This holiday season, get ready to explore the festivity of familiar fall flavors through a fully pescatarian holiday dinner that’s built around the bounty of wild-caught Alaskan seafood. Serving wild-caught seafood for the holidays is a bold way to start new traditions with your friends and family.
While you may be reluctant to change things up for such an iconic meal, hear us out: You can still explore the savory, sweet, and spiced flavor profiles that you love through a variety of wild-caught seafood options. From starters to main dishes, we’ve got 5 recipes lined up for you that make a solid case for a pescetarian holiday feast.
Appetizer: Smoked Salmon Crostini with Fried Shallots and Dill Cream
Nix the store-bought fried onions and make your own topping with shallots (trust us, they’re even better than onions!) to use on these smoked salmon crostini from Bon Appetit, the perfect appetizer to set the tone for the meal. Petals of smoked sockeye, draped over crusty bread, is darn pretty and tastes great too. Plus, the intensely salty-smoky flavor of this fish will get you sipping on your festive libations to wash things down.
For a bit of balance to this appetizer, there’s a super simple dill cream dolloped on top of the crostini, which doubles as a sort of glue to keep the crispy shallots in place once you’re ready to serve these up. P.S., both the shallots and dill cream can be made ahead of time to help you manage your dinner timing.
First Course: Sicilian Fish Soup
One of your first courses should definitely be a little bowl of this Sicilian fish soup from Jamie Oliver. It’s subtly infused with fall flavors and highlights the bounty of Alaskan seafood, embodying exactly what you meant when you told everyone We’re having fish for the holidays this year, in case that was unclear to your holiday guests. It’s rich in flavor without being heavy. It’s warm to get everyone in a cozy holiday mood. And happens to be a super low maintenance dish to prepare.
Made with a mix of halibut, salmon, and prawns (obviously, use your amazing spot prawns here), the soup base is also a trinity of flavors — a combo of canned tomatoes, fish stock, and butternut squash. Feel free to make a prawn stock to use for this soup, since you’ll be shelling them for this recipe anyway. And save the spot prawn roe, if you’re lucky enough to have any, as a raw garnish!
If you want to make this soup ahead of time, simply complete the first two steps, slide it to the backburner with a lid on and the heat off (or stash it in the fridge, if you want to make it the day before). Then, bring it back to a boil about 30 minutes before you want to serve it, prepping your seafood while things are heating up. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add your seafood, and allow them to gently cook through over the next 6 to 8 minutes until they’re succulent and ready to eat.
Side Dish: Deviled Crab Stuffing
So what if Thanksgiving already happened? Carb it up with this deviled crab stuffing recipe from the Food Network. Assembled with the usually stuffing components — stale bread, aromatics, good broth (feel free to use a veggie or mushroom stock to keep this course strictly pescetarian), herbs, and lots of butter — this crab version includes a dash of paprika to “devil” it, complementing the sweet and savory flavor of fresh crab meat.
You can use either Dungeness or snow crab meat to use in the stuffing; the former tends to yield more meat per crab leg and is a bit easier to snap into, so it may make your crab picking task a bit easier to manage.
By the way, the hardest part about picking your own crab meat is definitely the part where you try not to eat it along the way, so enlist some trusted sous chefs who won’t sneak too many morsels of the crabmeat as they help you collect it for the stuffing. Aim to get about 2 or 3 cups of meat to integrate into the stuffing so that it’s deliciously crabby.
Main Dish #1: Sweet Potato Fish Pie
Easy holiday dishes are nice to make, but to feel truly satisfied as a cook, don’t you want to make something elaborate too? Something that you’d only make once a year? This Irish fish pie from Mary-Frances Heck is the once-a-year recipe you’re looking for.
There are several moving parts to this recipe, which all come together in a memorably decadent, creamy seafood pie topped with sweet potato puree. There’s the sweet potatoes that you’ll first have to boil into a mash. Then there’s the combo of three types of seafood, which all need to be poached separately in milk since they’ll cook through at different times. Don’t forget about the bechamel that you’ll need to make after that to pour over your casserole of seafood. And finally, you’ll need to pipe or carefully spread the sweet potato puree on top of everything to seal the deal.
You can use just one or two types of fish here if you like, but the full-on recipe calls for a trio of scallops, cod, and prawns for a heavenly mix of textures and flavors. If you have pollock quick cuts available, feel free to use that instead of cod, since it’s ready to poach straight out of the package.
By the way, this pie is cooked at the same temperature as the stuffing, so you can have both of these in the oven while you prepare your final Thanksgiving course.
Main Dish #2: Cedar Plank Maple-Mustard Salmon
Put on your mittens and fire up your grill. Seriously! It’s the holidays, and everything else cooking in the kitchen is effortlessly doing its thing right now — simmering, baking, chilling — so you’ve got the opportunity to bring some easy drama with this final main dish of maple-mustard glazed salmon from Food & Wine.
Grilled on a pre-soaked cedar plank, your salmon fillets will pick up complex, savory aromas while steaming in just enough moisture to stay extra juicy and tender. Plus, you won’t have to fuss with flipping anything or transferring the fish to a plate; serve it straight off the plank as an epic holiday table centerpiece.
To adapt this recipe for individual portions, try to use cuts that are about the same thickness so that they’ll finish cooking at the same time. Otherwise you’ll want to be ready to pull the thinner pieces from the grill early.
Also, you’ll need to reduce the cooking time by a few minutes, since full sides of salmon take a bit longer to cook through. Start checking on the doneness of the fillets at around the 12 minute mark, or even a bit sooner if you are using tail pieces rather than center cut portions; either way, the salmon will likely be done in under 15 minutes. If you’re using an instant read thermometer to assess doneness, aim for an internal temperature of somewhere between 120 and 125 degrees.