Paella rice with lobster
A recipe from Paella
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 17 minutes
Serves: 4 people
2 lobsters, about 500g (1lb 2oz) each, or 1 large lobster, about 1kg (2¼lb)
100ml (scant ½ cup) olive oil
6 blanched almonds
2 cloves garlic
1 dried ñora pepper, stalk removed and seeded
½ teaspoon saffron threads, toasted and pounded
6 small sprigs of flat-leaf parsley 200g (7oz) squid, cleaned, prepared, and cut into dice
3 tomatoes, halved, seeded and grated, skin discarded
1 teaspoon Spanish sweet smoked paprika
400g (2 cups) bomba or other shortgrain rice salt and pepper
Spices and flavourings:
1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layers removed, cut into very thin rounds
2 scant tablespoons fennel seeds
5 coriander seeds
2 sprigs of lemon thyme
You can substitute spiny (rock) lobster or slipper lobster for ordinary lobster if desired.
For an extra-fine texture use a 51cm (20-inch) paella pan.
Preheat the barbecue or grill. Lightly toast all the spices and flavourings in a dry frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant. Put into a muslin (cheesecloth) bouquet garni bag and secure tightly. Cut the lobsters lengthwise into two equal halves. Remove the leathery, gritty stomach sac from their heads. If you are using only 1 lobster, separate the head from the tail. Cut the head in half lengthwise and slice the tail into large medallions. Retrieve all the liquid released from the lobster to use in the paella.
Make sure that the paella pan is completely level to ensure that the paella cooks evenly. Heat the olive oil in the paella pan over very high heat. Sauté the almonds, garlic cloves and ñora pepper until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon, put into a mortar and pound with a pestle. Add the saffron and parsley, and pound with the pestle until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.
Season the lobsters with salt and place them in the pan, flesh side down. Sauté on both sides until half cooked. Remove from the pan and set aside. Next, gently sauté the squid briefly, then push it towards the edge of the pan. Add the grated tomato to the centre of the pan and cook, stirring, until thickened and reduced, making sure that it does not burn. Add the paprika and sauté for a few seconds more, taking care that it does not burn.
Add the reserved lobster liquid, 1 litre (4¼ cups) water and the muslin bag. Bring to a boil and sprinkle the rice as evenly as possible over the entire surface of the liquid. Let cook for 3 minutes, then place the lobsters on top of the rice, flesh side down. Cook over very high heat. Taste the fumet and season with salt, if necessary. Pour a little of the fumet into the mortar, and stir to thin the paste; pour this into the pan.
After 5 minutes, taste once more and adjust the amount of salt, if needed. Reduce the heat and remove and discard the bouquet garni bag. When the rice begins to rise to the surface, position the paella pan much further away from the heat source and continue cooking at a very gentle simmer.
Finish cooking the rice, allowing all the fumet that is left in the pan to evaporate. Taste to check whether the rice is cooked: it should be tender but still very slightly firm to the bite. If it is a little too firm, cover the paella with a clean, damp dish towel for 2–3 minutes to finish cooking. If it is much too firm, sprinkle a few tablespoons of hot water over the surface of the rice and continue cooking until the rice is tender.