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Seafood quinoa or quinoa paella {Quinua marinera}

My recipe for seafood quinoa, a quinoa paella style dish made with quinoa cooked in seafood broth and sautéed with shrimp, clams, squid, scallops, onions, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro and spices.

Quinua marinera or seafood quinoa

En Español

It was hard to come up with a translated 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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Quinoa seafood paella

This seafood quinoa or quinoa style paella, also known as quinua marinera or quinua con mariscos, is made with quinoa cooked in a seafood broth and sautéed with shrimp, clams, squid, bay scallops, onions, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro and spices.

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 – the delicious flavor will the same.

Quinoa paella

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. If you’re making this for a more formal event, where people don’t want to peel the shrimp with their hands then you can peel the shrimp. You can use the shells for the broth to cook the quinoa.

Only my French husband is a pro at peeling a shrimp using a fork and knife, and even then he only gets half of the shrimp meat out. Also this recipe can made with any combination of seafood that is available to you.

Quinua marinera or seafood quinoa

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.
4.78 from 35 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Andean, Ecuadorian, Latin American, Latin fusion, South American
Keyword: Quinoa, Quinoa paella, Seafood, Seafood quinoa
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8


  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa pre-washed
  • 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 cook the quinoa:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat in a saucepan
  • Add the 2 tablespoons of chopped onion and the crushed garlic clove, and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  • 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.

For the seafood quinoa or quinoa paella:

  • Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil on medium heat in a large sauté pan.
  • Add the chopped onions and crushed garlic, stir frequently and cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cumin, achiote or annatto powder, diced bell pepper, and a bit of salt and pepper.
  • Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add ½ of the finely chopped cilantro, stir in well.
  • Add the raw shrimp and the clams, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the cooked quinoa, peas, calamari and bay scallops, cook until the seafood is done, no longer than 5 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ½ of the chopped cilantro, and additional salt or pepper if needed.
  • Serve with fried ripe plantains, tomato and onion curtido or salad, avocado, lime slices, and aji criollo or hot sauce.
Quinua marinera or seafood quinoa
Mixed seafood with 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 paella
Quinoa cooked with mixed seafood
Seafood quinoa
Seafood quinoa

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

  2. 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.

    1. 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 rice.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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!!!

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