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.
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.
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.