Fruits de mer is an array of seafood and dipping sauces commonly served cold as an appetizer or hors d'oeuvre. As the origins of the name suggest, this dish is native to France and is widely served in many regions of the world, particularly in coastal cities and towns where there is a ready supply of seafood. Using fresh seafood is very important because this dish traditionally includes raw seafood and food safety is a concern.
This dish can include an assortment of raw and cooked seafood including shrimp, mussels, clams, lobster, and crab. The seafood is laid out on a platter and the dish is brought out with dipping sauces. A variety of sauces can be used, including spicy chili sauces and creamy mustard sauces. For food safety reasons, people often serve fruits de mer on ice, with the ice keeping the seafood at a cool temperature to inhibit bacterial growth.
Catering companies can provide fruits de mer platters for parties, with everything arranged as needed. People can also assemble their own platters. Because the seafood is served in the shell, there is usually limited room on the service platter, and people may need to keep more food under refrigeration to periodically replenish the platter to keep it looking full. Containers can be discreetly provided for the disposal of shells and other inedible parts.
When selecting seafood for this dish, people should look for fresh seafood without a strong fishy odor. If shellfish are being purchased in the shell, open shells should clamp shut when tapped. Live seafood should be stored under refrigeration in containers with room to drain until it is needed. Shells can be opened with a shellfish knife directly before service. Cooked seafood can be cooked ahead of time and kept in the fridge until the cook is ready to plate the fruits de mer.
This dish can be served at brunches, lunches, and other occasions. Cold seafood can be refreshing and may be popular in the summer months, when cold appetizers are preferred by guests. People may also use the term “fruits de mer” to refer to mixed seafood dishes such as pasta with seafood, referring to the “fruits of the sea” being served on the pasta. If diners see this term on a menu and are confused about how it is being used, they can ask a member of the waitstaff for clarification. Waitstaff can also provide information about whether accommodations for allergies or either dietary concerns are a possibility.