Do you know what I’m thankful for? The ability to get fresh seafood in areas far from the ocean. Historically, seafood was a very regional offering based on what was available at that specific time and place.
That’s no longer the case. And that means you should open up to the world of the most popular seafood dishes from all over.
You can explore the traditional flavors of New England clam chowder, lobster rolls, and clam bake even if you’re thousands of miles away. Or perhaps you’d like to get a taste of Hawaiian poke, a delicious take on raw tuna.
If that’s not your taste, don’t worry. There is sure to be something on this list of 17 popular seafood dishes. I’ll show you the way to gaining enlightenment about the best seafood around, what it takes to create it, and the rundown on how to prepare it the best.
Check out some of the most popular seafood meals, whether you’re an avid seafood lover or you’re new to eating fish.
Seafood doesn’t have to be complicated. Throw a lot of it into a pot, add some basic ingredients, and you can make a delicious, mouth-watering meal.
Cioppino is an Italian-American dish that was first made popular in San Francisco.
It’s the perfect way to use the fresh catch of the day or any scrap lying around, such as shrimp, scallops, crab, clams, and fish.
Add the seafood mixture and some tomatoes in wine sauce, and serve with a healthy portion of sourdough bread to soak up all the juice. It is divine.
If you want to know what goes best with tartar sauce, crab cakes might be the answer.
They are a small patty made from crab, panko, mayonnaise, egg, celery, and whatever you’d like to use to boost the flavor.
Some people swear by using a bit of dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce; others go for one of the all-time favorite seasonings for any one of the popular seafood dishes, Old Bay. I like a bit of everything.
Pack it all together into slider-like patties, then pan fry them to perfection, and dip them into your favorite tartar sauce.
I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to oysters. Crack them open, serve them on the half shell, and add a dollop of horseradish, and I’ll slurp it down with a smile on my face.
But to turn oysters on the half shell into a more respectable dish, call out for Oysters Rockefeller.
To make these, take oysters on the half shell, add in a good serving of butter, bread crumbs, and herbs or flavorings, and toss them in the oven on broil.
Named after John D. Rockefeller for its richness, this dish was created in New Orleans and continues to be one of the most popular seafood dishes around.
I consider myself fortunate to have eaten clam chowder in New England. It is one of the most delicious and popular seafood dishes out there, in my opinion.
Made primarily using clams, potatoes, and a thickened broth, clam chowder is a filling soup that also soothes the throat and belly.
Its rich and creamy texture combines well with the clammy flavor and can be made even better with some ground black pepper and crackers.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know that frying foods is one of the best ways to make them go from acceptable to incredible.
And for a fish fry, that’s even more of the case.
Begin by marinating the filets of your favorite white fish with things like salt, pepper, lemon juice, paprika, and Old Bay seasoning.
Then coat the filets in flour and bread crumbs and fry them up in a pan with oil.
Serve with a side of french fries, or perhaps some collard greens, and have some malt vinegar to throw on top.
It’s a cajun take on English fish and chips. In my opinion, both are worthy of your time.
Sometimes I like to keep things simple. A shrimp cocktail is a perfect standby recipe to bring to a potluck or family gathering, and it’s almost always sure to be swept clean in minutes.
At its heart, a shrimp cocktail is boiled shrimp served with ketchup and horseradish sauce. And that’s how it’s served the majority of the time.
But you can also spice things up and add a special something to your recipe.
Grill your shrimp Cajun-style, add more flavors and herbs to the ketchup dip, or get creative in your way.
If you ever get a chance to go to a traditional paella party, I highly recommend taking up the offer.
Hailing from the Valencia region in Spain, this incredible dish brings together a symphony of flavors while also bringing together loved ones.
While it’s one of the most popular seafood dishes, it’s also a way that families come together to celebrate. And let me tell you, the options for paella are limitless.
But it’s primarily saffron or turmeric rice cooked with heaps of meat, including seafood and usually chicken.
One of the most defining characteristics of paella is that it is made in a wide, shallow pan over an open fire. Everything is cooked, in a specific order, in the pan.
It is best served directly off that pan from a person with a giant grin who has been working hard all day and knows how good it tastes.
Somewhere between sushi and fried fish you can find ceviche.
Utilizing the acid from heavy amounts of lime juice, the raw fish, scallops, and other seafood are slightly cooked in a chemical reaction.
Add in solid portions of tomatoes, onion, cilantro, salt, and any other flavorings of your choice, and you have ceviche. Ideally, you want to serve it on saltine crackers or corn tostadas.
Don’t forget to add on some hot sauce for extra flavor. And to get more hair on your chest, if that’s your thing.
I love tacos. They’re just so ridiculously versatile. But one of the best types, especially on the coast of California in the US or the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, is fish tacos.
Fish tacos can be different depending on who you talk with.
But quite often, they are made from fried filets of a white fish, like cod, then topped with cabbage, a hit of a creamy sauce or mayonnaise, and in the best of circumstances, some pickled onion.
