a mandolin and reserved in ice water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
12 ea 2-inch pieces fennel fronds



1/8 cup canola oil
½ cup white onion, diced very fine
1 ½ cups carnaroli or arborio rice
1 cup white wine
1 quart bouillabaisse broth
4 oz unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold


1. Heat a large Sauce Pan over medium low heat and add the canola oil. Add the onions and about 2 teaspoons of salt. Slowly cook the onions, taking care not to brown them, until they are completely soft. Reduce the heat if necessary.
2. Add the rice and continue to cook stirring with a wooden spoon frequently for about 3 minutes.
3. Add the white wine and continue to cook stirring constantly until all of the wine has been absorbed by the rice. Keep cooking the rice until you can no longer smell the alcohol aroma from the wine.
4. Ladle enough of the hot bouillabaisse broth over the rice to barely cover it. Continue to stir and cook the rice until the broth evaporates. Add more stock to cover the rice, continuously stirring as the stock evaporates. Repeat this process until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked but the center is still al dente. You may not need all of the broth as there are variations in the rice as well as other factors. It is important to taste the rice frequently.
5. Once the rice is cooked al dente, add the butter and vigorously beat it in until it is emulsified. If necessary, adjust the consistency with a little bit of broth so that the rice is creamy and the surface naturally flattens out in the pan (not peaky).
6. Adjust the seasoning with salt.
7. Divide the risotto between 4 warm plates and serve immediately. Remove the shellfish from the butter and evenly distribute between the 4 plates. Toss the shaved fennel with the lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Garnish the 4 plates with the shaved fennel and fennel fronds.

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