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3 Seafood Platters: Tinned Fish, Cold Platter, or Seafood Tower

3 Seafood Platters: Tinned Fish, Cold Platter, or Seafood Tower
Home » Recipes by Ingredients » Fish and Seafood » 3 Seafood Platters: Tinned Fish, Cold Platter, or Seafood Tower

Those of us who like to host during the holidays will know the struggle between wanting to serve something fancy and keeping things stress free. Here are 3 DIY seafood platters that range from an easy, inexpensive tinned seafood plate to a cold platter with shellfish to a luxury platter or tower for the seasoned cook. Two dynamite seafood dip recipes included!

Seafood platter with shrimp, cucumber, salmon, crawfish, crab legs, cocktail sauce, mignonette sauce, crackers, wine and baby pickles.
Cold Seafood Platter for 6 (recipe below)

Jump to: RECIPE | Tips for Assembling | Cold Seafood Platter | Luxury Platter | Tinned Seafood Platter | Dips & Accompaniment Ideas

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A seafood platter can be the perfect holiday appetizer, or even a main course if you upscale it to XL size! It feels luxurious, especially with the right presentation, but you can make it as simple or extravagant as you want.

Prep for a seafood platter is limited and many of its components can be made ahead or even bought. This way, all you have to do is assemble it in a visually pleasing way.

No more worrying about whether things are done on time: just sit down with your friends and family and enjoy.

Tips for Assembly of Food Platters & Boards

Seafood platter featuring shellfish.
Seafood platter featuring shellfish.
  1. Think of a theme before you start. It’ll help guide you in terms of both components and presentation. Do you want a Spanish tapas board, a breakfast board, a classic cheese & charcuterie platter or maybe even a dessert board?
    • In this case, we’re going for a seafood platter, and since it’s the holidays, we do want to make it look a little extra fancy.
  2. Determine the superstar (or focal point). Whether it be a perfect crab leg or oysters on the half shell, you want the most eye-catching item where it stands out. If you are building a seafood tower, this would be on the top layer.
    • Complement the focal point by surrounding it with items of different colors and textures.
  3. Pairings (dips & spreads). Cheeses want jams (check out this cheese & jam pairing guide), veggies want hummus and seafood wants something fresh and bright.
    • You can make sauces and dips at home, but you can also go for store-bought to take time.
  4. Fresh accent pieces. Just like a cheese board doesn’t only have cheese, a seafood platter will need fresh accent pieces to complement it.
    • Herbs, lemons, or fresh and colorful vegetables bring the plate alive.
  5. Assembly. I find it easiest to start with anything that goes in bowls (shallow bowls). Then, I arrange my main ingredients in central spots and use accompanying ingredients like veggies, fruit and garnish to fill the gaps.
    • Place all the items close to each other for that feel of abundance.

Tip: To keep things manageable but still wow your guests, pick most of your options from the “serve & go” section of the market, but also include 1-2 components with some prep time. Then, add one superstar from the “going all out” section and make a simple dip or salad or two on the side.

Cold Seafood Platter

The recipe for a cold seafood platter that serves 6 is in the recipe card below. It includes 2 seafood dips also.

Ingredients for cold seafood platter that requires minimal prep time, plus 2 dips.
Ingredients: variety of seafood, lemons, cucumbers, pickles, fresh dill, mayo, dijon, apple, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce

You can put together a pretty luxurious platter or seafood tower with a little work ahead of time that gives the wow factor but allows you to enjoy your company without stress. Here are the optional ideas:

  • Simple steamed mussels or cockles
  • Steamed lobster tails
  • Steamed crab legs
  • Boiled sea snails (whelks, periwinkles)
  • Simple homemade (shell)fish salads
  • Pan-seared scallops (serve in the shell)
  • Simple poached salmon
  • Wakame (seaweed) salad
  • Tuna-stuffed olives
  • Salmon and cream cheese roll-ups
  • Smoked fish dip
  • Fish roe dip

Drink Recommendations:

Dry white wine is a classic with cold seafood. I personally love a good Pinot Grigio which is a bit sweeter than some of the whites.

Luxury Seafood Platters/Seafood Towers

Luxury seafood circular platter with shellfish, dips, lemon wedges and herbs.
Luxury Seafood Platter

When the world is your oyster (so to speak) you can get quite luxurious with your holiday seafood platters or towers. Here are some no-cook options along with a few more that might take some cooking chops:

Some of the easier no-cook options that are crowd pleasers include

  • Pre-sliced smoked salmon
  • Pickled herring*
  • Pre-cooked (garlic) shrimp
  • Pre-cooked crab legs
  • Raw oysters
  • Canned sardines or anchovies
  • Store-bought (shell)fish salads
  • Store-bought sashimi (salmon, tuna)
  • Store-bought roe (fish eggs)

More luxurious seafood options that might require additional cooking skills include:

  • Grilled whole lobster
  • Spanish-style fish fry (battered and fried squid rings, shrimp, white fish, whole anchovies)
  • Homemade garlic butter shrimp
  • Crab cakes or fritters
  • Charred octopus
  • Tuna tataki (seared tuna with ginger and citrus soy sauce)
  • Whole grilled sea bass
  • Salmon caviar
Example of a seafood tower with mussels, oysters, and salmon
Example of a seafood tower with mussels, oysters, shrimp and salmon

Drink Recommendations:

Well, a luxury seafood platter typically calls for a Champagne or a dry sparkling white wine. Some seafood lovers often prefer cold beer. Just go for a microbrew if you want to stay with the luxury theme.

