Traditionally, Thanksgiving means eating foods like turkey or ham, but for the world’s luckiest fishing village it can mean a variety of local seafood.
After speaking to several local seafood markets, The Log found that red snapper, grouper, oysters and shrimp are among the most popular seafood items during the holiday season.
“We have a lot of customers come in and they’re like ‘Hey, we’re sick of turkey, we’re not doing turkey, we’re doing shrimp and fish,” said John Martin, general manager of Sexton’s Seafood Market.
Martin said red snapper is the kind of fish that not only tastes good, it looks good too.
“Some of the old timers, they love the red snapper,” he said. “They’ll do a whole red snapper. I’ve seen people get some that aren’t totally huge but something mainly for presentation.”
As for the oysters, those can be broiled, grilled, steamed or used for oyster dressing.
“A lot of people hear oyster dressing and are kind’ve grossed out by it, but it’s just a thing around here that some people are raised on,” Martin said. “I’ve seen it made different ways, like a cornbread dressing. It’s kind’ve dry but the liquor, that’s the natural juice inside the shell, gives it a special flavor.”
Over at Destin Ice Seafood Market & Deli, James Duff said their pre-made oyster dressing is a big seller this time of year. Made out of oysters, breadcrumbs, onions, celery and seasoning, Duff said it’s a huge crowd pleaser for those who don’t want to make their own.
Another top seller?
“It’s a turkey, stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken with dressing,” Duff said. “I’ve got the regular turduckens and turducken breast. We’ve already sold quite a few.”
Duff said they also have a lot of people asking for shrimp.
“I sell a lot of shrimp because people are tired of Thanksgiving food, so they drive down here and get some shrimp,” he said.
Cocktail shrimp is one of the most popular kinds, due to it being a quick and tasty appetizer.
“Sometimes barbecued shrimp too, I see a lot of that,” Martin said. “And it’s definitely gumbo season, especially with the cooler weather so we’re selling a lot.”
Grouper is also a popular choice. The large, white-flaked flesh of the fish is low in fat and extremely versatile.
"There's a lot of people asking for it," Martin said. "We don't normally run out of it, but we did one day recently. It's delicious."
One thing is for sure, with the cold weather snap, there won't be a shortage of fresh seafood available for customers for purchase for their holiday feasts.
"We were a little concerned after the hurricane, but with this cold weather, we're doing just fine now," Martin said.