A New Tradition
Holiday dinners often involve ham and turkey. After six weeks, you might think turkey is for the birds! In Florida, many families serve a coastal catch or two by adding fresh seafood to their meals during this festive season. Seafood is a delicious way to enhance a favorite dish and it delivers ample nutrition.
This time of year is great for buying seafood, as the colder water provides a more nutrient dense diet to marine life. You can find plump target fish (such as amberjack, snapper, and grouper), shrimp and other shellfish at the grocery store or fish monger. We generally have more time during the holidays to try new recipes in the kitchen. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients will help bring your holiday meal to life! Unsure of where to start? You can learn about seafood nutrition, safety, and how to be a steward of the environment at the FishWatch website (www.fishwatch.gov).
When you buy fresh fish
1. Make sure it’s refrigerated or on ice.
2. The fish should be in a case or covered on a bed of ice.
3. Fish should be displayed with their bellies down, so the melting ice carries away bacteria and waste.
4. Fresh fish should smell nice, not stinky.
5. Their eyes should be clear and slightly bulging.
6. Fish should feel firm when you press them.
7. They should have shiny flesh and bright red gills without slime.
8. Fish fillets should not be dark or dried around the edges, or green or yellow.
People in Florida love fresh oysters during the holidays. They are as popular as pecans and walnuts but a bit harder to open! You can eat oysters as side dishes, appetizers, or snacks. Looking to start a new tradition? These mollusks make for a tasty hors d’oeuvres (especially with horseradish and cocktail sauce on a Saltine cracker!), but for those with weakened immune systems it’s better to cook the oysters to avoid getting sick. Cooking oysters can reduce the risk of potential bacterial contamination.
Oyster Dressing Recipe
Here’s a recipe for oyster dressing that goes well with turkey. It’s a new age twist on a classic dish! For more oyster and seafood recipes, visit “Florida Seafood Recipes” at safeoysters.org.
12-ounces Florida oysters
½ c. Florida celery, chopped
½ c. Florida onion, chopped
¼ c. butter
4 c. day-old bread cubes
1 tbsp. fresh Florida parsley, chopped or 1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. sage
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp. teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 325° F. Drain oysters; reserve liquid. Remove any remaining shell particles. Chop oysters. Cook celery and onion in butter until tender. Add oysters and oyster liquid to vegetables; cook for 10 minutes. Combine oysters, cooked vegetables, bread cubes and seasonings in a large bowl; mix thoroughly. If stuffing seems dry, moisten with added oyster liquid or chicken broth. Bake dressing in a greased casserole dish for 30 minutes.
For more information, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Bay County Office at 850-784-6105. Please visit us at 2728 E 14 St Panama City, Florida.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Andra Johnson, Dean for UF/IFAS Extension.