How to Make Lobster Paella: A Taste of Spain

Let LobsterAnywhere transport you to sunny Spain with lobster paella recipe. Skip the hassle of flight delays and long lines at the airport. With a few tips and suggestions, you will be serving up this classic Spanish dish with confidence.

How to Make Lobster Paella
Grill master Paul Jimenez shows off his Lobster Paella made with two 2 pound whole lobsters par cooked.

Summer is here and people are getting together and enjoying being able to celebrate once again. There are certain dishes that instantly cause people to congregate, and paella is one of them. While there are many versions of paella, lobster paella takes the savory Valencian dish to luxurious levels.

This is a dish that can easily feed a crowd. It also allows you to utilize a luxury item like lobster and stretch it out so everyone can enjoy the sweet, succulent king of the sea. So mix up a batch of sangria, put on some flamenco music, and let’s break down making lobster paella.

What is Paella?

Paella is an iconic and classic Spanish dish native to the fourth most populous community of Spain, Valencia. The name paella actually refers to the shallow, wide frying pan that the dish is prepared in. Traditionally prepared over open fire, this rice-based dish is perfect for preparing on the grill while also being easy to prepare on the stove. Some less traditional recipes will actually call for you to finish cooking the rice in the oven.

The heart of paella begins with picking the right rice. Just like risotto uses short-grain arborio rice, paella is traditionally made with short grain bomba rice. You may also find it listed as Valencia rice. The rice gets its distinctive yellow color and slightly floral flavor from saffron. While saffron is the most expensive of spices, it only takes a pinch to transform the rice in both color and flavor and saffron is readily available from spice stores and even places like Trader Joe’s.

Lobster Paella Recipe
Seafood paella staring whole Maine lobster with clams, mussels, colossal shrimp, and sea scallops created by Paul Jimenez @bigpaulonthegrill

What Type of Lobster Should I Buy for Lobster Paella?

Every part of lobster is perfectly suited for being added to lobster paella. If you decide on our live Maine lobster, you are guaranteed to have the essence of lobster infused into every bite of paella. The shells can be used to reinforce the lobster flavor in your chicken or seafood stock. Simply add the shells to your stock and allow it to simmer, infusing it with flavor. You can also do the same with the shells from our Maine Grade A hard shell lobster tails.

However, you can always go with our frozen lobster meat. This will make it easy to have tender and succulent chunks of lobster in every bite. Our tail, claw, and knuckle meat is ideal for dishes such as lobster paella.

What are the Common Types of Paella

While the ingredients and combinations of both proteins and vegetables are endless for paella, there are three distinct varieties of paella.

  • Paella Valenciana – This is the most basic of paella. It begins by browning your meat, often chicken and chorizo, building that first layer of flavor. Next comes the vegetables and aromatics, such as onions and garlic. Water and saffron are added next and brought to a boil before the rice goes in. Unlike rice dishes such as pilaf, the rice for this preparation is not toasted or braised in oil.
  • Paella de Marisco – Lobster paella would fall under this category. Paella de marisco is a celebration of the gifts of the sea. Whether you’re adding clams, mussels, and shrimp, or going all out with calamari and cuttlefish, this paella is filled with seafood. It also uses seafood stock in place of the water. This is the perfect dish for all of your pescatarian family and friends.
  • Paella Mixta – This version of paella is like the surf and turf of paella. It combines both proteins such as chicken and sausage with seafood. Our sustainably sourced shrimp and our U-10/20 dayboat scallops are both great additions to this type of paella.
Seafood Paella recipe
Epic seafood paella from Nicole Stover of Beach Girl Grills featuring split lobster tails, sustainable colossal shrimp, and scallops

Playlist for Lobster Paella

For this version of paella, we’re going to keep the ingredients simple and make it all about that beautiful sweet, succulent lobster meat. Feel free to add in addition seafood for paella de marisco or additional proteins for paella mixta. Let the paella pan be your canvas to paint with your favorite flavors!

Ingredients

  • Paella pan – While it’s traditional to make lobster paella in a paella pan, not everyone has one. You will need a large skillet or cast iron pan. Remember that rice expands as it absorbs liquid.
  • Short grain rice – The most common rice for paella is Bomba rice. You can also use Arroz de Valencia or rice labeled for paella.
  • Saffron – This is what gives paella its signature canary color. The tiny threads are the stigma and styles of the crocus flower.
  • Olive oil
  • Aromatics – onions and garlic
  • Red bell peppers – These are optional but add a little additional sweetness that compliments the sweet meat of the lobster.
  • Paprika – You can use sweet paprika or smoked paprika, also called pimentón.
  • White wine – Use a dry white wine that you enjoy drinking, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. You can also omit the white wine and use all chicken stock/seafood stock, or try adding the sweet anise flavor of Pernod.
  • Chicken Stock/Seafood Stock – You can use either one. If you are using live lobsters to begin with, reserve the shells and add them to the stock to infuse even more lobster flavor.
  • Roma tomatoes – These will add both color and another layer of sweetness. If tomatoes aren’t in season you can add canned diced tomatoes that have been drained.
  • Fresh or Frozen Peas
  • Lobster – The star of the show and the main event! All portions of the lobster are ideal for making lobster paella, from whole live lobsters, to and knuckle and claw meat.
  • Other Seafood – Shrimp, scallops, mussels, calamari, and clams would all be great additions.
  • Chorizo – This is optional but brings a back note of savory heat to the paella. You want to use a dry Spanish style chorizo, not the fresh Mexican style. Linguica is a good substitution.
  • Lemon wedges
Lobster Paella cooked in a grill

