Arroz de Mariscos – Portuguese Seafood Rice

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Ready in a flash: Portuguese seafood rice with clams, calamari and mussels
Ready in a flash: Portuguese seafood rice with clams, calamari and mussels

If you find paella a schlep to make, then quick ‘n’ easy arroz de mariscos is for you. A wonderful, soupy seafood-y rice dish of Portuguese origin, it’s comfort food and bowl food at its best. You can glam it up for special occasions by adding prawns, crayfish and saffron too.

I make this using the finest frozen seafood that I get variously from Willoughby & Co in the V & A Waterfront or Ocean’s Jewels Fish run by Julie Carter. Julie stocks and sells only top quality sustainably caught fish, mostly fresh, and she delivers free of charge throughout Cape Town and surrounding suburbs. Julie trades at Neighbourgood Market on Saturdays, and during the week from her bustling little shop/café at Woodstock Exchange. Drop in for a quick bite to eat, while Julie and her crew prepare your order of flipping fresh fish, seafood and shellfish to take home. I got the tender little baby calamari and mussels on the half shell from her, both sold frozen. Both cook in mere minutes, which makes them ideal ingredients to chuck into a seafood chowder, soup or this seafood rice.

Tonight, deep bowlfuls of arroz de mariscos, accompanied by perfectly chilled glasses of Glen Carlou Chardonnay 2013, made a lovely supper at the end of a long week. A few minutes in front of the stove, a  bit of stirring, and bam! you’re ready to eat.

NOTE: Order from Julie Carter: Ocean Jewels Fish

Arroz de Mariscos

Serves 4-6 generously


1 medium onion, peeled and very finely chopped

2 celery stalks, very finely chopped (I just pulse both onion and celery in the food processor until very finely minced)

3 T (45 ml) olive oil

1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine

3 bay leaves

1 can (420 g) chopped tomatoes in juice

1 cup (250 ml) tomato passata or puree

300g – 450g frozen clams, rinsed briefly in a colander under cold running water

450g frozen baby calamari, thawed

300g frozen mussels on the half shell

1 cup (250 ml) white rice (not risotto rice, just plain white rice)

1 cup (250ml) boiling water

salt and pepper to taste

fresh Italian parsley, to garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed cast iron pot and cook the onion with the celery until softened but not brown.
  2. Add the frozen clams, stir well and put the lid on the put. Cook over mild heat for 10-12 minutes.
  3. Add the wine, bay leaves, tomatoes and passata. Cook briskly for 5–7 minutes.
  4. Add the rice, stir well, turn the heat to medium and cook for 12 minutes. Keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot so the rice doesn’t stick.
  5. Meanwhile, rinse the calamari in a colander under cold running water. Shake off excess water and slice the calamari into wide rings. Leave the tentacles whole. Add to the pot and stir to mix thoroughly. Cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the mussels, season well with salt and pepper and cook gently until the rice is tender but not mushy. Scatter over lots of chopped fresh parsley, add a little spritz of lemon juice and serve piping hot in bowls. A drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil wouldn’t go amiss.
Arroz de Mariscos - easy Portuguese seafood rice
Arroz de Mariscos – easy Portuguese seafood rice
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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.