The holidays are a time of year when we indulge — and there’s just something ultra festive about a vibrant, chilled seafood tower. Typically looked at in awe while dining at a contemporary seafood restaurant, you might be surprised to realize that making a tower chock-full of delicious ocean bounty is quite easy to do at home. All it takes is a little preparation and final assembly right before your holiday party guests arrive. Just follow these simple tips and everyone will be impressed!
Buy Good Quality, Sustainable Seafood
When you’re serving friends and family a big smattering of seafood, you want it be as fresh and delicious as possible. While some grocers offer fresh shellfish at their seafood counters, you’re better off going to a local fishmonger.
Prepare Seafood Same-Day, if Possible
Shellfish like mussels, clams and oysters, can be purchased a day or two ahead, and live safely in your refrigerator until you’re ready to prep them. The latter two can be cooked and chilled hours before eating, but set aside a few minutes to shuck the oysters right before assembling the tower.
Chill Tower Tiers Before Serving
Got a fridge full to the brim with holiday dishes and bottles of wine? Well, one of the handy things about our Canadian winters is the fact that our back deck or balcony can double as a large freezer (or fridge if you’re closer to the west coast). Giving the tower layers an hour or so to get cool will help keep the ice from melting too quickly while you’re assembling.
Have the Right Tools Handy
While you can remove all of the lobster meat beforehand, guests like a little hands-on activity at a party, so make sure to have the necessary seafood picks and seafood crackers (nut crackers work well in lieu) for people to use. Napkins too!
Don’t Have a Tower?
Although the tiered presentation definitely adds a “wow” factor to the table, using a couple large serving trays and laying out the myriad of shellfish over ice, studded with lemon wedges and ramekins of sauce is pretty appetizing, too.
How to Make a Seafood Tower
Total Time: 1 hour
Crushed ice (enough for each tower level, approximately 10 cups)
1 lb fresh mussels (steamed and chilled)
1 lb fresh manila clams (steamed and chilled)
12 freshly shucked oysters
24 large cooked prawns
1-2 lbs cooked lobster (claws, arms and tail separated)
⅔ cup seafood sauce
1 lemon (halved and cut into thin wedges)
Spicy Lemon Aioli
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp sambal oelek
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1. Evenly distribute crushed ice onto each of the 3 tower tiers.
2. On the bottom tier, lay out all of the clams, ½ of the mussels and ½ of the oysters.
3. On the outside of the second tier, alternate 1 oyster with 4 prawns. Work your way around the tier. Take lobster claws, arms and tail and place around the centre of the tier.
4. Fill any empty space on the second tier with remaining mussels.
5. On the top tier, place ramekins of sauce and fill remaining space with lemon wedges.
6. Place all ingredients for the spicy lemon aioli in a small bowl and stir to combine. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve with seafood.
Published December 19, 2016, Updated December 1, 2019