Stunning Seafood Starters to Serve at Your Next Party

Looking for the perfect appetizer to serve at your next party? Seafood starters will certainly steal the spotlight and add an elegant element to any get-together. Your guests will delight in simple finger foods, such as crab cakes, enjoy dipping their shrimp in not one but three sauces, and love topping their crackers with smoked salmon sushi.

It’s important to purchase high-quality seafood for these recipes. Seafood Health Facts notes that you should buy seafood from reputable dealers — those who have a reputation for following safe-handling practices — and avoid roadside stands. In addition, seafood is highly perishable, meaning you should purchase it as last minute as you can. Make sure the raw juices from your seafood don’t drop on other foods (bacteria in the raw juices can cause foods to spoil); you can prevent cross-contamination in your shopping cart by placing seafood in individual plastic bags. Finally, fresh is not always best. Seafood Health Facts explains that frozen seafood can be superior to fresh seafood, so always base your purchasing decisions on product quality, not fresh versus frozen.

Ready to stun your guests with fresh and flavorful seafood starters? Keep reading to discover 7 recipes.

1. Lobster Cakes with Papaya Mayonnaise

lobster cakes

Lobster cakes | iStock.com

Lovely lobster flavors abound in What’s Cooking America’s recipe, which was adapted from Chef Gregory Cornelius. Unlike many other lobster dishes, you’ll find that this one is relatively easy to prepare. Lobster meat, jalapeño peppers, and red pepper are pulsed in a food processor, mixed with spices, mayo, and bread crumbs, and formed into patties. At this point, you’ll need to refrigerate them at least 3 hours or overnight, so plan accordingly. This step ensures the cakes are firm, and prevents them from breaking up when they’re fried. Before frying your cakes, lightly dredge them in a few more breadcrumbs; they’ll hold up for about an hour in a 200-degree oven.

Ingredients:

  • Papaya Mayonnaise
  • 1 pound (approximately 2 cups) cooked fresh or frozen lobster meat
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño chile peppers, seeded and finely diced (or to taste)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2½ cups dry unseasoned breadcrumbs, divided
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Papaya Mayonnaise

  • 1 cup finely-peeled and chopped papaya (about 1 medium)
  • Juice of 1 medium lime
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise

Directions: To prepare papaya mayonnaise, remove the papaya skin and seeds, and discard. Use a food processor to purée the papaya and the juice of the lime until smooth. You should have approximately 1 cup of papaya purée. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and add the sugar and mayonnaise. Stir until smooth. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

To make the patties, in a food processor, pulse the lobster, jalapeño peppers, and red pepper just enough to break the lobster into small pieces. Transfer lobster mixture to a large bowl. Add thyme, allspice, mustard, sugar, egg, mayonnaise, and ½ cup of bread crumbs, mixing well. Divide the mixture into 16 portions and form into small patties. Place onto a baking sheet lined wither with parchment or wax paper; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator at least 3 hours or overnight. Place remaining bread crumbs in a flat dish or shallow dish dish; lightly dredge chilled lobster patties in the crumbs.

In a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, heat butter until hot but not smoking; add more butter if needed. Gently lay chilled lobster cakes onto bottom of the pan; fry 3 to minutes per side or until until golden brown on each side. Remove from heat and let drain on paper towels. Place 2 or 3 lobster patties onto individual serving plates and serve warm with Papaya Mayonnaise.

2. Crab Cakes

crab cakes

Crab cakes | iStock.com

We can’t move on to other seafood appetizers before first mentioning Paula Deen’s crab cakes, which can be found via Food Network. Crushed crackers, onions, bell pepper, seasonings, and mayo are mixed with crab meat and then fried, creating a palate-pleasing appetizer party goers will love. The recipe yields 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound crab meat, picked free of shells
  • ⅓ cup crushed crackers
  • 3 green onions (green and white parts), finely chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped bell pepper
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Flour, for dusting
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • Favorite dipping sauce, for serving

Directions: In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the flour and peanut oil. Shape into patties and dust with flour. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve warm with preferred sauce.

3. Shrimp Cocktail with Three Sauces

shrimp cocktail

Shrimp cocktail | iStock.com

Martha Stewart delivers a starter that won’t disappoint. This appetizer also happens to be easy to prepare, making it a great go-to for any get-together. Shrimp are boiled in a large pot of water, transferred to an ice-water bath, drained, and refrigerated. Your dips, which range from a refreshing mango-basil sauce to a tangy tomato-horseradish sauce, require minimal preparation. A little pulsing, whisking, and stirring is all it takes!

