Recipes by Joyce Taylor

Holiday parties are special times, spent with special people. Add the festive spirit to these seafood appetizers with a few eye-catching changes in the presentation. It will leave guests looking forward to next year’s occasion.

Naturally wrapped in their shells, oysters casino and broiled garlic clams are certain to disappear quickly, so prepare extra. And consider recycling the shells (see below). Creamy crab dip served on endive leaves and topped with finely diced red peppers make pretty little edible packages. Prepare the crab dip the day before to save time and to allow the flavors to develop.

As always, fresh seafood from North Carolina’s coastal waters is recommended.

Surprise the cook in your family with a copy of the Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas resource book by Joyce Taylor, available at UNC Press and many bookstores. Or to order a copy from North Carolina Sea Grant, call 919/515-9101, or email:

For more ideas and recipes, check the Mariner’s Menu blog at: Information on seasonal seafood can be found by visiting:

Celebrate the holidays with seafood. Here are some Mariner’s Menu recipes to get you started.


Oysters Casino

Photo by Vanda Lewis

Before shucking, scrub oysters thoroughly with a stiff brush under cold, running water.

Open oysters. Leave oysters in deep lower shells. Discard top shells.

Cut each bacon slice into 4 parts. Cook over medium heat until almost done. Drain on paper towels. In small bowl, blend together margarine, green onion, red pepper, parsley, crumbs, lemon juice, salt and black pepper.

Place a deep layer of rock salt in baking dish. Place the oysters in their shells on the rock salt, using it to level and stabilize the shells.

Spoon margarine mixture over the oysters and top each with bacon. Bake at 450 F until oysters are done and bacon is brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serves 4.

Broiled Garlic Clams

Photo by Vanda Lewis

Scrub clams thoroughly under cold, running water. Open and discard top shell. Place clams on the half shell in a thick bed of rock salt in a cooking pan. This will keep them level so that no broth is lost.

In a small bowl, mix oil, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan and garlic. Drizzle clams with mixture. Broil about 4 inches from heat until cheese melts and clams are done, about 6 to 8 minutes. Top with parsley and remaining cheese. Serves 6.

Creamy Crab Dip

creamy crab dip

Photo by Vanda Lewis

Remove any shell or cartilage from crabmeat. In medium bowl, blend cream and cream cheese together. Add lime juice, Worcestershire, garlic, Tabasco, parsley and white pepper. Mix thoroughly. Gently fold in crabmeat. Chill thoroughly. Place in serving bowl and sprinkle with paprika. Serve with assorted vegetables. Makes about 3 cups.


Don’t throw away those shells. The North Carolina Oyster Shell Recycling Program accepts all types of shells including oyster, clam and scallop. They are used to create new oyster reefs. Recycle at the sites listed on:

This article was published in the Holiday 2012 issue of Coastwatch.

For contact information and reprint requests, visit