Seafood and sweets might not immediately seem like a natural match, but the salty, sweet and briny tastes of common seafood dishes pair especially well with light, bright and clean end-of-meal flavors. Learn which dessert and seafood flavor combinations compliment and contrast each other in surprisingly pleasant ways so that whether you’re ordering off a menu or building one of your own, you’ll choose dishes that are sure to excite the taste buds and satisfy the pallet in a compatible, harmonious way.
Clams, Mussels and Oysters
Lemon and fish are a classic flavor matchup, often appearing side-by-side on seafood dinner plates. The tart, acidic taste of lemon brightens and enhances the flavor of mild, delicate fishes, while cutting the sharp, briny taste of stronger seafood flavors such as fried oysters, mussels marinara or clams on the half shell. Lemon sorbet makes for a pleasant, light and refreshing dessert following strong or heavy shellfish dishes. The lemon flavor and cold, light, delicate texture of sorbet compliments the taste of pungent shellfish dishes while also cleansing the pallet of any lingering clam, mussel or oyster tastes. For these reasons, lemon sorbet also makes for a pleasant dessert choice following other pungent, raw seafood dishes such as sushi or sashimi entrees.
Common seafood filet dishes include both pungent and mild fishes. For stronger fish filets such as cod, salmon and tuna, lemon desserts such as sorbet, key lime pie and lemon meringue pie compliment the fish flavors while cleansing the pallet. These desserts are also light enough to follow heavy entrees such as fried cod or tuna steak. The lighter, sweeter citrus notes of fruit cocktail, lime gelatin and grapefruit sorbet compliment mild fish filets such as flounder and mahi mahi.
Shrimp, Crabs and Scallops
Unlike other shellfish, shrimp, crab and scallop meat is rich and juicy with an unmistakably sweet taste. Sweet and salty flavor profiles such as chocolate and sea-salt pairings are gaining in popularity in the culinary world, because salty foods naturally complement and enhance sweet flavors. Since shrimp, crab and scallop meat lack the saltiness of other shellfish flavor profiles, pairing these sweet seafood meats with a salty end-of-meal dish makes for a compatible entrée-dessert matchup. Finish off a meal that features shrimp, crab or scallop meat with brownies or chocolate cookies sprinkled with sea salt; chocolate cupcakes iced with salted caramel; warm, salted kettle corn; salty, chocolate-covered pretzels, or a decadent, dark chocolate-dipped and salt-dusted crostini.
Semi-sweet, rich and moist lobster meat is a seafood favorite in America, appearing on fine dining menus throughout the country. Once considered food for the poor, this beloved seafood meal now stars in a variety of upscale, elegant dishes. Sweet, smooth-but-light desserts, such as fruit gelatin or sherbet, pair well with rich lobster pot pies and pasta dishes, while decadent desserts, such as fruit tarts and Pavlovas topped with whipped cream, compliment lighter lobster dishes such as broiled lobster tail.
References and ResourcesRazzle Dazzle Recipes: Cooking for a Crowd: Polish Your Pallet
“Salty Sweets: Delectable Desserts and Tempting Treats with a Sublime Kiss of Salt”; Christie Matheson; Harvard Common Press; 2009
Lobster Help: Lobster History
OChef: Dessert to Accompany Lobster