Ingredients:

Shrimp

  • Coarse salt
  • 1 pound (about 25) large shrimp, heads (optional) and shells on
Mango-Basil Sauce
  • 2 small mangoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ lemon, peeled and rind finely chopped (2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch freshly ground white pepper
  • 5 basil leaves, thinly sliced

Tomato-Horseradish Sauce

  • 1 cup chili sauce, such as Heinz
  • ½ cup prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Remoulade
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon spicy stone-ground mustard
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ tablespoon finely chopped scallion
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Make the shrimp: Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Boil shrimp until opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, and transfer to ice-water bath to cool. Drain, and refrigerate. Make the mango-basil sauce: Pulse mangoes, lemon rind and juice, vinegar, salt, and white pepper in a food processor until smooth. Fold in basil.

Make the tomato-horseradish sauce: Stir together chili sauce, horseradish, and lemon juice. Season with black pepper. Make the remoulade: Whisk together mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard. Stir in celery, parsley, and scallion. Season with black pepper. Serve immediately. Place shell-on shrimp in a large bowl, or peel shrimp and arrange in small serving dishes. Serve with the 3 sauces on the side.

4. Southwestern Seafood Egg Rolls

seafood eggrolls

Eggrolls | iStock.com

Scallops, shrimp, and zesty seasonings create a delicious filling for phyllo dough. Taste of Home suggests assembling your egg rolls in the morning, refrigerating, and baking them as your guests begin to arrive. Don’t worry — they only take 12 to 15 minutes to bake, so party goers won’t be kept waiting long! The recipe yields 2 dozen.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound uncooked bay scallops
  • ¼ pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Dash ground turmeric
  • ¼ cup soft breadcrumbs
  • 12 sheets phyllo dough, 14-by-9 inches
  • ½ cup butter, melted

Directions: In a large skillet, sauté scallops, shrimp, and ½ teaspoon garlic in 1 tablespoon oil for 2 minutes or until seafood is opaque. With a slotted spoon, remove from the pan and coarsely chop; set aside. In the same skillet, combine the tomato, onion and remaining garlic and oil; simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, cilantro, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, and turmeric. Simmer, uncovered, until liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in seafood mixture and bread crumbs.

Cut the phyllo dough into 14-by-4½-inch strips. Cover with a damp towel until ready to use. Lightly brush one strip with butter. Top with another strip; brush with butter. Place a tablespoonful of seafood mixture near one short side; fold in the long sides and roll up. Brush lightly with butter. Place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining phyllo and filling. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Caviar-Stuffed New Potatoes

Caviar-stuffed potatoes

Caviar-stuffed potatoes | iStock.com

Simple and stunning, Eating Well’s caviar-stuffed new potatoes are perfect for your next party. Hollow out potatoes, fill each with caviar, and for a tasty touch, top with crème fraîche and chives. This recipe yields 16 pieces and takes 10 minutes to make.

Ingredients:

  • 16 boiled red potatoes, chilled
  • 4 teaspoons caviar
  • 4 teaspoons crème fraîche
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives

Directions: Slice off one end of each potato and hollow out a small bowl in the other end with a melon baller. Fill each potato with ¼ teaspoon caviar. Top with ¼ teaspoon crème fraîche and sprinkle with chives.

6. Ahi Poke

poke

Ahi poke | iStock.com

Ahi Poke, a popular Hawaiian appetizer, is a tasty addition to any party. Cooking Channel’s recipe consists of diced Ahi tuna loin, which is combined with onion, ginger, scallion, soy, and sesame sauce, and served with lettuce cups and fried wontons. Do note that it’s important to use high-quality tuna in this dish. It yields 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Ahi tuna loin cut into ½-inch dice
  • ¼ cup minced maui onion
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons scallions thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Juice of half lime

Directions: Whisk together all ingredients except for tuna. When ready to serve combine dressing with tuna and squeeze a half lime over top. Serve with lettuce cups and fried wonton skins.

7. Smoked Salmon “Sushi” Topper

smoked salmon sushi

Smoked salmon sushi | iStock.com

Stuffed with cream cheese, spinach leaves, pepper, and cucumber, Kraft’s Smoked salmon sushi is the perfect topper for crackers. This recipe, which yields 6 servings, can easily be made in advance. Prepare the rolls early in the day, and refrigerate them for up to 8 hours. Slice and place on crackers just before serving. You can spice these rolls up by topping each with wasabi.

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices smoked salmon
  • 1 tablespoon sundried tomato and basil cream cheese spread, divided
  • 3 small spinach leaves
  • 2 thin red pepper strips
  • 2 thin cucumber strips
  • 12 woven wheat crackers
Directions: Stack salmon slices, with slices slightly overlapping, to form 6-by-4-inch rectangle. Spread with 2 teaspoons cream cheese spread; cover with spinach. Carefully spread remaining cream cheese onto spinach. Arrange peppers and cucumbers along 1 long side of salmon stack. Starting from topped edge, roll up salmon, jelly-roll fashion, to make log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to slice. Cut roll-up into 12 slices; place on crackers.
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