These 15 quintessential New Orleans seafood dishes may vary slightly from restaurant to restaurant, and they don’t make up the entire New Orleans seafood canon. However, they represent the basic elements of a cuisine rich in local seafood.
As part of our Spring 2015 Dining Guide, which identified the 15 best seafood restaurants in New Orleans, we offer these tips when finding the best examples of in-demand fish.
Is there a dish you wish we included? Is there a restaurant that you think improves a particular dish? Offer your advice in the comments below.
Shrimp cooked, usually with the shell and head still intact, in a rich butter sauce seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, garlic and black pepper. Copious amounts of bread are needed to mop up the sauce.
Excellent releases: Emeril’s — Mr. B’s Bistro — Pascal’s Manale
Fish sprinkled with a potent blend of spices and cooked over ultra-high heat, which “blackens” the surface of the fish. The technique is associated with Cajun cooking but was actually invented by Cajun-born chef Paul Prudhomme after he settled in New Orleans.
Excellent releases: Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar — Jacques-Imo’s Cafe — K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen
Grilled or broiled oysters in seasoned butter and grated hard cheese. The seasonings and type of cheese vary slightly from restaurant to restaurant.
Excellent releases: Drago’s — the Franklin — MeMe’s Bar & Grill
What Cajuns call courtbouillon is a bit like a spicy cross between San Francisco cioppino (a seafood and tomato stew) and bouillabaisse. It has nothing to do with the aromatic broth of the same common name in French cuisine.
Excellent releases: Cochon — Pelican Club — Restaurant August.
Chunk blue crabmeat folded with bechamel, topped with cheese and grilled until the surface is crispy brown. Gratins also made with crayfish, small prawns and local seafood combinations.
Excellent releases: Bon Ton Café — Emeril’s Delmonico — Gallagher’s Grill
A cold seafood salad prepared with a tangy mayonnaise dressing. Versions of this dish are often referred to as “homemade crabmeat”.
Excellent releases: Annunciation — Galatory — Table
An aromatic stew common in Cajun and New Orleans Creole cuisine served with rice. The most common stuffings are made by smothering shrimp or crayfish with the Holy Trinity. Many restaurants use etoufée as a sauce to drizzle over fish.
Large releases: Bon Ton Cafe — the Galley — Liuzza’s by the Track
Oysters cooked under a thick batter of spinach and other green vegetables mixed with, among other things, onion, garlic, parmesan and Herbsaint or another anisette liqueur.
Excellent releases: Antoine’s — Galatoire’s — Tommy’s Cuisine
Creamy soups made with shrimp, crayfish, blue crab or a combination of these. Corn is often included to round out the flavor, as are, to a lesser extent, other vegetables, such as squash or mirliton.
Excellent releases: Brigtsen’s — Morton’s Seafood — Peche Seafood Grill
Classic Louisiana dish made with local seafood, usually shellfish. It tends to be seasonal.
Excellent releases: Commander’s Palace — Dooky Chase — Gallagher’s Grill
Cold prawns coated in a spicy mustard-based vinaigrette. It is usually served in a salad with lettuce or on fried green tomatoes.
Excellent releases: Arnaud’s — Galatoire’s — Upperline
Whole flounder baked with a cavity full of seafood vinaigrette.
Excellent releases: Borgne — Fury — Middendorf’s
Ultra-thin cut catfish then fried into chip-like crisps.
Excellent releases: Crabby Shack — Middendorf’s — New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co.
Trout amandine is basically trout meunière sprinkled with slivers of toasted almonds – although in many restaurants in New Orleans, trout amandine is fried, not sautéed.
Large releases: Galatoire’s — Mandina’s — Table
The trout menuière is sautéed in butter and served in a New Orleans meunière (or brown butter) sauce. Drum and redfish are often replaced by trout.
Large releases: Clancy’s — Galatoire’s — Luke