What is Fruits De Mer?
Fruits de mer is an array of seafood and dipping sauces commonly served cold as an appetizer or hors d'oeuvre. As the origins of the name suggest, this dish is native to France and is widely served in many regions of the world, particularly in coastal cities and towns where there is a ready supply of seafood. Using fresh seafood is very important because this dish traditionally includes raw seafood and food safety is a concern.
This dish can include an assortment of raw and cooked seafood including shrimp, mussels, clams, lobster, and crab. The seafood is laid out on a platter and the dish is brought out with dipping sauces. A variety of sauces can be used, including spicy chili sauces and creamy mustard sauces. For food safety reasons, people often serve fruits de mer on ice, with the ice keeping the seafood at a cool temperature to inhibit bacterial growth.
Catering companies can provide fruits de mer platters for parties, with everything arranged as needed. People can also assemble their own platters. Because the seafood is served in the shell, there is usually limited room on the service platter, and people may need to keep more food under refrigeration to periodically replenish the platter to keep it looking full. Containers can be discreetly provided for the disposal of shells and other inedible parts.
When selecting seafood for this dish, people should look for fresh seafood without a strong fishy odor. If shellfish are being purchased in the shell, open shells should clamp shut when tapped. Live seafood should be stored under refrigeration in containers with room to drain until it is needed. Shells can be opened with a shellfish knife directly before service. Cooked seafood can be cooked ahead of time and kept in the fridge until the cook is ready to plate the fruits de mer.
This dish can be served at brunches, lunches, and other occasions. Cold seafood can be refreshing and may be popular in the summer months, when cold appetizers are preferred by guests. People may also use the term “fruits de mer” to refer to mixed seafood dishes such as pasta with seafood, referring to the “fruits of the sea” being served on the pasta. If diners see this term on a menu and are confused about how it is being used, they can ask a member of the waitstaff for clarification. Waitstaff can also provide information about whether accommodations for allergies or either dietary concerns are a possibility.
I spent some time in Normandy and had some amazing seafood there. I once was invited to a party at a chateau and they served the most beautiful and delicious fruit de mer platters you have ever seen. It was like they were prepared by Poseidon himself.
They had all kinds of fish, both raw and cooked. Shrimp and oysters and all kinds of other shell fish. They even had some edible sea plants that were an nice compliment to the fish. This was almost 20 years ago but I still have strong memories of this appetizer because it was so impressive and delicious.
A fruit de mer platter is great because people always think of shrimp cocktail without considering all the other delicious creatures of the sea that they could easily serve up as appetizers. I love shrimp but give me an oyster, a scallop and a mussel as well and I am in heaven.
A nice chilled seafood platter can be a great choice for an appetizer at a party but you want to make sure that you use only quality, fresh seafood. If you cannot find any good seafood you might as well just serve a different appetizer.
Seafood is one of those things that is more about it's natural quality than the way you prepare it. If it is not good seafood it does not matter how much butter or sauce you put on it, the poor quality will show through. On a fruit de mer platter the seafood is served cold and with almost no preparation. Make sure that you are using only the finest seafood or else you will be doing a disservice to your guests.
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