Festive and refined, seafood platters are always in the spotlight at the end of the year. They are even part of the French favourite dishes! The possibilities of composition are endless... To skillfully combine shellfish and crustaceans, rely on all the marine flavours that thrill your palate as well as the know-how of experts.
So, how to choose the right seafood platter? Our survey to shellfish sellers and fishmongers reveal the best tips!
What is the composition of an ideal seafood platter?
A seafood platter is made according to each specific criteria:
→ the time of consumption (aperitif, starter or main course)
→ the number of people (and their appetite for each type of seafood)
→ taste and preferences (shellfish and/or crustaceans)
After you have understood this, there are as many seafood trays as there are consumers!
It is from these elements that professionals determine the necessary quantities to elaborate your tray. For them, the challenge is two-fold: your satisfaction and an accurate quantity estimation to avoid as much food waste as possible.
That’s why fishmongers take time to talk with you, understand your needs in order to give you good advice and guide you in your choices.
Their objective is to create a tailor-made composition to satisfy your taste buds and desires. "A plateau that’s unique will be more appreciated," said Sébastien de la Capitainerie in Cernay in France.
The secret is the customization of seafood trays.
Presentation of a three-storey seafood tray composed by the Jahier fish shop in Rennes, France
Tips and tricks from fish experts
ProcSea contacted fishmongers from all over France to gather all the best ideas to make our seafood trays. We would like to thank them for their time and for sharing their "little secrets" with us.
Scalers that do contests, make different trays than what you can find in fish shops. For David from the Beluga fish market in Cannes in France, "Mickaël Lenoir, who is World Champion of Scalers 2018, makes extraordinary trays!”.
What do you absolutely need to know to make your seafood platter a success?
For the fishermen interviewed, the most important thing is, of course, the freshness of the seafood. Whether raw or cooked, the products must arouse desire.
However, they warned us about the trays in cellophane as it is harder to identify freshness visually.
The cooking process
The preparation and cooking of crustaceans and certain shellfish is an important, and sometimes, delicate step. Amateurs will be able to recognize the culinary know-how.
It is therefore necessary to anticipate the cooking a few hours before the trays are made, to have a good knowledge of the time table and possibly add a "homemade" touch.
In addition, by using a professional scaler, there is less chance of finding scales in oysters.
- Two schools: seaweed or ice?
Usually, seafood is placed on ice. However, it melts quickly and the idea that the products are bathed in water is not very appreciated.
For Arnaud of the Quoniam fish market in Paris in France, oysters must not be in direct contact with ice because "they will lose their flavor". Adding algae is a good alternative.
- Beauty secrets from our fishmongers!
Sébastien's visual tip at the Capitainerie: "I use a lot of organic fruit and vegetables to play with colours".
For a result between land and sea, you can combine seafood with citrus fruits (tangerine, pomelo, orange), lettuce or cherry tomatoes to bring greenery to your trays. He also cuts limes or lemons to embellish his compositions and places them on his trays.
Different compositions of seafood platters decorated with citrus fruits and salad by the Capitainerie la Capitainerie in Cernay, France
- Product organization
Perhaps aesthetics is the key to the success of seafood platters? A beautiful tray, neat and tidy, makes you want to taste it...
The trick is to intercalate and place seafood products in different places so that they are easily accessible. Quentin, at Julia's fish shops in Lyon in France, tells us his trick: "Don't let your arms crossed! Everything must be accessible at any place! This is essential for us!". They go as far as to place the grey shrimps one by one to take care of their compositions.
Presentation of a seafood platter well organized by Julia's fish shops in Lyon, France
- Personalization and originality
A classic seafood platter contains a base lined with oysters and in the center shellfish, which is a "more luxurious" product (crab, lobster, lobster).
Coralie Elvira, first in the Atlantic Golden Pearl competition, adorns her trays with products that are not well known in gastronomy, such as sea anemone which is a very tasty product, or crépidules.
How does your fishmonger manage the high demand at the end of the year?
To ensure the holiday season success, professionals must anticipate. "What is important is the organization upstream, quantify the orders well, calculate everything in advance" according to Julien from the Jahier fish market in Rennes in France. Everything must be considered, from procurement to logistics.
Thierry at La criée des Grands Hommes in Bordeaux in France, tells us that "the most important thing is the pre-order! For the Christmas and New Year's holidays, you have to anticipate as much as possible." During this period of high demand, fishmongers must provide temporary storage solutions.
The advice of professionals is to make a simple composition and presentation so it doesn’t take too much time. And for the more experienced, good management and not taking too many orders is also being reasonable.
The craze for seafood platters requires an exceptional organization from fishmongers at the end of the year, however they take pleasure in developing them. This is a time when they let their creativity speak for itself.
The "GOLDEN" advice is to make aesthetic trays, filled with beautiful products, while limiting losses. Coralie Elvira's trick is to get as much information as possible about the products to be able to tell a story.