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Fancy Birthday dinner main course (fish or shellfish) needed

Would like to prepare a really nice dinner for 6-8. Preferably not salmon and not shrimp. I've done a whole halibut filet with lemon cream sauce in the past with much success, wrapped fish in banana leaves with vegetables and steamed. I need something different, classy and special. Oh, and outdoor cooking methods are out for this time of year. I just know there are some great ideas out there...please help!

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  1. The last (not newest) version of The Joy of cooking has a great recipie for steamed shrimp scallop cakes. They call them "Dumplings". It's in the appetizer section, but I doit as a main.

    basically you process equal portions of scallops and shrimp (raw), add a sprinkle of corn starch, a little ginger, a touch of sugar or honey. Mold them into little balls, flatten to disks and steam them in steamer on an oiled plate for a few minutes. Serve with a good ponzu or make your own asian dipping sauce.

    Me, I like to play with seasoning. You could add lemon zest..or maybe do them cajun style. or drizzle them with an orange glaze.

    They're good as dipping things, on a green salad, as an appetizer, or course in a multi course menu.

    1. Perhaps fresh tuna? This is one of my favorite recipes in the whole world but I only prepare it for company or special occasion because of the expense, between the cost of fresh tuna and fresh shiitakes, Pan-Seared Tuna with Ginger Shiitake Cream sauce and oh-so-great with basmati rice:


      3 Replies
      1. re: Val

        I second this! This sauce is so good I usually make extra or double it. I usually serve with rice and asparagus. Its so delicious you want to lick your plate.

        1. re: Val

          Val, do you have an asian market near you? All items can easily be found on the cheap Tuna 6.99 Lb Fresh Shitake 2.49 for a big bag. If you don't, sorry I brought it up.


          1. re: stevuchan

            Hey, stevuchan...we do have a wonderful Asian market here but I've never seen fresh mushrooms there, only dried. They do have a variety of other fresh produce, though. Am sure I've never seen tuna there, either. You may be thinking: "Not such a great market, then!" Oh, but it is...we're in WASPY Naples, FL where not too much ethnic anything is to be found (though it's improving, I will say) This market is probably small compared to most others' standards but I try to go there once a week to buy something to help keep them in business and I always encourage others to go also.
            Thank you for the suggestion, though!

        2. one of my favourite dishes with seafood, is a seafood pasta in tomato sauce (but can also be done as a white wine sauce). normally, when we have pasta, we have it as a first course only, however, if we add all sorts of seafood, we'll eat it as a main. the best way to do this is to steam all the seafood separately, and then toss it in a great tomato sauce. Add LONG pasta (spaghetti or linguine)and serve! its classy and unique because you can add as many kinds or as few kinds of seafood as you want. if you are on a tight budget, only get mussels, for example. but if you would like to splurge a bit, use clams, shrimp, squid, crab legs, etc.
          Or as another idea, you can take your fav fish, put in im parchment with spices, lemon, and a few veggies, wrap it up and bake!

          1. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds delicious -- Pasta with lobster, tomatoes, and herbes de maquis from Epicurious http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

            basil, mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic, cream, tomato.. mmmmmmmm.........

            That's the plan for my mom's birthday, with a citrus/red onion salad, asparagus, something else I'm forgetting

            1. How about a risotto with scallops? I've made this recipe before and loved it.


              1. Yeah, scallop risotto sounds good.

                Seafood Paella with scallops, clams, mussels, calamari, lobster, crab, cooked with saffron & wine is delicious and extravagant...perfect for a fancy birthday for 6-8 guests.

                Seafood soup/bouilliabe (sp?) is great as well.

                1 Reply
                1. re: amoncada

                  Hmmm....seafood paella sounds very nice. Especially since I have lobster stock in the freezer. So far that and the Pasta with lobster and tomatoes as noted by Juster are in the lead!

                2. I would definitely do a saffron shellfish risotto. I think the Dean and Deluca cookbook has a good recipe I've made before. A pretty fish we can get in our area is North Carolina mountain trout-- they are about the color of arctic char and very tasty.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Procrastibaker

                    I have not tried making trout. Assuming I can get it in our area at this time of year, what is your fave way of preparing it? I am always happy to make guinea pigs of my guests!

                    1. re: gourmanda

                      if you are able to get it, and it is boned out, you can cook it in a skillet with a little bit of oil/butter (don't use too much as the trout will contribute a fair amount of its own). Season the trout with salt/pepper (any other seasonings you may like) place flesh side down opened out (butterflied). After a couple of minutes turn over onto skin side to finish off. Try and get the skin as crispy as possible - it is excellent!