The best fish tacos can blow away your taste buds. But if you haven’t found the most pleasing ones yet, you’re not alone. The search never ends.
Tuna tartare is not your everyday tuna sandwich. It uses high-quality tuna with minimal flavorings and is served up raw.
You read that right. It’s basically like a take on sushi but forget the rice.
Quite often, tuna tartare is made from fresh cut cubes of tuna steak, marinated in soy sauce, olive oil, and lime juice mixture.
It’s cubed together into a compact form and served with a side of bread or crackers.
If you like raw tuna, you’ll most likely like tuna tartare. If not, don’t worry. There are plenty of other popular seafood dishes to try out.
I love recipes that are easy and quick to prepare but also pack a major punch.
Shrimp scampi is one of those magic dishes that works as an easy work-night meal or dressed up a bit and served to the guests you want to impress the most.
To make shrimp scampi, start by cooking up linguini pasta. In a separate pan, cook shrimp in a pool of butter loaded with garlic, and add in some parsley, salt, and lemon juice.
Finally, once you cook the pasta and the shrimp, combine them and toss to mix.
And that’s it. You have a flavorful dish that will satisfy almost every craving.
If you want to know what separates Massachusetts from Connecticut, it’s not just a state line.
It’s also the recipe for lobster rolls, one of the most popular seafood dishes in both states. In my opinion, they’re both incredible.
Generally speaking, Connecticut lobster rolls are made with hot, boiled lobster that’s dipped in melted butter and served on a hot-dog-like bun. It’s rich and greasy but mostly focuses on the lobster flavor.
On the other hand, Massachusetts lobster rolls are served with cold lobster that is mixed with a bit of mayonnaise and celery and put on a similar hot-dog-like bun.
It’s a bit similar to a chicken salad type of sandwich, but to be honest, about a million times better, in my opinion.
Scallops can have a bad reputation. If overcooked, they resemble hockey pucks more than food.
But when seared properly, scallops can melt in your mouth in a swarm of flavor.
Seared scallops are one of the most popular seafood dishes because they’re delicious and quite simple.
Usually, pan-fried in butter with garlic and a few other seasonings, they let the scallop’s flavor burst through.
My advice is to order seared scallops when you’re somewhere that has a talented chef behind the counter. It makes a major difference in how this dish comes out.
Surf & Turf
Surely you can’t have your cake and eat it too, right? When it comes to surf and turf, you actually can have the best of both worlds.
Surf and turf is any dish that combines seafood with meat from a land-dwelling animal. Hence the name.
But most often, surf and turf is a specific dish where a delicious lobster pairs with a high-quality steak.
Have a bite of butter-soaked lobster, then a bite of perfectly cooked steak. Repeat until your belly is full, or just keep going well beyond that point in this hearty dish.
Sometimes you want a seafood dish that’s easy to take on the go and works well as a quick lunch anywhere. Poke is the perfect option in that case.
It’s a Hawaiian dish and the term poke means to slice or cut.
A common way people serve poke is in bowls with rice and a variety of fresh or cooked vegetables. That’s how you can take it on the go with ease.
A lot of fish does well when cooked on the grill. The charred flavor is difficult to replicate with any other method.
And grilled salmon is a perfect way to infuse a great-tasting piece of fish with the subtle hints from a grill.
Chefs will sometimes prepare grilled salmon by placing it directly on the grill. But that can be a challenge because of how delicate salmon can be.
That’s why placing it on a cedar board in indirect heat is so popular. It also brings out another layer of flavor from the warmed cedar.
Grilled salmon can be marinated or done with basic ingredients like salt and pepper. My favorite way to prepare grilled salmon is with fresh dill, capers, and lemon juice. It’s the perfect combination of flavor.
If you have a lot of people to host for a major event, then a clam bake could be in your future.
By combining large amounts of lobster, crab, mussels, and clams with some hearty vegetables like carrots, onion, and corn on the cob, you can create a masterpiece.
Traditionally, clam bakes were done on the beaches of New England, wrapped in seaweed, and placed in a sand pit with hot coals underneath.
The steaming process would slow-cook the massive combination of ingredients, and hours later, the dish would be ready for the celebration.
In modern times, it can be a challenge to find beach space and time to do this. Many people have turned to a clam boil instead, which is the same recipe, just boiled together in a large pot for hours on end.
Are you ready to dive into your next favorite seafood dish? Willing to take the risk and order up a serving of tuna tartare? Or do you want to stick to a crowd favorite like a fish fry or lobster roll?
Whatever the case, you now know enough to uncover the world of delicious food hidden below the water’s surface. The most popular seafood dishes are full of variety and can take some time to find out what you enjoy best.
If there’s one thing I’d recommend, it’s going all-in when you’re in the area the dish originated from.
Check out the best dipping sauces to go with your seafood while you’re at it!