The ultimate Maine (sea) Foodie dish could not be more fresh and local than beans from the garden, farmed scallops, mussels, and lobsters all just harvested from the bay!
Paella is a wonderful traditional dish from Spain, metamorphosed into a seafood specialty on the coasts. To do it right ideally requires a special shallow flat pan and a soft round rice called bomba. (You could substitute the more available Arborio rice.)
The final touch is saffron, famous as the world’s most expensive spice. Its golden color and distinctive but subtle earthy, slightly floral, flavors come from the stamens handpicked from crocus flower. (Turmeric is the most often suggested downscale substitution.)
A few strands soaked for 15 minutes in the stock you wish to use will do for the whole recipe. You begin by making a sofrito (soft slow stir-fry). Finely dice onion and some tomato and lightly cook till soft in olive oil. Sweet paprika is the traditional addition but you may choose to use smoked paprika. Similarly, garlic is quite usual and sweet red peppers, white wine, and a pinch of bay or rosemary are common additions. Salt to taste.
When your sofrito is a nice jammy consistency, add your pre-heated stock. Stir in the rice (you may have sautéed that first too) and give it a few swirls. After that initial mixing, you do not stir so that a crisp rice crust forms on the bottom of the pan- the especially-coveted soccarat. Simmer slowly.
But wait. What about the seafood? You will not be surprised to learn that you precook the lobster and shell it. (If you are lucky enough to have soft-shell, too delicate to ship shedders, be sure to save any of the white gummy undifferentiated protein for the stock.) You will probably want to use just the claws for this dish and save the tails for another meal— the tender, sweet, whole scallops are actually the star of this paella. Steam the farmed scallops just until they open and then remove the scallops so you can remove the black digestive gland. It looks nice to put some of the meats back in the scallop shells for decoration. The same goes for slightly steamed mussels. This may seem like a lot of fuss but this is a spectacular dish and worth every minute of preparation.
When the rice is nearly done, remove the pan from the heat and top it with the pre-cooked seafoods. You may wish to add pre-cooked beans, artichoke hearts, and smoked red pepper bits in decorative patterns. Slip the whole pan into a pre-heated oven for just long enough to warm the seafood.
Serve garnished with lemon wedges if you wish. A crusty bread and a rosé wine complete this Maine-made paella feast.