Coast Cooking

Consider a seafood Christmas meal with these handy recipes

Always serve oysters Rockefeller with wedges of lemon.
Always serve oysters Rockefeller with wedges of lemon. Special to the Sun Herald

Everyone knows what a traditional American Christmas meal consists of, but you might be surprised at what Christmas feasts consists of in other parts of the world.

In the United Kingdom it might be Beef Wellington and a Christmas pudding, the French might have a roasted goose and foie gras and in Mexico you might have chiles rellenos and tamales.

Roasted turkey is the American favorite, but it doesn’t have to be.

Considering the abundance of fresh seafood available on the Coast, there is no reason not to add a seafood component or make the main attraction a seafood event.

In some cultures, there is a fish course served just before the meat or main course. So it’s not an unprecedented idea. Remember that adding multiple courses will extend your time at the table. Nobody wants to rush through a holiday feast anyway.

Spicy shrimp tossed in pasta, a delicious seafood stew loaded with two or three kinds of fish (as in bouillabaisse), a seafood gratin or even an old-school shrimp cocktail would be wonderful choices, but here are three recipes that I think go particularly well for the holidays.

Oysters Rockefeller

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup bread crumbs, Panko preferred

4-6 chopped green onions

2 cups chopped fresh spinach (or any other green you like)

Salt and pepper as desired

Pinch red pepper flakes

Olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

2 dozen oysters

2 dozen oyster on the half shells

Sauté the garlic in butter for just a minute or two, make sure not to burn it, or all will be lost. Pour off half the melted butter and add the breadcrumbs in a separate pan, then mix well. Add the green onions and spinach to the pan with the garlic butter and cook until the spinach is wilted. Season aggressively with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Now add the olive oil and Parmesan. Load the shells (one oyster each, unless they are small, then add another one to make a mouthful) with the green mixture, and top with the seasoned breadcrumbs. Bake at 450 f. until golden brown and serve at once.

Crab cakes

1 pound crabmeat

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

3-4 chopped green onions

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1-2 lemons, cut into wedges

2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic

1-3 pinches red pepper flakes

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

Butter as needed

Pick the crab meat and make sure there are no pieces of shell. Combine all the ingredients, excluding the crab and mix well. Taste and season as needed. Don’t be shy, crab cakes should be a bit spicy. Now add the crab and mix carefully, being sure not to break up the lumps. Form into cakes and fry in butter until well-browned. Serve with lemon wedges.

Whole fish with crab garnish

1 whole fish, 2-3 pounds (speckled trout, red fish, flounder)

Lump crab

1 chopped onion

2-3 chopped celery sticks

2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro


Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes

1 whole lemon, cut into slices

Olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 400 f. Sauté the onion and celery in butter, season to your taste, cook for 5 minutes. Add the crab and mix well, but be careful not to break up the crab lumps. Stuff the fish with the mixture. Coat an oven-proof pan with oil, place the stuffed fish on it, top with the sliced lemon and bake until the fish will flake easily, about 20 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Serve at once.