How to Throw a New Year's Eve Seafood Party
There are two big options for throwing a seafood party this New Year’s Eve: You can have a sit-down dinner, or you can build a seafood bar. Most people choose a sit-down seafood dinner for a more formal Christmas holiday gathering and elect to have a seafood bar for New Year’s.
As you might guess, a seafood bar is more relaxed and less formal than a sit-down dinner. Most people would agree that it suits the party atmosphere that defines New Year’s Eve very well. Now that you know, it’s time to find out what goes into planning a seafood New Year’s Eve party.
Building a Seafood Bar for New Year’s Eve
Seafood, in general, is so versatile that no matter the diverse tastes of your party guests, there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy. A seafood New Year’s Eve party will definitely stand out from the rest, and your guests will remember it for years to come.
New Year’s Eve is meant to be excessive, and seafood has a wow factor that tops just about anything else that might be an option for your New Year’s cuisine. There are five simple steps to follow to make sure that your seafood bar is nothing short of spectacular for NYE.
Step 1: Pick Your Seafood
You can choose any seafood you want for your New Year’s Eve party seafood bar, but most people prefer to stick to simple food options that require very little preparation. These include clams, oysters, crab, ceviche, shrimp, scallops, and of course, lobster!
Most of these dishes don’t take very long to cook or prepare, which means less time fussing over pots and more time mingling with your party guests. There are unlimited combinations of ways you can prepare all of your seafood, but the following are a few ideas to get you started:
One of the easiest ways to prepare clams for New Year’s Eve is by steaming them with garlic butter, herbs, and lemon. Start by cleaning the clams and then place them in a bowl. Cover them with fresh water and set aside for 20 minutes. Drain, then scrub the clams with a little brush.
Melt butter in a pan and heap in the garlic. Add some white wine and bring to a simmer. Add the clams, and after they open, season with salt, pepper, and parsley, then serve.
Your NYE party would hardly be festive without oysters of some kind on your seafood bar!
For oysters on the half shell, keep them packed on crushed ice until New Year’s Eve. Clean and shuck them right before serving. When it’s time to set them out, scoop crushed ice into your serving platter and nestle the shells into the ice. Then, arrange lemon wedges, mignonette, and hot sauce on the platter.
If you don’t want raw oysters, you can easily grill or bake them or go for easy oysters Rockefeller. If you cook oysters in your oven as part of your chosen recipe, make sure to use a cast-iron pan and use rock salt. This will help to keep the shells in place and stay warm for serving.
There are several variations of ceviche, and one of our favorites is shrimp and mango ceviche. This is a great option as a crowd-pleaser because it is low-fat and free of dairy, gluten, and wheat, like most other seafood. Ceviche is meant to be eaten as an appetizer and can be enjoyed with sweet potatoes, tortilla chips, rice, tostadas, and more.
You can bread them and fry them, just cook and chill them, or use them in recipes. You can buy them with the tails on or off, already deveined, and cooked or raw, depending on how you will be using them. We’re talking about the very versatile shrimp, of course! These little guys are always a hit at get-togethers, no matter how you serve them.
One of the most delicious ways to eat scallops is to have them wrapped in bacon, of course! Scallops, just like other types of seafood, are extremely versatile. Make sure to use North Atlantic scallops that can be shipped right to you.
If you get scallops that are prewrapped in bacon, just bake them for 20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Then serve; that’s it!
When it comes to lobster, how you serve it at your seafood bar depends on how many people will be attending. If you’re hosting just a small handful of people, you can choose to serve individual whole Maine lobster tails, if you like.
For a larger crowd, you can cut the steamed lobster tails into smaller strips. Which option you choose may also vary depending on the Maine lobster season and the current Maine lobster market price.
Step 2: Build Your Seafood Bar
As you build your seafood bar, make sure to keep everything on ice that needs to be chilled, such as the shrimp cocktail and the oysters on the half-shell. For items that need to be warm, including lobster and crab legs, steam tables work great.
In lieu of a bar where food is laid out across a spread, consider building a seafood tower. If you’d like to use a two-tiered tower, you need two large, wide bowls, with the smaller bowl on a stand above the larger bowl. For the top layer, add everything that is cooked, including the shrimp, lobster, crab, and all of the accompanying sauces.
On the bottom bowl, place all of the raw seafood. Spread crushed ice and nestle your oyster shells in it. You can add lemon wedges here and additional sauces, too.
Step 3: Sides and Non-Seafood Items
You may want to consider side dishes and non-seafood foods to offer for your New Year’s Eve party, too. These can include anything from dinner rolls and tossed salads to soups like lobster bisque and various kinds of pasta. Some hosts add steamed vegetables to the bar or tower, too.
Step 4: Tools and Accessories
One of the many things that make seafood so much fun is the array of tools and accessories needed to help you and your pals eat it all! You’ll need to make sure that you have plenty of the following on hand to set out:
- Tons of napkins and wet naps
- Individual finger bowls with lemon water for sticky fingers
- Tiny forks for the oysters
- Seafood picks for crab legs (if pre-cracked)
- Crackers and small crab forks for crab legs (if not pre-cracked)
- Bowls for discarding shells
You may also want to provide oversized napkins or even disposable seafood bibs to your guests!
Step 5: Don’t Forget the Drinks
With everything going on surrounding your seafood bar, try to remember the drinks! While it’s entirely possible to ring in the New Year with plates of seafood, most people still enjoy doing so with some bubbly.
For alcoholic beverages, everything from beer to wine to champagne to mixed cocktails is a wonderful choice. If you want to provide some nonalcoholic drinks, sparkling grape juice has become an enormous hit and is available in many different delicious flavors.
Start Planning Your NYE Seafood Menu
It’s never too early to start planning for the holidays! When the time comes to order the seafood for your amazing New Year’s party, make sure to order from Lobsters Online, and contact us with any questions you have!