Seafood is an increasingly common part of many wedding menus, and for a good reason. They are nutritious, easy to prepare, and relatively cheap, depending on your location. It should be noted, however, that most seafood dishes need to be prepared and served in a specific way and at a certain temperature. So, if you plan on serving some seafood to your guests, whether as a cocktail hour special or as the main course during dinner, you will want to know about the serving requirements and their potential effects on your budget.
We have some advice from Kimberley Ashlee Haugh, founder of Kimberley Ashlee Catering, and she shared some tips on how to serve seafood on your big day.
Preparation is Key
According to Haugh, seafood can taste different depending on how you prepare it. Ideally, it would be best to prepare it cold or by smoking. On the other hand, serving it warm can make it dry out. “If you are doing food stations and have salmon displayed, it should be displayed in much smaller quantities than beef or chicken,” says Haugh. Do not assume that your caterer knows this. Communicate it expressly to them before they start the meal preparations.
Even as you leave the job to the caterer, you should research different ways to cook and present seafood. For example, Ms. Haugh recommends going with poached meals instead of roasted or grilled ones if you plan on having a plated dinner. Generally, poached preparations retain moisture much better than the other options.
Consider Guest Allergies
When planning your wedding menu, check if any of your guests have seafood allergies. These allergies are prevalent since most people can’t handle various compounds in fish protein. Haugh notes that she has come across several clients who explicitly requested her not to serve them seemingly popular foods like salmon, cod, and tuna. This serves as a testament that contrary to popular belief, shellfish are not the only type of fish that contain allergens. Scaly fish can also be a concern, so ensure you take all allergies into account during your wedding ceremony planning.
Seek Budget-Friendly Seafood Options
Seafood can be pretty expensive to serve as a main course. As such, if you want to keep your expenses under control, consider serving it during the cocktail hour as a tray-passed hors d’oeuvre instead of as an entree. Haugh suggests budget-friendly options like tuna poke, scallop, and bass ceviche instead of more expensive options like tuna or bass. If you fancy crab or shrimp on the menu, consider using it as a topping for steak instead.
Take the Season Into Account
Although seafood can be served year-round, the temperature during warmer seasons can affect the “freshness” of your assorted seafood dishes. For a summer wedding, caterers will need to frequently refresh ice at raw bar stations and replace untouched fish to keep it fresh. As a rule of thumb, Haugh recommends packing raw and chilled seafood with ice before serving to preserve the flavors. In addition, a heating element should be present for hot seafood to maintain the food temperature. This is especially important in colder months because food gets colder quicker, and no one wants to eat cold fish on a chilly afternoon.
Generally, seafood should be kept at the right temperature for a maximum of two hours before serving. However, in very hot weather, one hour would be enough.
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