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By Sarah McLellan Mee
Of course, it may come as no surprise that we are BIG FANS of a seafood boil. It's a delicious fact—summertime and seafood feasts just go together! Depending on where you may be in the country, everyone has a slightly different riff or spin of their seafood boil style that feels like a taste of home. If you're looking for ideas for your next family-style meal that's perfect for a crowd, we're sharing some inspiration from New England to Louisiana, the Carolinas, and back to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Head to the South for a Low-Country Boil
Photo Credit: Epicurious
If you've ever traveled to the south, specifically the Carolinas, you may have heard of a Low-Country Boil. Also known as Frogmore Stew, One-Pot, or Farmer's Seafood Boil also shares similarities with the well-known Louisiana Crawfish Boil. At outdoor feasts (in and around the coastal areas of South Carolina primarily,) folks use plump shrimp instead of freshwater crayfish, along with red potatoes, sweet corn, and smoked sausage like Kielbasa. Flavored with lemons, bay leaf, and seasonings like Old Bay or Zatarain's—it's a delicious way to have a peel-and-eat feast with friends.
Don't Miss a Maryland Blue Crab Boil
Photo Credit: Serious Eats
On the East Coast, when it's blue crab season, you can bet that someone you know (or the coastal restaurants you may frequent) will be sure to host a blue crab boil. Bushels of crabs are steamed in large pots with beer and Old Bay and served upon newspaper for everyone to crack and enjoy. The crab's sweet meat needs little more than a dip in some melted butter, but similarly to other seafood boils around the country, you'll also see these feasts in Maryland accompanied by boiled potatoes, corn, and sometimes sausage.
Lean into Tradition with a New England-Style Lobster Bake
Photo Credit: Food52
In the North East, if you're not going to a lobster or clam bake in the summertime, you're not genuinely experiencing this region and its ocean bounty! The New England Lobster Bake is a traditional cooking method for seafood and usually includes whole lobsters, steamer clams, or Quahogs plus favorites like chorizo, potatoes, summer corn, and—wait for it—whole eggs. The eggs are more of a tool for knowing when your lobster is done vs. a flavor requirement, though. You may find some purists cooking their clam and lobster bakes on hot coals on the beach, complete with seaweed or corn husks, to prevent the shellfish from burning. But, of course, you can also use a large pot to create this feast too.
Spice things Up with a Louisiana Seafood Boil
Photo Credit: Louisiana Travel
Many may automatically put Louisiana and Cajun-style Crawfish together, but this deep southern state also loves a seafood feast with crab and peel-and-eat shrimp too. Usually, a backyard event requiring an extra-large (think 50-gallon) pot on top of a propane burner. The flavor comes from an aromatic blend of seasonings that the locals call "crab boil." It's relatively easy to find Zatarain's or Rex at a grocery or online store, but you can always try your hand at a homemade blend too. Beyond the succulent shrimp and crabs, you'll find seafood lovers also throw in Andouille sausage, whole artichokes, and even mushrooms to soak up all that flavor.
Celebrate the Bay Area with a Dungeness Crab Feed
Photo Credit: SF Chronicle
The West Coasters are serious about Dungeness Crabs, and when their season rolls around each year, everyone celebrates. Often used to help local community organizations or clubs fundraise, crab feasts or feeds are great ways to satisfy seafood enthusiasts. The crabs are boiled in large pots with the addition of traditional spice blends and seasonal produce like baby potatoes and cor; the whole feast gets poured out onto newspaper-lined tables for the crowds to dive in. In the Bay Area specifically, you'll see the boiled or steamed crabs also served with fresh baguettes or garlic bread, green salads, coleslaw, and sometimes, garlic noodles and Asian-style condiments.
Want to get your hands on some incredibly fresh shellfish from our fisherman partners in Massachusetts? Sign up for our Shellfish Lover's Box HERE>