While the days are still long and the weather is still warm, gather your crew together for an unforgettable seafood picnic at your favorite outdoor spot, whether it’s a park, a patio, or a backyard.
The best picnic spreads are easy to put together and don’t require you to do anything more than enjoy yourself. A good picnic is also laden with a modest variety of noshable snacks, as well as some goodies that are substantial enough to be enjoyed as a light meal. With these picnic goals in mind, building your picnic around light, healthy, tasty wild-caught seafood makes total sense.
Here’s how to pack the perfect seafood picnic.
The most essential ingredient of a perfect seafood picnic is the least flavorful: Lots and lots of ice.
Any time your picnic basket contains non-plant, perishable products, you will need to pack plenty of ice to keep things cool until you’re ready to enjoy them. But this step is especially important when you’re picnicking with any foods that might not be 100% cooked through since you want to minimize your chances of getting sick from consuming, let’s say, salmon that’s been cooked medium-rare — which, from a strict food safety standpoint, is technically underdone.
Store all of your seafood products in an insulated cooler that you know will be able to keep its contents cold from the time you leave your kitchen to the time you return (so that any leftovers can go straight back into the fridge). Whether you use loose ice cubes or ice packs is up to you, but try to distribute them throughout your cooler so that they’re more or less in contact with each item of seafood.
Since each picnic goodie that you pull from the cooler is going to be cold, think about what you like eating at room temperature or even a bit chilled.
Dips and Schmears
There are plenty of fish-based dips and schmears that aren’t meant to be eaten hot, making these an ideal picnic item to enjoy with crackers, a crusty baguette, or even a bag of tortilla chips. A container of seafood dip is also one of the most packable items you’ll be able to bring to a picnic, making for easy stacking in your cooler and easy cleanup when you’re headed back home.
If you’re lucky enough to have gotten your claws on our snap-and-eat Dungeness crab legs this season, pack them for a truly stellar picnic. They’re sweet, succulent, and delicious chilled. The meat is hearty enough that you can pull out big chunks of it without any special tools — all you need is a cold dip or two for dunking. [LINK TO Dipping Delights: 13 Sauces to Enjoy With Your Dungeness Crab Legs]
To keep your picnic experience streamlined, choose seafood dishes that you can enjoy without having to fuss with forks, knives, and spoons. Having hand-held options makes noshing easy, since no one likes guessing which fork on the picnic blanket is theirs after a few glasses of vino.
A no-cutlery picnic is totally doable, even if you want to avoid sharing food items with your friends. Just make sure your items are individually wrapped, portioned out, or can easily be enjoyed by observing the “if you touch it, it’s yours” and “no double-dipping” rules.
Consider including wraps or rolls in your seafood picnic. Seafood summer rolls are a great option, since they won’t get soggy in transit. Maki rolls and onigiri also travel really well and are a cinch to pack up. Or, for a hearty picnic treat, mix up a curried salmon salad to roll into a flour tortilla. You can wrap them into parchment to secure them while they’re in the cooler, then cut them in half to divvy up amongst your picnic-mates. Or, how about some rolls, wraps or onigiri?
Do you love a good charcuterie board? If you’re feeling fancy, you might want to bring your best platter and a pack of smoked salmon or homemade gravlax with you to the picnic; after all, you already probably have some charcuterie components there with you. You can arrange any dips, schmears, and crackers on the charcuterie board alongside an expertly styled pile of smoked or cured salmon. Make sure to bring something nutty, pickled, or sweet too to do your seafood charcuterie right.
But first, check out our blog post on how to build an amazing charcuterie starring wild Alaskan seafood.
Don’t Forget the Beverages
No one is going to be disappointed when you bust open a bottle of rosé for the picnic, but don’t feel limited to enjoying your seafood spread with this summery choice. We’ve got you covered with some beverage pairing ideas that will inspire you to think outside of the box.