Gourmet Seafood Appetizers

Shrimp salad

The next time you host a party or gathering, why not try serving some gourmet seafood appetizers? Since most seafood is bite-sized, it lends itself well as hors d'oeuvres. Gourmet seafood appetizers can offer impressive presentation and flavor for any gathering.

Grilled Shrimp on Sugar Cane Skewers

These shrimp are deliciously sweet because they are cooked on a skewer of sugar cane instead of a traditional wooden skewer. Sugar cane skewers can be made by cutting sugar cane, which is found at many Asian markets and grocery stores.

Shrimp Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • dash salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • sugar cane skewers cut from sugar cane or sugar cane swizzle sticks

Shrimp Instructions

  1. Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl. Add shrimp and mix to coat the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
  2. Skewer the shrimp on sugar cane.
  3. Brush the shrimp with the rum glaze and grill on a lightly coated grill until cooked through.

Glaze Ingredients

  • ¼ cup dark brown or muscovado sugar, tightly packed
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • ¼ cup dark corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons sweet hot mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Glaze Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer until it is a syrup - about five minutes.

Scallops and Caramelized Pears With Balsamic Glaze

This appetizer is adapted from a classic foie gras recipe, substituting jumbo sea scallops for the foie gras.


  • 1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 fresh pear, cored and sliced thinly
  • ½ cup super fine sugar
  • 2 pounds large scallops, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Finely ground fennel seed
  • Toast points


  1. Prepare the glaze: simmer together balsamic vinegar and honey until liquid is reduced by half and syrupy. Set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a 12" sauté pan until it is brown and bubbly.
  3. Dip pear slices in sugar and then place in a single layer in the butter. Cook until both sides are well-browned, about six to eight minutes.
  4. Remove pears from the pan and set aside on a paper towel.
  5. Sprinkle salt and crack pepper on both sides of the scallops.
  6. If you need to add more butter to the pan, melt about one to two tablespoons - enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat the butter until it starts to sizzle in the pan.
  7. Place scallops in a single layer in the pan and cook on both sides until slightly browned - about three to five minutes per side.
  8. To serve, layer the pears and scallops on the toast points. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze and then sprinkle with ground fennel seed.

Crab and Artichoke Dip

This is a classic appetizer dip. Other types of seafood can be added or substituted for the crab, including shrimp and lobster.


  • 14 oz artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup lump crab meat (fresh)
  • 3/4 cup asiago cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Thinly sliced baguette for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice in a food processor until it is well mixed.
  3. Scrape the mayonnaise mixture into a bowl. Fold in the crab, artichoke hearts and cheese until combined, reserving a small amount of the cheese.
  4. Transfer dip to an oven-proof dish such as a large ramekin or small casserole dish. Sprinkle a little asiago cheese over the top.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the top is bubbly.
  6. Remove the dip from the oven and sprinkle it with parsley.
  7. Serve the dip with baguette slices.

Mussels in White Wine Sauce

This wonderful appetizer is even better when served with a warm, crusty bread, such as a baguette or sourdough, to sop up the juices.

Mussels in white wine sauce


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds mussels in shells, cleaned
  • 750 mL (1 bottle) dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh fennel fronds
  • Lemon slices, optional


  1. In a large pot, heat the butter on medium-high heat until it bubbles.
  2. Add the shallot and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about five minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the mussels, white wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the mussels open, about 7 minutes.
  6. Stir in the fennel fronds just before serving.
  7. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.

Other Gourmet Seafood Appetizers

Other gourmet seafood appetizers can be made combining gourmet ingredients, such as truffles, saffron or pancetta with simple seafood ingredients. Some examples:

  • Wrap bits of cooked lobster meat and slices of melon in prosciutto.
  • Make a delicious salmon mousse.
  • Top seared scallops with shaved truffles or truffle oil.
  • Stuff mushroom caps with lobster, mayonnaise and parmesan cheese.

Create a Gourmet Seafood Spread

Try each of these recipes before your next party so you're familiar with them. Once you've made them, you'll see how easy it is to create a few of your own recipes. With a little imagination and delicious ingredients, you'll have a gourmet seafood spread you can be proud of.

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Gourmet Seafood Appetizers