A Season for Shellfish: Spectacular NYE Appetizer Ideas
There is just something about the holidays that gets me all snacky. I ache for appetizers and yearn for finger foods. Luckily for me, there’s oodles of appetizing opportunities this time of year with holiday parties, family get-togethers, and friendly gatherings. Tis’ the season for serious eating, as they say.
Shellfish is one of the few foods that just lends itself spectacularly well to appetizers. They’re perfectly sized for finger foods and maintain massive appeal amongst guests and party-goers. To show off their awesome appetizer power, we’ve created several snackable ideas featuring our entire category of shellfish.
Our shucked Virginia oysters are some of the best in the world. Plump, briny, and ready for your party.
Mini Fried Oyster Po’Boys
We have a handy how-to article on frying shucked oysters, a method that will work very well when making mini oyster po’boys. Po’boys are an iconic New Orleans sandwich. This mini version uses dinner rolls, instead of large French sandwich rolls, filled with fried oysters, shredded lettuce, tomato slices, and spicy remoulade.
Oysters Casino Cups
Break out the bubbly when serving this classic appetizer. Instead of the bacon, bell pepper, and green onion filled oysters on a half shell, place baked, fried, or sautéed oysters in individual, mini, serving bowls and top with the traditional fixins.
Oyster and Onion Dip
This easy-peasy dip simply combines roasted onions with either baked, broiled or sautéed oysters, mayonnaise, cream cheese, lemon juice, and a little Old Bay seasoning. Serve with your favorite kettle cooked chips for the ultimate party dip.
Sea scallops are a relatively neutral tasting shellfish, which make them ideal for both simple and extravagantly seasoned appetizers. Their flavor borders between sweet and salty with a fantastic, melt in your mouth texture.
Broiled Scallop Skewers
With a bit of butter, garlic, and lemon juice you are well on your way to a simple, yet tasty appetizer. Thread 1-2 scallops onto bamboo or metal skewers and place in a casserole dish. Drizzle a hefty bit of melted butter, minced garlic, and lemon juice over the scallops and broil until just tender. Give them just a minute or so to cool off before serving.
Scallop BLT Toasts
Those same broiled scallops from above make for a fantastic addition to bacon-themed bruschetta. Top olive oil toasted crostini with sliced broiled scallops, diced tomatoes, bacon, basil, and parmesan. Drizzle the bruschetta with a little of that reserved garlic butter (from broiling) and a touch of balsamic before serving-yum!
Scallop Escabeche Shooters
Escabeche is sorta similar to ceviche, with just a little more creative culinary freedom. Diced raw scallops can be “cooked” in a sweet-sour vinegar marinade (this marinating period cures the seafood, not technically ‘cooking’ but the seafood becomes firm and opaque, even after just 10-15 minutes of marinating) and served with ginger and garlic pickled carrots, onions, and peppers. Fill shot glasses with the marinaded scallops and pickles and serve chilled-deeeelicious.
Calamari is a fantastic option for your holiday appetizers. Like with our oysters, we have an easy to follow cooking guide that will have you creating these appetizer ideas like a pro.
Tempura uses a thinner batter to coat, creating a super crisp exterior and tender interior -a must have with easily overcooked calamari. Serve your tempura calamari with the traditional marinara sauce. Or, commit fully to the tempura theme and serve your fried calamari with a tangy soy sauce-based dipping sauce.
Sicilian Calamari Toasts
Get a little spicy with your calamari appetizers by topping focaccia or ciabatta toast points with sautéed or grilled calamari, diced ripe tomatoes, spicy cherry peppers, pine nuts, and aged provolone.
Rhode Island Calamari Bites
Rhode Island has their own spicy version of fried calamari. In this appetizer version, instead of a large bowl of pipping hot calamari, skewer a few pieces of fried calamari onto toothpicks with pepperoncini peppers and linguicia or chorizo sausage.
These cool water mussels are ideal for small bites. Whether stuffed or sauced, mussels are definitely a crowd pleaser.
Pepperoni & Parmesan Stuffed Mussels
Baked stuffed mussels will certainly add some wow-factor to your soiree. Combine bread crumbs, minced pepperoni, parmesan, herbs, and garlic in a food processor. Steam your mussels and remove the top shell. Place prepped mussels on a baking sheet, and generously fill each with the stuffing. Bake until golden brown and serve toasty hot with a little fresh lemon for a citrus squeeze.
Coconut-Lime Salsa Mussels
Bring the taste of the topics to your next party with coconut and lime salsa stuffed mussels. Combine a little fresh coconut milk, grated coconut, and lime juice with your favorite tropical fruits and veggies (we love pineapple, mango with a little jalapeño and cilantro). Steam and chill your mussels, removing the top shell, and top with the salsa right before serving.
Hot Beer Cheese & Mussels
Yes! The classic combination of beer and mussels brought together in one cheesy appetizer. Simply make your favorite hot beer dip, or beer simmered fondue, and drizzle the hot dip over split and steamed mussels. Keep these tasty nibbles warm while serving and garnish with a little fresh chopped chive or parsley.
Cameron’s top neck clams make some mouthwatering delicious appetizers. Clams are super versatile, allowing you to create everything from casual dips to elegant, sauce drizzled steamers.
Creamy Clam Dip for Crudites
Like our oyster and onion dip, a simple clam dip is made by combining steamed, chopped clams with mayonnaise, cream cheese, green onions, lemon juice, a little Worcestershire sauce, and a dash of hot sauce. Serve your dip with raw fresh veggies.
Steamed Clams with Sparkling Butter Sauce
This appetizer idea is one your break out for those ‘special occasion’ holiday parties. This sparkling butter sauce, aka. a beurre blanc, is made by simmering wine (in this case, sparkling wine) with a little minced shallot before slowly whisking in cold hunks of salted butter. The resulting sauce is velvety smooth and elegant.
Fried Clams with New England Aioli
Fried clams are a staple in New England during the Summer months. Bring a little taste of that warmer season to your next get together. Serve your fried clams with a New England themed aioli, a combination of mayonnaise, garlic, minced pickles, and a dash of malt vinegar.
Crawfish are such a fun appetizer option, with or without the shell. If you’re not in the mood for a winter crawfish boil, we recommend these (less messy) appetizers.
Hot Crawfish Dip
This appetizer idea takes its queues from the popular crab dip. Combine picked and chopped crawfish with mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and cheddar cheese. Instead of seasoning with Old Bay, use Creole or Cajun seasoning instead.
Étouffée is a Cajun and Creole-style seafood stew that is typically served over rice. Arancini is an Italian appetizer made by wrapping a savory filling in risotto, coating in bread crumbs, and deep frying… Why not combine these two into one deliciously inspired appetizer, using Etouffée seasoned crawfish as the filling…nom nom nom.
Similar theme to the arancini, why not use the same ingredients in a crawfish gumbo (crawfish, andouille sausage, peppers, onion, tomatoes, and spices) and make it handheld. Add a thin layer of the gumbo ingredients to a flour tortilla, sprinkle with monterey jack cheese, and crisp on the griddle. Serve with a little sour cream and lime for dipping and squeezing!
Celebrate the Season with Cameron’s Seafood
Are you ready to awe and amaze your party-going friends and family this holiday season? Or, did reading this article just make you hungry for some tasty seafood snacks? (Lol) Either way, you gotta stock up! All of the seafood listed above is available at Cameron’s Seafood Online. Shop our shellfish options and, while you’re there, check out our other seafood categories.
About the author
Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron’s Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.