This Chilled Seafood Tower is a trendy dish that takes a bit of time to prepare. Although this dish looks fancy, it’s really not too difficult to make. Find out what you need to make a seafood tower just in time for your next holiday gathering or celebration!
While we’re not Italian and don’t religiously abstain from eating meat during the holiday season, however we still LOVE celebrating with a Feast of 7 Fishes on Christmas Eve. My Seafood Tower is the easiest (and healthiest) way to serve an abundance of delicious seafood to your guests, at any get together!
Making your own Seafood Tower can seem intimidating, when in reality it’s so much easier than most other ways you could serve the “bounty of the sea” including the best assortment of seafood and shellfish. A lot of the prep work can be done the day before and simply assembled right before your guests arrive! Making a seafood tower a breeze to serve at your next get together or celebration!
What Seafood should you use?
Of course you’re going to need SEAFOOD for your tower. I recommend wild caught seafood from reputable sources for your raw bar assortment; especially if you’re going to serve raw oysters. It’s always best to discuss the quality of your seafood with your local fishmonger, expect some items to be very affordable while others may be market price. And, duh, if your buying seafood from a location that doesn’t have a fishmonger then you definitely need to be extra cautious!
If you’re not into raw seafood like caviar, ahi tuna or oysters, no worries! Just leave them off your fresh seafood towers menu, but the rest of the seafood will be cooked; like cocktail shrimp, mussels, littleneck clams, petit lobster, cracked crab legs, snow crab, crab claws smoked salmon, Maine lobster, whole lobster, scallops, crab salad, octopus/calamari, etc.
The Best Seafood for a Seafood Tower
- oysters raw, in the half shell
- shrimp, cooked & chilled
- mussels raw, in the shell
- clams raw, in the shell
- lobster claws, cooked & chilled
- lobster tails, cooked & chilled
- king crab legs, cooked & chilled
- smoked salmon
How To Make a Chilled Seafood Tower
Then you’ll need to find a 3-TIER TOWER, most often they are combination items like a set of stackable cake stand. THIS is the stacked 3 tier appetizer tower that I use and love. You can also serving platter or platter(s) that you already have, simply stacked into tiers with a small bowl in-between if you can’t find a seafood tower that you love. You can also just serve this tower as a seafood platter on a large tray of your choice.
Make sure the trays are deep enough for ice and won’t leak water. I like this set of 3 – glass stands that stack to be a tower, it is beveled so as the ice melts it won’t leak. Speaking of ice, make sure your ice maker is on or don’t forget to grab a bag before you head home!
We LOVE our nugget ice maker and can’t speak highly enough of it. We recommend it to all of our friends and family, If you love that “sonic” style ice, trust me, it’s totally worth the investment. And a nugget ice maker makes the perfect ice for a Chilled Seafood Tower! Everyone will then know that you are the people with the “good ice” and be prepared for everyone to want to take some home! If you don’t have a nugget ice maker you can use crush ice too.
It’s also a great idea to have an assortment of the right tools on hand like seafood picks, individual finger bowls, tiny forks, discard bowls and napkins. Just like you’d have at a fancy restaurant without the high price tag or reservations! But you’ll still need to bring your appetite!
And sauces, let’s not forget you gotta have some delicious sauces to dip that chilled seafood in! Left to Right; Classic Cocktail Sauce, Warm Cowboy Butter and Chipotle Remoulade! A Mignonette sauce is also a delicious addition as well.
The day before your celebration, you can seam your seafood and make your sauces so that you’ll be relaxed and focused on the perfect presentation! (and enjoying a chilled glass of champagne or one of your favorite cocktails!)
I mean, really though.
A Chilled Seafood Tower is always the most beautiful presentation, don’t you think?? And the dill is so perfect for the holidays, it gives you all the feels of fresh cut pine!
Garnish your Ultimate Chilled Seafood Tower with fresh dill and lemon wedges. Add the cocktail sauce and remoulade in cute cups on the tower, but serve the Cowboy butter warm!
Funny story, I bought these butter warmer nearly 10 years ago when shopping with my Mom. She commented that I’d NEVER use them.
Mom was wrong, we use the all the time. We eat seafood frequently and they are totally worth having.
And even though you’re serving delicious sauces, don’t forget to keep a bottle of TABASCO® handy!
While I love most seafood dipped in sauces, I sincerely LOVE my oysters with a splash of TABASCO® right before shooting them down, you too??
What to serve with a Chilled Seafood Tower?
While a chilled seafood tower can certainly be a meal in itself… you might want to serve other foods alone with it. You can’t go wrong with crackers or crusty French bread. For more of a meal, I always suggest a surf-n-turf vibe and having steak for dinner after your seafood tower!
If you love seafood (like me!) try these recipes next:
- Ninja Foodi Grilled Salmon w/Sriracha Honey Glaze
- The Best Spicy Crab Kani Salad
- Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl
- Shrimp Caesar Pasta Salad
Chilled Seafood Tower
Classic Cocktail Sauce
Cowboy Butter Sauce
- Allow all frozen seafood to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Make sauces the night before to allow the flavors to combine.
- Combine all Cocktail Sauce ingredients together and mix well. Store in a jar or covered container in the refrigerator.
- In a small food processor, combine Remoulade ingredients. Pulse to combine. You want it to have a texture like a Tarter sauce, do not process until smooth. Store in a jar or covered container in the refrigerator.
- In a small skillet, heat all ingredients for the Cowboy Butter for 2-3 minutes over medium to allow the garlic to cook and flavors to infuse. Store in a jar or covered container in the refrigerator, reheat just prior to serving.
- Oysters, Cooked Shrimp and Smoked Salmon will be prepared just before serving, keep them in the fridge.
- Prepare seafood for steaming; cut crab legs into individual servings by cutting at the knuckles. De-beard and scrub mussels, discard any that are open. Scrub clams.
- In a dutch oven or other large heavy bottomed pot, steam crab legs, lobster tails, lobster claws, calms and mussels in 1 cup of dry white wine for 8 minutes.
- Clams and mussels can be removed as soon as they OPEN, roughly 3 minutes to avoid overcooking. Allow the crab and lobster to steam for the full 8 minutes. Discard any clams or mussels that do not open.
- Immediately place steamed seafood into an ice bath to cool it quickly and retain tender texture. Seafood can be steamed and chilled up to 24 hours before serving.
- Fill your 3 tier tower with ice. Arrange chilled (cooked seafood) and sauces.
- Carefully shuck raw oysters (last), add them to the tower and garnish with lemon wedges and fresh dill.