Seafood quinoa or quinoa paella {Quinua marinera}

Quinua marinera or seafood quinoa

This seafood quinoa or quinoa style paella, also known as quinua marinera, is made with quinoa cooked in a seafood broth and sautéed with shrimp, clams, squid, bay scallops, onions, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro and spices. It was hard to come up with a name for this dish; I was inspired by the Ecuadorian arroz marinero or seafood rice which is a very typical dish in the coastal region of Ecuador. Also, since quinoa has more tenderness to it than the long grain rice we use for seafood rice, I was also inspired by thought of a good seafood risotto. The first impression by my friends who tasted this seafood quinoa was that it reminded them of paella. 

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Seafood quinoa or quinoa paella {Quinua marinera}
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Yield: For ~8 people

Seafood quinoa or quinoa paella {Quinua marinera}

Seafood quinoa or quinoa paella recipe made with seafood broth and sautéed with shrimp, clams, squid, scallops, onions, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro and spices.


  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa, prewashed
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups seafood broth
  • For the seafood quinoa:
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 garlic heads, peeled and crushed
  • 1 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground achiote or annatto, use paprika as a replacement if needed
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, deveined and with shells on
  • 1 lb small clams, well cleaned
  • 1 lb squid or calamari, both tubes and tentacles, cut in small pieces
  • ½ lb bay scallops
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • To serve:
  • Fried ripe plantains
  • Tomato and onion curtido
  • Avocado slices
  • Lime slices
  • Aji criollo hot sauce


    To cook the quinoa:
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat in a saucepan
  2. Add the 2 tablespoons of chopped onion and the crushed garlic clove, and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the quinoa and the seafood broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water has evaporated and quinoa is tender, save for later.
  4. For the seafood quinoa or quinoa paella:
  5. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil on medium heat in a large sauté pan.
  6. Add the chopped onions and crushed garlic, stir frequently and cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the cumin, achiote or annatto powder, diced bell pepper, and a bit of salt and pepper.
  8. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  9. Add ½ of the finely chopped cilantro, stir in well.
  10. Add the raw shrimp and the clams, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
  11. Stir in the cooked quinoa, peas, calamari and bay scallops, cook until the seafood is done, no longer than 5 minutes.
  12. Add the remaining ½ of the chopped cilantro, and additional salt or pepper if needed.
  13. Serve with fried ripe plantains, tomato and onion curtido or salad, avocado, lime slices, and aji criollo or hot sauce.

You could say that arroz marinero is the South American cousin of Spanish paella (but that’s another story and another recipe). So you could also consider it a variation of paella (even though it doesn’t have saffron, chicken or chorizo which are used in a traditional paella). You can call it whatever you prefer: seafood quinotto (this sounds the sexiest to me), quinoa paella, or seafood quinoa; it won’t change the delicious flavor that it has.

 Quinoa paella Mixed seafood with quinoa

Regardless of the name, it was a success and the quinoa took in the flavors of the seafood and spices even better than the rice usually does. I decided ultimately to go with seafood quinoa as the name, mainly because it goes very well with the sides that are typically served with the seafood rice: plantains, tomato and onion curtido, avocado, lime slices and hot sauce (a good cold beer or a glass of pinot are also good accompaniments). I left the shells on the shrimp because it adds more flavor to the quinoa. This was prepared for a casual party with good friends, but if you’re making this for a more formal event, where people don’t want to peel the shrimp with their hands (only my French husband can actually peel a shrimp using a fork and knife, and even then he only gets half of the shrimp meat out), then I recommend peeling the shrimp. Also this seafood quinoa dish can made with any combination of seafood that is available to you.

Quinua marinera or seafood quinoa

Related recipes:
Recipe for fried ripe plantains 
Recipe for tomato and onion curtido salsa 
Recipe for aji criollo hot sauce 

 Seafood quinoa or quinoa seafood paellaQuinoa cooked with mixed seafood

Seafood quinoa Seafood quinoa

Quinoa seafood paella

This post was last modified: August 18th, 2016 by Layla Pujol


  1. That’s just one whole jaw dropping recipe. Must make this as it looks like one special meal up say the least.

  2. Just made this dish and it was delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

  3. when making Quinoa when it is boiling do you let it boil over high until the broth is gone, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer like rice or do you only let it get to a boil and than simmer.

    • Both options work, for the first option the liquid doesn’t reduce the way it does with rice, so I just let it get to the point where the liquid reduces a little and then simmer like the rice.

  4. Whoa, this dish looks really tasty. I was looking for a seafood dish for the upcoming week and i think I’ll make this. Definitely will add it to my recipe box. Can’t wait to share it with my family. Thanks for sharing

  5. This recipe is beyond my expectations! On Friday de Quaresma I was looking for a recipe to use seafood. My husband is in a low carb diet, so paella or arroz con mariscos are not the best option, but protein rich quinoa will be welcome. This is going to be sensational! Thank you

  6. Very interesting. WE will try it for more than 100. Qould appreciate your giving how many this serves so that guesswork is less, for me : ) Louise

    This will serve 8-10 people.

  7. Katherine says:

    I made this for my husband tonight and he LOVED it! I am Ecuadorian first generation born in the US and love the recipes you have on here!!!

  8. Holy crap this looks delicious! Saved

  9. This looks awesome! What a great idea to use quinoa instead of rice!

  10. Lovely dish and a great use of quinoa!

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