How to Make Lobster Paella

With just a few simple steps and tips, you will be on your way to serving up the ultimate lobster paella feast!

Time needed: 1 hour.

Get out your paella pan or skillet, pop the bottle of cava, and invite friends over. You will have everyone saying olé to lobster paella.

  1. Pick the right pan

    Cooking the perfect paella starts with picking the right pan. You want something wide and deep enough to accommodate all of the rice and seafood. For a 2-4 person serving you will want a 12″ wide, 3″ deep frying pan or skillet. Cast iron works well for this as it evenly distributes the heat.

  2. Mise en Place

    Prepare all of your ingredients. This is the most labor-intensive part about making lobster paella. If you are using live lobster, you will want to humanely dispatch them. If you are adding clams and/or mussels to your paella, make sure you clean them well so they don’t add sand to your paella, and debeard the mussels.

  3. Fire it Up

    Preheat your paella pan or skillet. If you are cooking this on the stove, heat it over medium heat. If you are preparing your lobster paella on the grill create a two zone cooking space. Heat your paella pan over direct fire, but then move it to indirect. Depending on what recipe you use you may also transfer it to the oven to finish cooking.

  4. Cook your aromatics

    Heat your olive oil, and then add your onions and garlic. If you are using chorizo or sausage, add it at this point so it can release its oils and flavor every layer. Add your tomatoes along with the paprika and cook until they’ve released their juices and everything is fragrant.

  5. Arrange the Arroz

    Add your rice. Stir it so everything is evenly coated and distributed.

  6. Get Brothy

    Add your wine if using and allow it to cook off for 1-2 minutes before adding your broth. This will be the last time you stir the rice until it is finished cooking. By leaving it alone you’re allowing the rice to create the signature socarrat. This is the crispy, golden crust at the bottom of the pan. This is also the time to add the saffron. Lightly crumble the delicate fronds and sprinkle into the broth. The broth should cover the entire top of the rice. Bring to a simmer and allow the rice to absorb the broth. If it starts looking a little too dry add 1/4 cup more broth.

  7. Toppings

    Nestle the lobster and any other seafood into the top of the rice. Add the strips of red peppers along the top as well. Simmer until the rice is cooked.

  8. Finishing Touch

    Sprinkle in the peas and gently mix. Remove the paella from the heat and cover the top. Allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with lemon wedges.

Lobster Paella on the grill

Variations on Lobster Paella

There are endless additional add-ins you can add to your lobster paella. For heartier proteins like chicken thighs or legs, you will want to brown them at the same time your brown your aromatics, and then nestle them into the rice so they can cook through.

For delicate seafood like chunks of cod or mussels, you want to always add them when you add the broth to prevent over cooking, but also allow them to infuse every bite with flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions About Paella

What kind of rice do I need for lobster paella?

Arroz Bomba is the traditional rice for paella. You can also find it labeled as Valencia rice, arroz de Valencia, or paella rice.

What do I cook paella in?

Paella is traditionally prepared in a paella pan, however any wide skillet will work.

How long does it take to make lobster paella?

It depends on the recipe you are using, and also what kind of lobster you are using. Live lobsters will add a little additional time at the beginning for prep. The most labor intensive part of making paella is the chopping and cleaning of the ingredients.

Can I add other ingredients to lobster paella?

You can add your favorite seafood or other proteins like chicken and chorizo.

What is paella?

Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish from Valencia. It gets its name from the wide pan that its cooked it. It combines short grain rice that gets its trademark yellow color from saffron and endless varieties of add-ins. The trademark of paella is the crispy golden bottom that is called socarrat.

Can you make Lobster Paella on the grill?

You sure can. You can cook in a Dutch oven right on the open flames or a grill safe paella pan.

What cocktails and drinks do you serve with seafood paella?

Enjoy festive cocktails with your paella like red or white sangria, wine like a Riesling or local craft beer.

Final Thoughts on Lobster Paella

Whether you’re creating a lobster paella or going all out for the full paella de marisco experience bursting with seafood, it begins with the freshest dock to door seafood. From live lobsters fresh caught that day and delivered to your door within 24 hours to the sweetest succulent, sustainably sourced shrimp, let LobsterAnywhere help you curate a meal that will create a memory and have your friends and family talking for years to come.

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