Cooking techniques and flavor pairings continue to evolve and create new pathways for dining enthusiasts to enjoy. Be sure to ask about any unfamiliar ingredients or dishes to ensure a safe and enjoyable seafood meal.
Whenever possible, opt for wild-caught local shrimp. They’re usually more flavorful than farmed varieties from Asia, and the fisheries themselves are held to higher conservation standards. Plus, they’re typically harvested by small businesses who care about the community and the environment.
Fortunately, finding fresh, local seafood is relatively easy. It’s simply a matter of knowing where to look. Try dining at Pier 39 restaurants that pride themselves on the best seafood dishes, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the ingredients. The more you know, the better the overall experience will be.
Gulf Shrimp are among the tastiest on the planet. They’re caught in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent coastal areas, harvested from the wild using trawl nets. Many hailed them as the best type of shrimp, and they tend to be more flavorful than farmed options from Asia.
The three main species of Gulf shrimp are pink, brown, and white — each offering distinct flavors and textures. Brown shrimp, for example, have a robust natural flavor thanks to their iodine-rich diet, making them ideal for gumbo and jambalaya. Meanwhile, pink shrimp have a milder sweetness and are perfect for dishes with delicate sauces like New Orleans barbecue shrimp. They’re also the largest of the Gulf species.
Seafood soups are a great way to enjoy the flavors of the sea year-round. These dishes are warm and comforting and provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals that can help keep your body strong. Classic clam chowder, shrimp and grits, and seafood cioppino are just a few examples of delicious seafood soup recipes.
Bouillabaisse, a traditional fish stew from the coastal region of France, originated as a creative way to use small rockfish deemed unfit for market sale. It soon captured the palates of locals and visitors thanks to its hearty combination of shellfish, fish, and aromatic herbs. Today, bouillabaisse is enjoyed worldwide, with regional variations incorporating ingredients that reflect the unique culinary traditions of each area.
A Cacciucco features a variety of shellfish and fish, including cod, mussels, and squid, all cooked together with tomatoes, lemon zest, parsley, garlic, and olive oil. The result is a rich, flavorful broth that can be garnished with parsley-olive gremolata for an extra burst of freshness. This hearty stew is a showstopper for a Sunday dinner, and it’s easy to customize by substituting different types of seafood as needed.
Creole & Cajun Dishes
The Creole and Cajun cooking styles are distinct, each having culinary roots in France and a nod to African, Spanish, and Native American cuisines. The Creoles, or upper-class European settlers of New Orleans, had access to local markets and servants that prepared food, so they used their knowledge of French cooking methods with new Louisiana ingredients like okra, allspice, file powder, shrimp, fish, and other shellfish.
Seafood is a staple in Creole and Cajun dishes, and this shrimp etouffee is a wonderful example. The savory roux is made with coconut oil, and shrimp broth and canned tomatoes are added for flavor. A splash of Sriracha adds a hint of heat.
Jambalaya is another classic Creole and Cajun dish. The difference between Creole and Cajun versions is that Creole recipes tend to be lighter, with less use of spices and a higher emphasis on cream and butter.
Dirty rice is a popular Creole recipe. White rice gets a “dirty” color from chunks of meat and spices, so this side dish is a hearty meal!
Alligator is another popular meat in both Creole and Cajun dishes. It is simmered in a spicy piquant sauce and served over rice, making this recipe perfect for a Mardi Gras feast.
In recent years, some chefs have explored Asian seafood dishes with innovative cooking techniques and bold flavors. This has opened up a wide range of options for diners, from Vietnamese clam soups and Briny sushi platters in upscale restaurants to Korean BBQ places like Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, offering whole fried fish with savory soy sauce marinade.
Many of these Asian cuisines are inspired by the continent’s vast and diverse culture. They can be as simple as a classic New England clam chowder or a hefty lobster roll with Duke’s mayonnaise to as complex as a crab Louie salad or a yuzu & miso married pair of shrimp legs.
One of the most interesting aspects of Asian food is that pickings can often be as tasty as the main course. For example, Sri Lankan achcha are sweet, sour, and spicy pickled vegetables and fruits like wood apple, mango, and ambarella that are usually flavored with turmeric, chili, sugar, and salt.
Seafood enthusiasts will always have ways to enjoy this delicious cuisine. With inventive dishes like zesty Blackened Striped Bass on a bed of quinoa popping up everywhere, seafood fans should always watch for the latest innovations from their favorite restaurants. And if you need help ordering a new dish, feel free to ask your server for recommendations – they’ll be glad to help!