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SUPER SEAFOOD FOR SUPER BOWL SUNDAY

Super Bowl Sunday sees most Americans gathered around the television set watching the big game, but you can still enjoy a nautical theme - and open up some freezer space - by delighting guests with these simple seafood delights.
By Joseph Albanese

Like millions of Americans, it’s likely you’ll find yourself spending Super Bowl Sunday in front of the television with family and friends watching the top two teams in the NFL go head-to-head. It’s the one day each year when just about everyone is a football fan. Over time, this championship game has transformed from a mere sporting event to a major social gathering that unites (and sometimes divides) families and friends across the country.

While the game’s the thing, many people at these gatherings are as intrigued by the action in the kitchen as they are on the gridiron. This is a great opportunity to turn your non-angler friends onto the joys of seafood – and it’s a terrific way to free up some space in the freezer. All of the following dishes are remarkably simple, and can be prepared by any would-be chef. Showing up at your gathering with one of these treats will certainly make you the hit of the party so give it a try and wow! your guests with these delicious and easy-to-make dishes.

SIMPLE CEVICHE
Ceviche is a great appetizer, and a fantastic low-fat alternative to cheese dips. This dish is always a crowd pleaser and the preparation couldn’t be any easier - you don’t even need to light the stove. I prefer blackfish but any firm, white-fleshed fish works well.

All of these dishes are remarkably simple and can be prepared by any would-be chef.
Ingredients:
1-lb. cubed fillet (blackfish, fluke, triggerfish)
1/2-lb. red onion, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
olive oil
lime juice
black pepper
sea salt
tortilla chips

Cut the fillet of your choice into 1/2-inch cubes. In a large Ziploc bag, place the fish and just enough lime juice to cover the meat and let it sit in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours. If you’re using fresh limes it should take about 4 or 5, but feel free to use bottled juice. Drain the excess juice. Combine the tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Fresh is best, but garlic from the jar works as well. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. I like to use sea salt with a little lemon zest, but any will do. Give the bag a good shake to mix everything up and return it to the fridge for an hour. Place in a bowl and lightly drizzle the olive oil over the top. Plate and serve with chips. While ceviche typically contains cilantro, I find it overwhelms the flavor of the fish. If you want a more authentic taste you can put a couple of tablespoons in yours. You can also add some chopped jalapeño for a spicy kick.

You can improve your presentation by serving this in a tortilla bowl. Don’t have one of the commercially available bowl makers? No problem. Take a muffin tin and turn it upside down. Coat it with cooking spray. Place a tortilla in the crevice between the indentations and put it in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Take it out when the tortilla begins to brown, around 12 minutes. Allow the bowl to cool and fill with the ceviche.

SOUTHERN STYLE FISH CAKES
While more traditional fish cakes use potatoes as a binder, this recipe uses Ritz Crackers. I primarily use bluefish for these, but nearly any fish will work. One of the advantages of this recipe is that you can prepare them the night before and simply reheat them during the big game. You can also double or triple this recipe and freeze the extra cakes, taking them out as needed. One afternoon in the kitchen with some cold ones can translate into months of good eating.

Ingredients:
1-2 pounds of fillets
2 cups of Ritz Cracker crumbs (2 sleeves)
1/2 tsp red pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp green pepper, chopped
1 tbsp. Old Bay
2 tbsp. spicy brown mustard
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
8 tbsp. light mayonnaise
4 eggs
Sea salt
Black pepper

Bake fillets for approximately 10 minutes, just until the fish begins to flake. Using a fork, flake the fillets and retain only the white meat. In a large bowl combine all ingredients, mixing until an even, peanut butter-like consistency is achieved. You may have to add some more mayo or crackers to get it just right. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Form hamburger sized patties. At this point you can fry in light oil on the stove top until the patties turn golden brown. Or, you can take a healthier approach and bake them at 350 for ten to 15 minutes, again looking for that golden brown color. Serve with your choice of cocktail sauce or tartar. As a variation on this you can make the cakes slider-sized and serve on mini buns with a slice of cheese. If you place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze, then vacuum seal, the cakes will remain moist and can spend a year or more in the freezer with no problem. (Thanks June.)

STRIPED BASS NUGGETS
This dish delights everyone, fish lover or not. Don’t count on having any leftovers with this on the menu. You can tailor these bite sized tidbits to your tastes by using different sauces, from mild to spicy. Don’t be afraid to try different flavors, anything that tastes good on a chicken wing will taste great here. Traditional crowd favorites are buffalo and teriyaki, but don’t be afraid to try something new. You can fry these up the night before, and toss in sauce and reheat in the oven (350 degrees) during the game.

Ingredients:
1 lb. of striped bass, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 box of tempura batter
2 tbsp. of Old Bay
1 or more bottles of wing sauce, whatever flavors you prefer
Cooking oil, extra light olive oil, peanut oil or sunflower will all work

In a large bowl, combine the tempura batter and Old Bay. Add water according to the directions on the box. You want a texture similar to pancake batter. On the stove heat a wok or similar pan filled with a light oil to about 360 degrees. Anything less than 350 will allow the batter to absorb the oil and become greasy, so if you have a thermometer now is the time to use it. (If you don’t have a cooking thermometer simply heat the oil until it just begins to smoke a bit, then dial the heat back a little.) Dip the chunks in the batter, evenly coating all sides. When the batter turns golden brown the fish is done. This usually takes three to five minutes per side. Place nuggets on a paper towel or, even better, a cooling rack, and allow excess oil to drain. Coat in your choice of sauce and serve.

I hope you give these recipes a try this year. If you do, they’ll quickly become a game-time favorite. At that point, you’ll be grateful they are so easy to prepare because your guests will eventually be asking for these delicious treats at every get-together, big game or not.

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