Easter is a holiday with deep religious roots. It's a holiday with many important familial traditions, bringing families together in the name of hope, love, and gratitude. In many families, all of these aspects are celebrated in the same way, over a joyous table of good food. That's why one of the most popular family traditions is the Easter brunch. For those of you celebrating this year's holiday with seafood, here are some items you should seek out at the market and restaurant.
Soft shell crabs are beginning to pop up now, coming straight out of Florida. I understand that some Marylanders will balk at the idea of eating softies from anywhere but their home state, yet I also realize that others crave these harbingers of spring so eagerly that they can't wait until the local stuff gets here in May, and they need their fix today!
West coast halibut and sable seasons just started and we should be seeing fish in by the weekend holiday. King salmon season really doesn't get revved up until May, but we do have beautiful, sustainable, New Zealand farm raised Ora King salmon in house. These fish are sushi grade flavor pleasures and can be utilized in numerous dishes.
Crab season is underway domestically and, although it's early, we will have beautiful lumps of domestic crab for all your benedicts. Crabmeat is a terrific accompaniment to any brunch special and dining on crab this time of year really gets you excited for the pleasant weather and spring to come.
Gulf and fresh shrimp will also be on the menu this weekend. Look for shrimp po'boys and shrimp and grits as go-tos for all members of the family. Don't get too caught up in the size of your shrimp because, if you see rock shrimp on the menu, it's a must have. Rock shrimp are tiny, bitesize shrimp that are as sweet as lobster and give the mouth a pleasurable snap when bitten into.
Yellowtail and red snappers are sweet tasting whitefish with crispy skin and should be considered on any Easter menu. The small yellowtails are especially delicious. Striped bass, also known as rockfish, will be all around this weekend. Prices will be at a low, so I advise picking up some local bass. I expect these prices to climb dramatically over the next coming weeks, with fish disappearing at the end of April due to seasonal closures.
Other delicacies include Mahi Mahi from South America, Rhode Island fluke and black bass, and Massachusetts golden tilefish. For those with adventurous hearts, I recommend trying invasive species such as snakehead and blue catfish, or even some spring run bluefish and mackerel. Whatever your holiday tradition may be, however your family normally celebrates, I am certain food will be involved in some capacity. I recommend choosing food that's not only good for you and your family, but also good for the environment. Eating better food is a promise for better days to come, it's a way of spreading the hope of a healthier world.