What is Mariscada?
June 14, 2021

Growing up in Southern Texas, I ate Mexican, Portuguese, and Spanish dishes from a young age, and Mariscad was often on the menu. Mariscada is a historical dish that many don't know or understand, unless you grew up with it. Mariscada is one of those home-cooked comfort foods that will leave you both satiated and begging for more.


Mariscada was created in Spain centuries ago and brought to the Americas during the time of the Conquistadors. Mariscada is difficult to describe because if you go to 10 Spanish homes, you'll most likely get 10 different recipes. Think of it like middle America eats beef stew, with thousands of different combinations of veggies, spices, and cooking times. 

For the sake of understanding, a Mariscada is basically a seafood stew that includes any combination of scallops, shrimp, fresh salmon, squid, and clams. One of the most important ingredients, in my opinion, is the saffron cooked into the rice to produce a bright red flavor. It also provides the bedrock for the flavor festival, which is seafood cooked on a grill. 

Think of Mariscada as a Mexican stew that is heavily influenced by Spanish and Portuguese cooking. Saffron is an Indian ingredient known by chefs and restaurants as the single most expensive spice you can cook with. It's incredibly labor-intensive to harvest saffron, but if you've had it, you understand why it's upwards of $500 per ounce. Very few ingredients can turn bland rice into a bed of flavor that you can't get enough of, like saffron.

What’s the Difference Between Paella and Mariscada?

If you ask a Spanish Grandma this question, you might get into trouble, but it's not our fault we don't know everything. To dispel any misinformation, Paella distinguishes itself with its crispy rice at the bottom of a pan with both seafood and other meats, such as sausage, beef, or chicken. Paella will always be dry as you eat it because the rice needs to be crispy with many different contrasts with crunchy bits of rice and cheese to charred meat. Mariscada should never be dry and doesn't offer that crunchiness.

Why Should I Order the Mariscada at Parrandos?

The Parrando’s Mariscada is one of the most authentic dishes you could ever order in any restaurant. Mariscada is one of those dishes that’s extremely difficult to find because it takes an experienced chef many hours to cook each batch. It's also tough to find fresh scallops, clams, and squid. The fact that we're able to put this dish on a menu shows our confidence in our chef's skills and our desire to provide a unique dining experience that very few get to enjoy. 

My favorite part of Mariscada (by far) is the seafood broth poured over the dish. The amount of flavor in this broth is developed from many hours of marrying the oils with the juices. Similar to Italian cooking with tomato sauce, this dish only gets better with more time and love.