Easy Tinned Seafood Platter

Tinned seafood platter with open tins of fish, lemons dips and crackers.
Tinned Seafood Appetizer Plate

Tinned seafood is very popular right now and there is nothing easier than opening tins of fish and surrounding them with crackers, cheese and store-bought dips. Add some pre-cooked shellfish and you have a platter that will please all of your guests.

Here are the ingredients I used for the platter above, followed by some additional options or substitutions

Ingredients for making tinned seafood appetizer plate: tinned fish, tomatoes, crackers and cornichon pickles.
Ingredients for Tinned Seafood Appetizer Plate

Drink Recommendations

There are 3 beverages that are perfect with a tinned seafood platter: a dry rose wine, a hard cider or some dry sherry. For non-alcoholic drinks a sparkling water enhanced with a homemade shrub syrup or simple syrup is delicious and festive.

Cooked Seafood vs Raw

Going for cooked vs raw seafood can be a bit of a difficult one. Both have their advantages and downsides. After all, cooked seafood involves more prep time, but the handy thing is that you can make most options the day before.

Raw seafood is ready to be served, but can be risky in terms of storage. You have to make sure you buy fresh, and your best option would be to buy it on the day itself, which can make things more stressful during the holidays. All in all, I personally tend to go for a mix.

One little hack to make things as easy as possible is using an online seafood delivery service. Companies like Sizzlefish let you put together a box of everything you can think of (fish, shrimp, scallops, crab, lobster…) and they’ll ship it to you frozen. Easy-peasy.

Accompaniments for Seafood Platters

Holiday seafood boards (platters) don’t contain just seafood. For added color and to complement the flavors, add some pickles, vegetables, different dips and bread or crackers.

Choose options that are tangy, fresh and garlicky, as that’s what tends to go well with the platter’s stars.

Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Veggies & pickles

Dips

  • Guacamole
  • Greek tzatziki
  • Cream cheese
  • Yogurt caper dip
  • Red tomato salsa
  • Mignonette (vinegar, pepper and shallot dip)
  • Homemade cocktail sauce**

**Check out the recipe card below for an easy homemade dipping sauce recipe that will make you never want to go for store-bought again!

Bread & crackers

  • Sliced baguette
  • Garlic bread
  • Sourdough bread
  • Cheese crackers
  • Cream crackers
  • Thin breadsticks
  • Easy cheese straws

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Holiday Seafood Platter with Dips

Seafood platter featuring shellfish.
A seafood platter for 6 for the holidays, including a classic cocktail sauce and a tangy cucumber apple mignonette.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 153

Equipment

Ingredients

For the platter

  • 1 – 2 crab leg clusters steamed ahead or precooked
  • 6 – 10 jumbo shrimp precooked and shelled
  • 6 crawfish precooked, shell on
  • 1 pound live clams steamed ahead
  • 4 ounces smoked Norwegian salmon slices or similar smoked salmon
  • 1 tin fish roe
  • 1 pound mussels steamed, can be frozen
  • 6 lemon wedges
  • 1 cup mini pickles (cornichons)
  • ½ cucumber sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh dill or parsley for garnish

For the pink cocktail sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp mustard optional, but goes well with seafood
  • 1 tsp whiskey, cognac or brandy
  • 1 crack black pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce to taste
  • lemon juice to taste

For the mignonette

  • ¾ cup champagne or cava vinegar
  • 2 tbsp shallot minced
  • 1 quarter apple minced
  • ½ cucumber minced
  • 2 tablespoon chives finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper ground
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

For the platter

  • Assemble your platter in your preferred manner. I like to place some items in small bowls, and others directly on the board or plate. Garnish with dill/parsley, lemon wedges and pickled onion. Be sure to provide a "waste" plate for the seafood shells and used lemon wedges.
    1 – 2 crab leg clusters, 6 – 10 jumbo shrimp, 6 crawfish, 1 pound live clams, 4 ounces smoked Norwegian salmon slices, 1 tin fish roe, 1 pound mussels, 6 lemon wedges, 1 cup mini pickles, 1/2 cucumber, 1 bunch fresh dill or parsley

For the cocktail sauce

  • Mix the mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and whiskey/cognac/brandy and pepper together. Season to taste with Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice.
    1 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 tsp mustard, 1 tsp whiskey, cognac or brandy, 1 crack black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice

For the mignonette

  • Combine all the ingredients in a small, decorative bowl and whisk. Refrigerate before serving and use for the oysters. Keeps for up to 3 days in the fridge.
    3/4 cup champagne or cava vinegar, 2 tbsp shallot, 1 quarter apple, 1/2 cucumber, 2 tablespoon chives, 1 teaspoon white pepper, salt

Additions

  • Crackers or breads of your choice

Notes

** The nutrition analysis is for the seafood only and does not include the dips or crackers or cheeses.
** Tinned seafood platters are currently quite popular. For a range of options for an easy tinned seafood platter, see the ideas listed in the post above.
 
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Nutrition

Calories: 153kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 25gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.002gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 722mgPotassium: 556mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 272IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 83mgIron: 3mg
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