Adding Michigan seafood to your holiday table

Looking to add pizzazz to your holiday table this year? Elliot Nelson, a Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator in the Upper Peninsula, has some ideas for you!

He recently brought some local Michigan seafood goodies to the TV6 studio in Marquette to share with the morning news hosts. Click here to watch his interview!

As Elliot says, Michigan seafood is a great addition to the dining room table, especially as a festive treat around the holidays.

Some folks might be intimidated by the idea of cooking fish from scratch. Thankfully, Michigan is home to many local fish products that are easy to serve as appetizers and entrees, with little preparation required.

Sliced fish sausage and flaky smoked lake trout or whitefish are a perfect addition to any charcuterie board. These savory treats pack a heart-healthy protein punch and are a good way to win over guests who may be hesitant about trying seafood.

Whitefish dip is a favorite around the state, and for good reason. Elliot recommends smearing some on a cracker or flatbread and adding a dollop of fig jam for a sweet pop of flavor. You can buy prepared whitefish dip from a local market or whip up a batch of your own.

For those who’d like to cook their own fish for holiday guests, Freshwater Feasts is full of fantastic recipes that range from easy baked salmon to an elegant bass or trout fillet poached in wine.

Finding local Great Lakes fish might seem challenging at times, because most seafood sold in Michigan is imported from elsewhere in the country or overseas. That’s why several Sea Grant programs came together to create the Great Lakes Fresh Fish Finder website. It’s a perfect resource for highlighting where you can buy locally caught and farmed fish across the region.

Fresh Fish Finder was born during the COVID-19 pandemic. With restaurant and wholesale markets suddenly drying up, many commercial fishing operations and fish markets had to shift their customer base. They needed a resource for connecting their fantastic products with local consumers in their communities. Today, the Fresh Fish Finder database is full of commercial fishers and aquaculture producers who sell their products directly to consumers. That goes beyond fish for the dining table, too — Fresh Fish Finder can connect folks to local sources of fish for bait, stocking, ornamental uses, and more.

As Elliot says, the nice thing about Great Lakes fish is that you can get it almost year-round. Commercial harvests pause when there’s ice on the water. But aquaculture farms around the state can produce throughout the winter, and many commercial fishing operators stockpile goodies in their freezers for cold-weather sales.

Don’t let the idea of frozen fish turn you away — modern processes for freezing fish allow the meat to maintain its high quality for a long period of time. So stock up your freezer with Michigan fish fillets for a winter of delicious, heart-healthy meals.

Get ready to wow your guests with a Michigan seafood dish today!


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