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Help me plan a seafood feast for 8 next weekend?

We'll have 3 other couples joining us for dinner next Saturday night. I've already promised one of the guys we'll have stone crab. Since I'll be trekking to the fish market Saturday morning and the farmers market is next door, I'm thinking maybe we'll just do a seafood feast with some sides. (All these people are seafood lovers, so I don't have to do anything special for allergies or dislikes, etc.)

This will be a very casual gathering. I may just do family-style and put out big bowls of cracked stone crab, steamed-in-the-shell shrimp, steamed oysters and some fried blue-crab "cocktail" claws, with remoulade, cocktail and tartar sauces, along with melted butter for dipping.

I don't know what to do for sides. Obviously, I'll need some bread or hushpuppies (not sure I want to fry crab claws and hush puppies). What else? Cole slaw? I mineownself would be happy with a big pile of steamed oysters and some crackers, but I'd like to offer my guests a little more variety. :-)

I'm a little worried about timing... steaming oysters and frying crab claws, to get it all on the table hot. Should I do it in "waves", or just better to dump it all out there and let everybody dig in?

Publix makes a good key-lime pie and I may just get those for dessert. (I won't have a lot of time for cooking on this one.)

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  1. For sides I would make a big tossed salad from the farmers market produce, and a couple loaves of garlic-parmesan toast, and devote your time and energy to showcasing all those wondeful shellfish dishes. Be sure to have chilled mustard sauce for the stone crabs. At Publix, keep an eye out for their mango key lime pie and maybe get one of each. You are describing my favorite Florida meal!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      Salad and garlic cheese bread were my thoughts too. What time shall we come....we promise not to be late!

      1. re: Veggo

        Seconded-you want something green and low maintenance. Salad is perfect. You could to a caesar-type dressing with anchovies and.or a balsamic vinaigrette-both easy and compatible with seafood.

      2. How about corn on the cob? You can steam that too.

        1. I've never heard of steaming oysters, only raw (my fave), fried, as part of stew... or baked. I guess we steam everything else in a shell...

          I cook up a big mess of seafood outside in warm weather, cover the tables with layers of newspaper, lay out shell crackers, pics and waste bows, along with cups of broth... corn in season is present, maybe home made slaw. I'd make it all at once, and let everyone dig in to a pile... it's fun, folks love it and you just roll up the paper in a plastic liner cloth and toss the whole mess out later. I'd keep it all really simple, might do some toasted baguette slices for the broth if you serve it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mcf

            I really hate shucking oysters. So, we steam them just enough to get the shells started opening. So, they are almost like raw, but with much less work. :-) I don't think I can get good corn right now. :-(

            1. re: onrushpam

              How about some fries dusted with Old Bay seasoning?

              1. re: onrushpam

                I totally agree that corn is not in season and should be avoided completely this time of year.. Shucking oysters is miserable work, smart!

                1. re: onrushpam

                  Don't know how your weather is right now but we like to throw oysters on the bbq just until they open for the same reason you steam them. They are still mainly raw but the bbq gives them a little smokiness and it would be relatively easy to do in batches while you're eating.

                  1. re: Sushiqueen36

                    Good idea! And, the grill is right outside the dining room door!

              2. Since it will be a "casual" gathering, serve some garlic bread, jalapeno cornbread, potato salad, and corn on the cob. Maybe include some bacon somewhere in there too ! : )

                1. Head to Sonny's and get a couple of quarts of their sides. Relax and enjoy your guests. Timing the seafood is stressful enough. Can't mention how many times, all I can remember about a party is getting thanked for the good food. And not mixing with my guests.

                  1. Okay, I'm agreeing that simple is best... So, a big green salad and garlic bread will do it.

                    Question for those who do oysters on the grill... Do you put something under them or put them straight onto the grill? I hate to lose the juicy goodness in there and fear we'll drain them getting them off the grill and/or some might even fall through the grates (though I'm thinking these will probably be quite large).

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: onrushpam

                      Ditto on the green salad. I also really like crispy potatoes on the side. their more appealing to me than cheese bread with seafood, for some reason. A simple fresh vinegar based slaw provides that tangy complimentary taste that I crave with a meal like that

                      1. re: onrushpam

                        I lightly grill clams and oysters right on the grill, and keeping them level and not spilling or boiling off the liquid requires diligent attention, a spatula, and tongs.

                        1. re: onrushpam

                          We leave them on just until the shells pop slightly - we might lose a little liquid but not much. You do want to watch them though!