This seafood rice recipe, also known as Arroz marinero or Arroz con mariscos, is a delicious Latin American dish made with rice cooked in seafood broth and sautéed with shrimp, clams, squid, bay scallops, onions, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro and spices. I like to call this dish the South American/Latin cousin of Spanish seafood paella. When you look at this arroz marinero or seafood rice, it’s likely that the first thing you thought was, oh it’s a paella. Well, it’s very similar and has the same main ingredients: rice and seafood.
However, there are differences in the type of rice, the herbs and the spices that make it a different dish. Paella is made with short grain rice, while arroz marinero uses a long grain rice. Paella uses saffron to give the rice that reddish orange color, while arroz marinero uses achiote or annatto to also give a slightly reddish color, saffron has more distinct taste that it gives paella, while achiote is more subtle and earthy.
Paella uses a small amount of garlic and parsley, while the base flavors of arroz marinero require a lot of garlic and cilantro. Traditional paella is also likely to include chicken thighs and Spanish chorizo, while arroz marinero is strictly seafood. I don’t use peas in this seafood rice recipe; however it is common to find them in both this dish as well as Spanish paella. I also posted a quinoa version of seafood rice a while ago, if you’re looking for a healthier alternative or a new way to try quinoa, you can try that recipe.
I used about 4lbs of assorted seafood – shrimp, calamari, bay scallops, mussels, and clams – for this recipe, which will serve 8-10 people; you choose the type of seafood and quantities of each according to your preference. I also used 2 types of shrimp, small peeled ones and larger ones with the shells on – these give the rice additional flavor and also have a add a nice visual appeal to the dish. Arroz marinero or seafood rice is typically served with fried plantains, either ripe sweet ones or green savory ones called patacones or tostones, avocados slices, lime slices, cebollas curtidas or red pickled onions, and of course, a good aji or hot sauce.