Whether it’s a simple piece of grilled fish, oysters on the half shell, or decadent steamed lobster, seafood shines when it’s skillfully matched with the right side dish. And there’s no need to master a whole new set of recipes — many of the classics can easily step in as a perfect pairing. For your next nautical feast, try out this pairing guide to elevate your favorite seafood ingredients.
JUMP TO: Salmon, Crab, Oysters, Scallops, Lobster, Shrimp, Mussels, Tuna, Squid, Tilapia, Catfish, Caviar
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What to Pair With Salmon
One of the most popular seafood proteins, salmon’s mild, rich flavor and tender texture works best atop hearty grain bowls like kale and quinoa or a wheat berry and cauliflower salad.
What to Pair With Crab
Crab’s mellow taste plays well with bright, citrusy salads or leafy greens with creamy accents like avocado or salty cheese. If you’re looking for something different, transform crab into patties (think crab cakes) and serve with Mexican-inspired sides.
What to Pair with Oysters
There’s nothing quite like fresh oysters on the half shell. Keep it simple by pairing with potatoes or fresh corn. Or if you’re feeling bold, you can also recreate the experience of your favorite steakhouse with a classic surf and turf theme. Dishes like flank steak and beef lettuce wraps are sure to do the trick.
What to Pair with Scallops
The creamy salinity of this top-shelf seafood is enhanced by the savory smokiness of cured pork — we’re talking bacon. Try a bacon, avocado, and Brussels sprouts salad or poached eggs with leafy greens to really amp up the flavor of the scallops.
What to Pair with Lobster
This crave-able crustacean works best alongside crunchy, fresh veggies with tangy dressing or baked into mac-and-cheese for a bit of fancy flair.
What to Pair with Shrimp
Shrimp can really shine when paired with global-inspired flavors (think: Thai, Cajun, and Italian). During grilling season, charred shrimp also goes great in zesty tacos.
What to Pair with Mussels
A gastro-pub favorite, steamed mussels are friendly with all kinds of flavor profiles, from brothy and buttery to sweet and spicy. You can keep it classic by serving with French fries or crusty bread, but a seafood soup or lemongrass-ginger broth can also add to the flavor.
What to Pair with Tuna
Meaty and bursting with flavor, tuna can stand up to bold flavor profiles and does particularly well with Asian seasonings and fruit-forward sauces. Soba noodles or a creamy salad with a bright dressing makes for the perfect match.
What to Pair with Squid
Calamari is a popular protein in Italian and Italian-American cuisine, but it can just as easily meld into the flavors of a citrus-spiked ceviche. Grilled with a squeeze of lemon and a bit of olive oil, squid also loves a pasta or grain salad on the side.
What to Pair with Tilapia
The light, flaky flesh of tilapia makes it a nice compliment to zesty slaws and acidic, herbaceous flavors like this Mexican-inspired salad made from corn, tomatoes, and jalapeños.
What to Serve with Catfish
Frequently served in Southern American and Cajun cuisines, big, fiery spices are catfish’s match. For something more subtle, home style sides like coleslaw with grainy mustard or grilled corn on the cob pair well.
What to Pair with Caviar
These fish eggs contain salty pops of flavor in every bite, which means light, creamy spreads and simple crackers are all you need to make caviar shine. But you can also add some extra flavor by pairing with smoked salmon, cucumbers, and deviled eggs.