This lobster rice is one of our favourite dishes and in Spanish it’s called “arroz con bogavante” which directly translates to rice with lobster. If you want to impress or you want someone to be your slave for life than lobster rice will do it so proceed with caution.
M and I have an annual pilgrimage every summer to this little town called Rinlo in the north of Spain. Our routine is the same every year and it’s a must or else it just doesn’t feel like summer. We and some friends drive to this town to have arroz con bogavante and too much white wine. We then proceed to a great beach nearby and have our afternoon siesta and a dip in the Atlantic is also a must for M. We then spend the night in another town close by and have dinner at a typical tavern and eat octopus, salad, and some other local fare. We’ve been doing this for the last 5 years and it’s always one of our best summer memories, every single year.
We also had lunch at a friends place this summer and they also served arroz con bogavante. The chef told me how he made it and I decided that I’d give it a try with my own special touches. Unfortunately this dish is not the most photogenic on the planet and my photographing skills aren’t the greatest but this dish really is a crowd pleaser.
The shrimp stock is super important and it’s what gives the dish its characteristic flavor. You need all the shells and heads of your prawns to make this stock. You can’t make good stock without the shrimp heads because that’s where all the flavor is.
This shrimp rice isn’t dry like paella nor is it soupy like other rice dishes in Spain called “arroz caldoso”. This is a creamy rice and it’s actually quite easy to make. Paella takes more practice cause you have to figure out the perfect water to rice ratio so that your rice is dry but cooked through. If you see that your rice is too dry then just add a ladle of stock and keep cooking. This makes this lobster dish way more forgiving than traditional paella.
You also need to use a Spanish variety of rice called “arroz bomba”. Why? I don’t know but it’s just not the same without it and bomba rice is readily available online. I also used “carabinero” shrimp in this dish but it’s not required. You can just sub some large prawns with the heads on (always with the heads) or add more lobster, whatever works for your family.
I serve this with one of our favourite white wines called Terras Gaudas. Make sure your wine is very cold and stays on ice while you’re enjoying this amazing meal. You can serve this with any Albariño variety of white wine because Albariño is perfect with seafood and a sure bet.
- 3/4 cup onion, finely chopped (approx. half a large onion)
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/3 cup red pepper, finely chopped (approx. half a red pepper)
- 3 Tbsp. + 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 fresh lobster*
- 500 gr. /1 lb. large raw shrimp**
- 200 gr. / 7 ounces fresh carabinero shrimp with the shells and heads on (or just use large prawns or add more lobster)
- 1/2 tsp. / 2.5 gr. sweet smoked paprika.***
- 1/8 tsp. / 0.6 gr. saffron****
- 750 ml to 1 litre / 3 ½ to 4 cups shrimp stock (recipe below)
- 200 gr. / 7 oz. bomba rice
- salt to taste
- Heat the shrimp stock in a medium saucepan and keep the heat on while you’re preparing the rest of the lobster rice.
- Heat 3 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil on high in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot.
- Slice the lobster down the middle.
- Add the lobster to the pot with the shell side up and brown but don’t cook it all the way through. Remove and set aside.
- Please note that you don’t want to cook the seafood all the way through because it will finish cooking with the rice. I find that searing the seafood first just adds a bit more flavour to the final dish.
- Add the shrimp to the pot and cook the shrimp until they are just cooked through and are a little golden brown. Remove and add to the lobster.
- Add the carabinero shrimp (or large prawns) and cook until they’re just cooked through as well. Remove and add to the rest of the seafood.
- Lower the heat to medium and add 3 more Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil to the same pot. Add the onions once the oil is heated. Sweat the onions until they are translucent, approximately 5 minutes (you don’t want to brown the onions).
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the red pepper and cook until the pepper is soft, about 5 more minutes.
- Add the smoked paprika (pimentón) and stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the rice and stir the rice until it is coated with all the olive oil. You cook it for about 1 minute.
- Increase the heat to high and add about 3 ½ cups of the hot shrimp stock, add the saffron, salt, and all the seafood. Bring the stock to a boil and cook for about 9 minutes on high heat.
- Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 9 minutes. The rice should still have a bit of a bite to it. Add more stock if you see the lobster rice is too dry. You don’t stir the dish up while it’s cooking. Just let it cook unattended unless you need to add more stock.
- Remove front the heat. Cover and let stand for five minutes. You need to let this dish stand for five minutes however it needs to be served immediately after. This dish cannot be cooked ahead of time therefore if you’re making this for friends, ensure you time it perfectly. I usually add the rice once my guests arrive or while everyone is enjoying the appetizers.
- This dish serves 2 hungry people or three not very hungry people or three who stuffed their faces on appetizers. My formula is 100 gr. of rice per person and the ratio of rice to liquid for this recipe is approximately 1:2.5.
- *Fresh lobsters need to be killed before cooking them in this dish which means you have two options. The first is to just cut it up with a knife which I was too chicken to do. The second is to just freeze them which is the route I took and I still felt bad about it but at least I could sleep at night.
- ** The shells and shrimp heads from these shrimp were used in the shrimp stock. If you make the stock more than a day in advance then you can just freeze the shrimp and then defrost when you’re ready to make the lobster rice.
- *** I use a Spanish variety called “pimentón de vera”. which is the best kind of pimentón.
- **** It’s important to use good quality saffron. I know saffron is expensive but a little goes a long way and it really makes a difference in the flavour department.
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 3 Tbsp. + 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 750 gr. / 1.5 lbs large shrimps* (with the shells and shrimp heads on)
- 1 cup white wine, make sure this wine is decent enough to drink
- 2 litres / 8 cups water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add 3 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil to a large pot and heat on medium heat. Add all the vegetables and cook through and a little brown. Cook for approximately 10 minutes.
- While the vegetables are sautéing, peel and devein the large shrimp. Keep all the shells and heads and set the shrimp meat aside.
- Remove the cooked vegetables and add the other 3 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil and increase the heat to high and brown all the shrimp shells and shrimp heads. Stir and break up the heads with a wooden spoon. Brown the shrimp for about 5 to 7 minutes, until it’s fragrant.
- Add the cooked vegetables, wine, water, and salt and pepper to the shrimp shells.
- Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for one hour.
- Strain the stock into a large bowl or another pot through a fine mesh colander. Press the ingredients in your colander with the back of a spoon. With a clean spoon, wipe the bottom of the sieve and add this to the stock. Repeat until the mixture in the colander is completely dry. Throw away the contents in the colander and keep your stock in the fridge for up to two days or freeze.
- * You have to make the shrimp stock with the shrimp heads because that’s where all the flavour is and it’s what gives this stock it’s deep seafood flavour.
- ** I like to make this stock two days in advance of making my lobster rice.
- This recipe makes about 1600 ml/6.5 cups of stock.