How To Throw the Best Seafood Party this Holiday Season

How To Throw the Best Seafood Party this Holiday Season

Traditional Christmas dinners might be filled with meat, but adding a few seafood holiday dishes to your big meal lightens and brightens the night, serving shellfish appetizers adds elegant touches to any sophisticated holiday soirée, and splashing out with a saltwater spread is the ultimate December dinner.

An Italian-style Feast of Seven Fishes—a seafood-heavy Christmas Eve meal—provides a good excuse to see just how many different holiday seafood dishes you can lavish on your guests. The origins of the idea are murky, but it makes sense: lots of seafood is at its best in the holiday season, the silvers and reds of many fish and shellfish match the décor, and it doesn’t take much work to make it feel fancy.

Whether you want to keep it classic with shrimp cocktail and a smoked salmon platter for the Christmas feast or you want to change it all the way up with a crab extravaganza to crack open the new year, here’s an ocean’s worth of holiday seafood menu ideas for you.

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A chilled seafood appetizer to greet guests takes the pressure off the host, as it can be prepared ahead of time and jut pulled it out when folks arrive. Arranging smoked salmon on a platter takes almost no effort, but you can add a little something extra to the tray by also including smoked mussels and scallops. For a more elaborate holiday seafood dishes, set out freshly shucked oysters with lemon slices and a little mignonette or prepare salmon rillettes with toast points.

Sides that go Swimmingly

One of the best ways to work a little bit of seafood into a big meal, especially if you have traditionalists who don’t want you messing with the main, is to incorporate it into your side dishes. A classic oyster stuffing adds a touch of fanciness to an often-ordinary dish, and a little smoked salmon crumbled onto a salad takes it from everyday to holiday. If you’re looking to impress, try the “wow” factor of a regal king crab quiche or go high with a salmon souffle.

Saltwater Centerpiece

Moving into the mains, look for the kinds of seafood holiday dishes that can really serve as an eye-catching centerpiece: a big pile of bright red Dungeness crab served with drawn butter for dipping, a whole side of silky slow-roasted citrus salmon, fresh whole trout, or for individually plated dinners, a lobster tail for each person.