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Going rogue on paella - some feedback please

So I'm taking my basic paella recipe and going a bit nuts with it. If you're a purist, please don't chastise me - I know this isn't biblically authentic but I'm ok with that. My paella usually includes chicken thighs, chorizo, shrimp and mussels. This time I'm removing the chicken altogether and halving the amount of chorizo. Adding 2 small cooked lobsters and want to use scallops in addition to the shrimp. May or may not use mussels - I'll see what they look like at the store today. Here are my questions: Should I remove the lobster meat from the shells or just chop up the lobster and add the chunks to the rice? The claws, I think, I'll leave intact, in any case. And I'm thinking I should sear the scallops before adding them to the paella in mid-cook. I don't like gelatinous scallops and that's what I'm afraid I'll get if they're not seared first. On the other hand, I don't want them overcooked either.

I start the paella on the stove top to the point that the rice has come to a simmer, then finish it in the oven. I add the shrimp (and mussels) when it goes into the oven. Any advice here would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. I would sear the scallops and add them to the paella maybe 3/4 of the way into the cook. But I prefer my scallops *just* done. And I think I would do the same with the lobsters. Cut them into roughly the same size as the scallops, do a quick saute/sear on them and throw them on top the same time as the scallops, as they'd take about the same amount of time to cook. :)

    1. I think you have a sterling idea. If you intend to make this a formal presentation where you'd use silverware for the meal, I'd remove the lobster from the shells. Otherwise, if it's a "grab and growl" meal where you'd eat with your hands, leaving the lobster intact seems appropriate. I'd brown the scallops and hold them back, adding them just before serving. I'm not a fan of chorizo in any form so I can't speak to that except to say that, if I did like chorizo, I wouldn't use it in this dish.

      1. Good idea to sear the scallops and you're correct to pay attention to their cooking time so they don't get overdone and rubbery. As to the lobster, I'd shell it (especially the claws) which should make for a better looking presentation and avoid having to wrestle with rice-covered lobster shells at the table.

        I do the whole thing on the stove to get a good crust on the bottom, covering the pan with foil after I add the shellfish.

        Here are a couple of recent versions, one mariscada (shrimp & scallops), one with chicken chorizo (had Muslims in the house, ergo no pork) and one with chicken thighs

         
         
         
        4 Replies
          1. re: inaplasticcup

            Thanks -- its a remarkably useful dish and a total no brainer. I've almost always got the basics (ex. clams & mussels) in the freezer/pantry so its a good last minute dish. The IQF shrimp and scallops from Costco are very handy to have around and very good quality.

            1. re: inaplasticcup

              Really - fabulous. Thanks for the inspiration.

            2. re: rjbh20

              Seriously drooling. On my list of great food

            3. Ok great thanks everyone. Will sear scallops and add them late. Will inspect lobster (maybe remove some of the meat and leave the more decorative bits intact). Didn't get mussels - you had to buy a whole bag of them and I would only have wanted maybe a dozen or so. And their clams weren't right. So none of that. Off we go!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Nyleve

                When I've faced your mussel dilemma, I get the whole bag, use what i need, then steam the rest a la moules marienere. Take the meat out of the shells & freeze with the broth -- makes a nice pasta sauce or seafood soup base. Same with clams.

                1. re: rjbh20

                  Ah well. Didn't do that. It'll be fine even though I would have liked a few shelly things in there.

              2. IMO Pork and shellfish are one of those classic flavor combos, so I'd vote yes on the chorizo. I would also leave the lobster in the shell because this would add flavor to the dish as it cooks. You can chop the tails into medallions with a cleaver leaving the shell intact and still have smaller portions to distribute evenly. And I'm with you 100% on the parcooking of the scallops. Give them a hard sear and place them in the rice for the last few minutes of cooking.

                1 Reply
                1. re: d8200

                  Too late on the lobster - I've de-shelled most of it but left the bodies intact and will arrange them with swimmerets dangling menacingly. Even that alone may add some flavour. Also I'm using lobster stock that I had frozen from the last time we had a lobster-fest at home, so plenty of shellfish flavour. As for the chorizo, I'm going to add it because to me it always says paella, whether it's proper or not. Scallops are draining on paper towels and will sear them before adding. This is a birthday dinner so I want it all very wonderful. Also serving grilled quails which I am marinating and homemade sourdough bread. Dessert is a maple pecan tart (request from birthday boy) even though I probably would have preferred something lighter.

                2. Just wanted to let you know that the paella turned out fantastic. I prepared the sofrito and browned the chorizo ahead of time and seared the scallops just before making the paella. I wish I had taken a picture of the lobsters emerging from the middle of the pan. Everyone loved the dinner. Thanks for the help.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Nyleve

                    That's great! I wish you had taken a picture too...

                    1. re: Nyleve

                      Glad it turned out fantastic. Hard to miss with that list of ingredients. Really there is no set list of ingredients for paella. Each person makes it based on the ingredients available to them.

                    2. Thank you for coming back and telling us how it came out.