                      Or, "stuff" it with crabmeat and herbs, lightly coat with olive oil (or your oil of choice), season, and bake in the oven (400 F) for about 15 minutes.

                      Or, if you want to go completely simple, replace crab above with a slice or two of lemon and some rosemary... bake as above.

                  2. Dungeness Crab just came into season about two weeks ago. The risotto or paella with fresh crab would be amazing.

                    1. One of my favorite fish dishes was given to me by my friend and fellow chowhounder--Procrastibaker. Saffron and tomato haddock. As she described it, "it's quick and kinda fancy". I agree with both those things and I would also add tasty! Very good over cous cous. I don't have it off hand, it's home with my cookbooks. Perhaps if we ask nicely, she'll post it???

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: upstate girl

                        Hmm....that does sound rather nice. How about it Procrastibaker? Pretty please???? I promise not to tell anyone ;-)

                        1. re: upstate girl

                          I forgot about that one,UG! It is so yummy-- haven't made it in a while. Here you go gourmanda:
                          Baked Haddock with Wine, Saffron and Tomatoes
                          4 6 oz haddock fillets (could sub any firm, mild white fish)
                          1 1/4 c. white wine
                          a large pinch of saffron threads
                          4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced (I have subbed whole canned)
                          4 T olive oil
                          2 T butter
                          s and p to taste

                          Heat oven to 350
                          Bring wine and saffron just to a boil in a wide shallow pan. Add the fish and cover. Bake in the oven until just cooked (12-15 min.) Remove fish to a dish and keep warm in the turned-off oven (crack door to prevent over-cooking). Add the tomatoes to the cooking liquid and boil over high heat until is reduced by 3/4. Remove from heat and whisk in the oil and butter (pretty sure I've forgotten the oil before and it's been great). Season to taste.

                          Serve over Parsley Mash:
                          2 lb potatoes
                          2 T butter
                          1 T creme fraiche or sour cream or yogurt
                          handful of parsley very finely chopped (seems like a lot, but it tastes good!)
                          salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg

                          Hope you like it! And thanks for the props, UG.

                          1. re: Procrastibaker

                            Thank you, thank you! This does sound delicious--might not wait until the birthday to make this one...yum!

                        2. Something that looks dramatic always seems fancy.
                          A whole fish - stuffed perhaps, garnished with other seafood.
                          Smaller fish, one for each guest, again stuffed. Something like a trout or flounder.
                          Filets or other seafood, prepared en papillote (cooked in parchment paper packets), easy but impressive.
                          I do these for dinner parties a lot because they can be prepped well ahead of time, the kitchen cleaned up, and only require putting into and taking out of the oven. I don't have to be in the kitchen stirring anything, finishing dishes when I'd rather be with my guests.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MakingSense

                            Oh thank you! Those are great ideas. Perhaps filets encased in puff pastry? Or, you have now given me the idea of a whole fish baked in a salt crust. Perhaps a whole stuffed and baked red snapper. Keep these ideas coming, please! Terrific!

                          2. I have done a wonderful seafood lasagne that includes a bit of pernot for a different flavor. It included:
                            Spinach - a white sauce

                            It was completely wiped out. none left.
                            So I was told it was wonderful...

                            1. slow roast a big, white fleshed fish at low heat(wrapped in foil) for many hours until the bones melt-I ate this once-I believe it is a malaysian receipe

                              1. something that is so simple that to see it plated it is almost to pretty to eat.
                                Seared scallops on a pea puree with a very crispy garnish... Fried leeks or homemade sweet potato chips...a drizzle of something...
                                Pappilote (sp?) is super easy and looks great, when you slice open the bag to reveal the steamy insides...olives and tomatoes with herbs and olive oil, whatever fish or seafood you like would work too.
                                Simple things are often the most impressive because it is the ingredients themselves that are beautiful

                                1. I found this one on Epicurious a while back, it is my husband's favorite way to prepare swordfish and I like it too. Swordfish with balsamic brown butter sauce. Also good with tuna!


                                  1. We prepare Pompano en papillote from the Antoine's restaurant cookbook. Your lobster stock would make a wonderful sauce. Opening those envelopes with aromas rising into each diner's face may induce drooling... Might have to make this for our NYE Revillion dinner!