There’s no better way to complement seafood dishes than pairing fresh, inventive sauces and side dishes to the main attraction. One way to contemporize seafood is to riff off time-proven, old-school ideas, updating for modern tastes.
The heavier cream-based sauces and heartier side dishes of the past—loaded with butter, cream and starches—have given way to lighter preparations that enhance the seafood and don’t weigh it (and the palate) down.
Though raw shellfish offerings and seafood towers will likely always include classics like cocktail sauce, mignonette, and remoulade, hot mustard is a great addition. When made in-house, this simple condiment of mustard powder, white pepper, vinegar, and vegetable oil will stand apart from the plastic packets guests might be accustomed to.
Cooking shellfish also opens more inventive options. Think of grilled oysters topped with chorizo butter, barbecued shrimp surrounded by a chilled avocado and buttermilk soup, and seared scallops dressed in a light vanilla sauce with a side of healthier, antioxidant-rich forbidden rice.
Finned fish stands out when prepared with clean and refined cooking techniques that highlight the natural quality of the fish, and then amped up with light-yet-flavorful sauces and sides.
Serve poached Bay Winds® Chilean Sea Bass in a pool of beurre blanc, spiked with white grapes and a swoosh of mashed cauliflower (instead of the potatoes). Leaven meatier fishes like swordfish with a cherry and tomato vinaigrette and a side of bright spring peas, just touched with a little butter and sea salt.
For heartier salmon, roast under a savory yogurt horseradish meringue and plate alongside braised red cabbage or boiled new potatoes. Risottos also make excellent side dishes while packing a flavorful punch. Skillet-roasted cod, sauced with a sherry and shallot vinaigrette, is a taste sensation when accompanied by a scoop of the classic Italian rice dish, cleverly cooked down with equal parts chicken broth and carrot juice, rather than just the traditional wine and stock.
If sushi and sashimi-inspired dishes are on your menu, add to the usual soy or spicy mayonnaise dipping sauces and step it up with ishiru, a blend of fermented fish sauce and shoyu soy sauce. Aji amarillo, a luscious Peruvian yellow pepper sauce made with crema fresca and lime juice is another mindblowing option. As is bright, citrusy acevichado, a sauce made world-famous by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
For heat, wasabi is the gold standard, but to introduce guests to different profiles, get creative in sauce making with Korean gochujang. The perfect side for any raw fish dish? Piles of shelled edamame and shishito peppers or tiny, roasted Japanese sweet potatoes.