Seafood Ideas – Foods to Pair

Pairing seafood with great sides doesn’t always come naturally. Here are some exciting and easy seafood ideas that will help you put together a great seafood meal for your family.

John Maher:  Hi. I’m John Maher. Today I’m here with Steve Woodman, co‑CEO of Woodman’s of Essex in Essex, Massachusetts, on the north shore of Massachusetts. Today we are talking about what goes best with seafood. Welcome, Steve.

Steve Woodman:  Thank you, John. Glad to be here.

What goes best with seafood?

John:  So, Steve, what does go best with seafood?

Steve:  What goes best with seafood? A sunny day, some relaxing on the beach, family and friends around you, and of course the seafood.

John:  Right. It really does make you think of all of that when you think about having seafood, especially like a clambake with lobsters or fried clams or something like that. It really does make you think about, like you said, a nice sunny summer day, and hanging out near the water, and family and friends, that sort of thing.

Why do you think that is? Just because there are so many seafood restaurants that are near the ocean and those are the places that people congregate to in the summer?

Steve:  Oh, yeah. Your location is near the water, so people come near the water to get their seafood. Of course you’re going to be thinking of…if you’re near the water, you want a sunny day.

You think about beach, you think about being with family and friends and just relaxing and enjoying yourself. What a better atmosphere than to have some really nice seafood and enjoy the day.

John:  At Woodman’s in Essex Massachusetts you have, in the summer, a tent set up out back? Is that right?

Steve:  That’s right. We have a good‑sized tent in the back of the restaurant that sits right on the Essex River with its salt marsh there.

It’s just a beautiful location to go grab a lobster, a lobster roll, or some fried clams or whatever you like. Just bring it out there and get on a picnic bench underneath the tent and just relax and enjoy the day and have some good food.

John:  Somehow it seems to make all of the food taste better to be outside and, like you said, a nice and casual atmosphere, sitting at the picnic bench underneath a tent by the water. It just makes everything taste better.

Steve:  Yeah, it always does. Even when you’re a kid, if you ever go camping and you just have a hamburger or a hotdog on the grill and you’re outside eating. You probably thought that was the best burger that you’ve ever had.

John:  It’s true.

Steve:  That’s the type of atmosphere and the feeling that you get when you’re at Woodman’s out by the tent, and you’re just enjoying yourself outside.

John:  What about actual side dishes for seafood? What are some typical things that get put on the plate with the seafood?

Steve:  With seafood you have, of course, your French fries and your coleslaw. The onion rings the way we make them – it’s a wet batter. We specialize in that onion ring. Corn on the cob is always thought of when you’re having seafood, whether it’s fried or whether it’s boiled or steamed. Those are the main dishes that most people think of.

John:  Right. Clam chowder, of course, always goes well with different kinds of seafood.

Steve:  Yeah. When I think of clam chowder, I really don’t think of a side dish.

John:  That’s a meal by itself.

Steve:  That could be a meal on its own. Some people do get a little appetizer, a little small chowder beforehand and do that.

John:  A cup of chowder. What about toppings on the seafood? Do you like to just keep it simple?

Steve:  I go through stages, but I do keep it simple. Sometimes I want a little tartar sauce with my fried seafood, or I like ketchup too. I’ve always liked ketchup. Woodman’s has always been a ketchup family. We grew up eating ketchup on just about everything. But with the boiled and the steamed clams, or the lobster, just plain old drawn butter.

John:  Just to dip it in and that’s all you need.

Steve:  It doesn’t go any better.

John:  What about drinks? What drinks work well with seafood?

Steve:  When you think of seafood, I think most people really think of a nice cold beer ‑‑ whether it’s a Boston lager that you’re going to have or maybe the local Ipswich Ale that we have on tap.

We even have an IPA, a Newburyport…it’s called a Greenhead IPA made in Newburyport ‑‑ different types of beer that we have here depending on what your pallet likes. It all goes great with seafood.

John:  Like you said, it goes great with being at the beach too. It’s just one of those things ‑ going to the beach and having a nice beer. What about wine? Do red wine, white wine…I know it was always said that white wine goes with fish, and red wine goes with meat. Is that still true?

Steve:  What most wine enthusiasts talk about now is “Drink what you like”. Whatever you enjoy drinking, that’s what you’re going to enjoy. In fact, the wine that we do sell, we probably sell just as much red wine as we do white wine.

John:  All right! Good information. Steve, thanks very much for talking with me today.

Steve:  Glad to be here.

John:  For more information, you can visit the Woodman’s website at, or call 978 768 6451.

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