When the opportunity presents itself, ordering a seafood tower is one of the most deliciously decadent ways to begin a meal. Beautifully presented, this tiered cornucopia of seafood (or, in French fruits de mer) is an old-school dish that has been appearing on more fish-forward menus recently. But, with just a bit more effort and time, you can have this luxurious at home, with just a few ingredients (many of which can be prepared ahead!) and some assembly. So, without further ado, our tips and tricks for assembling a gorgeous homemade seafood platter:
The nice thing about this over-the-top creation is that you can follow your whims when it comes to different items. If you prefer certain kinds of seafood more than others—shrimp over clams, for example—you can load up on those! If you’re more inclined to serve raw fish rather than cooked, you can keep it to ingredients that are best-served ice cold and uncooked. Pro tip: if you’re planning this feast ahead of time, call your fishmonger or local grocery store and make sure they have everything, or can order it for when you’ll need it. That way, you can one stop shop. Here, some of our favorite things to include:
Freshly shucked oysters are a classic addition to a seafood platter, and a simple one, because they require very little preparation! Shuck them right (and we mean RIGHT) before serving, and, if you like, include a mix of East and West coast.
Not only is shrimp easy to prepare, it’s a total crowd pleaser. For a seafood platter, we recommend keeping it simple, shrimp cocktail style. We’re big fans of this recipe, which just features shrimp poached in water flavored with lemon, peppercorns, onion, and bay leaves. You can make the shrimp up to one day ahead, chill, and serve.
It’s no surprise that this classy decapod is a staple of seafood platters, as it really is the height of decadence. Cooking lobsters is a bit of a process (but definitely not a difficult one), and removing from the shell just takes some patience. If you’re feeling fancy but less inclined to work so hard, pick up some pre-cooked lobster tails.
Clams are always a nice addition to the platter and also require very little preparation (read: serve them raw or steam them).
Crab legs are by no means an essential, but they definitely class up anything, even something as inherently chic as a seafood tower. Blue claw or king crab work well, and they can be purchased frozen and easily cooked (just boil ’em!).
You can go as nuts as you want with seafood plateaus, from including ceviche, mussels, tuna tartare, and more! If you do, have fun with the presentation—ceviche is a perfect thing to serve in a little hollowed out fruit or veggie cup, and tuna tartare looks all the more classy on a crisp round of cucumber.
Garnishes are almost as much a part of the seafood tower experience as the crustaceans themselves. Fill small ramekins or tiny little bowls with the sauces and other garnishes.
Cocktail sauce is a must-have on a seafood platter, as it’s a typical condiment for oysters and shrimp cocktail. Save yourself the time, and buy a high-quality store-bought version. If you like an extra kick, add some horseradish (sauce or grated) to the platter as well or stir some into the sauce.
Whether you slice them into rounds or cut one into wedges, lemons are essential on a seafood platter. They’re squeezed over everything, and add a zingy component to the briny seafood.
This pungent, acidic condiment is easy to prepare and the vinegary-shallot mixture is a staple for serving oysters. This recipe makes enough for a dozen oysters.
For a creamy addition to the platter that’s perfect for dipping lobster in, consider making garlicky aioli or, if you’re not feeling the mayo-from-scratch thing, simply add some garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to store-bought mayonnaise. If spiciness is your jam, try our Sriracha-miso mayo.
The assembly of a seafood tower is the fun part. Preferably, use a multi-tiered platter, or stick with just one platter if you don’t need too much room. Go for stainless steel, as it’ll stay cool. Layer ice on top, then place seafood and garnishes on the ice. Serve tout suite.
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