Recipes for the Holidays — Seafood Appitizers and Main Course Dishes

Ken Jones

Staff member
Posted by Ken Jones

There are three appetizer dishes that have become a tradition at our house every holiday season. Two are made by me and one by my wife Pat. Ken's dishes — (1) Crab and Pork Meatballs and (2) Deep Fried Wontons filled with Pork and Shrimp. Both are accompanied by sweet and sour sauce. I usually will fix up both a week or so before Thanksgiving and/or Christmas and then freeze them. I simply thaw and cook them the day of the holiday. Pat's dish — (3) Crab Dip. It's a simple and delicious dish that she normally makes up the day before the holiday. Given its popularity, it rarely survives the holiday. The only problem with the accumulated dishes is that they are so good that people are often stuffed before the turkey and stuffing hits the table.

(1) Crab and Pork Meat Balls


• 12 Dried Chinese mushrooms (or small can chopped mushrooms)
• 1 Pound lean ground pork
• 1 Cup (8 ounces) water chestnuts, minced
• ½ Cup (8-ounce can) crab meat
• 1 Teaspoon salt
• 2 Teaspoons sugar
• 1/8 Teaspoon black pepper
• 2 Tablespoons minced onion
• 2 Cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• ¼ Cup mushroom water
• 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
• Cornstarch
• 2 eggs
• 1 Tablespoon water
• 3 Cups oil

Experiment with the mushrooms. I like the recipe with the mushrooms, my wife doesn't. If you do not use mushrooms you will need to use a 1/4 cup of flavored water; I usually just use a little water with chicken stock in it.


• Cover dried mushrooms with boiling water and soak 20 minutes—or simply use a small can of chopped mushrooms.
• Measure pork into a large mixing bowl. Add drained, rinsed and minced water chestnuts. Add drained and shredded crab meat. Drain mushrooms, reserving water; mince mushrooms and add to pork. Toss ingredients with salt, sugar, pepper, onion, garlic, ¼ cup mushroom water, and soy sauce.
• Roll into walnut-sized meat balls between your palms. Half fill a small bowl with cornstarch, and roll each ball around in the bowl until well coated. Freeze a portion for another time (if so desired), and refrigerate balance until serving time. If freezing, I set them on wax-papered trays in the freezer and once frozen I place them in Zip-lock bags.
• Place thawed or fresh meat balls by the stove, with the eggs mixed with the water.
• Set wok over high heat 30 seconds, add oil, heat to 350 degrees or until a bit of bread sizzles when dropped into it.
• Dip balls in egg and water mixture, and fry 8 to 10 at a time, about 3 minutes. Serve hot with Sweet-and-Sour Sauce.

Recipe from Oriental Cooking The Fast Wok Way by Jacqueline Hériteau (1971)

Sweet and Sour Sauce


Main ingredients:
• 1 Cup water
• ¼ Teaspoon salt
• ¾ Cup sugar
• ½ Cup apple cider vinegar
• 2 ½ Tablespoons catsup
• ½ Teaspoon thin soy sauce
• ½ Cup pineapple juice

Thickening ingredients:
• 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
• 4 Tablespoons cold water

This sweet and sour recipe comes from “Chopsticks, Cleaver and Wok” by Jennie Low (1980). Jennie was the teacher of a Chinese cooking class I took when I lived in the Bay Area. She now owns (last time I checked) Chinese restaurants in Novato and Petaluma.

(2) Deep-Fried Wontons Filled With Pork and Shrimp


• Won ton wrappers (available at most markets, usually 40 in a packet)
• 1 Pound raw shrimp in their shells
• 2 Tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
• ½ pound ground pork
• 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or pale dry sherry
• 1 Teaspoon salt
• 6 Peeled and washed fresh water chestnuts, or drained canned water chestnuts, finely chopped
• 1 Scallion, including the green top, finely chopped (or two green onions)
• 1 Teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in one tablespoon cold chicken stock, fresh or canned, or cold water


• Shell the shrimp. With a small, sharp knife, make an incision down the backs and lift out the intestinal vein with the point of the knife. Chop the shrimp fine. (You can also find frozen shrimp that is minus the shells and also cleaned; the taste is pretty much the same).
• To prepare the filling: Set a 12-inch wok or 10-inch skillet over high heat for 30 seconds. Pour in the 2 tablespoons of oil, swirl it around in the pan and heat for another 30 seconds, turning the heat down if the oil begins to smoke. Add the pork and stir-fry for 1 minute, or until the meat loses its reddish color.
• Add the shrimp, soy sauce, wine, salt, water chestnuts and scallion, and stir-fry for another minute until the shrimp turns pink.
• Give the cornstarch mixture a stir to recombine it and pour it into the pan. Stir constantly until the liquid thickens, then transfer the contents of the pan to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
• Once the pork-shrimp mixture is cool, add to the wonton wrappers. Place about 1½ teaspoons of the filling into the center of each wrapper. With a finger dipped in water, moisten the edges of the wrapper. Then bring one corner up over the filling to the opposite corner, but fold the wrapper at an angle so that two overlapping triangles are formed, with their points side by side and about ½ inch apart. Pull the two bottom corners of the folded triangle forward and below the folded edge so that they meet one another and slightly overlap, to create a kind of frame around the mound of filling. Moisten one end with a finger dipped in water and pinch the two ends firmly together. (This sounds laborous and to some extent it is. However, once you learn to fold the wonton wrappers it goes fairly quickly.)
• As each wonton is finished, place it on a plate and cover with a dry towel or wax paper. If the wontons must wait more than 30 minutes before cooking, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate. I prepare the entire mix ahead of time and freeze them in the freezer on wax-papered trays. Once frozen, I put them into Zip-lock bags and take out whichever bags I want to cook when it is time.
• To cook set a 12-inch wok or 10-inch skillet over high heat and pour 3 cups of oil into it. Heat the oil until a haze forms above it or it is at 375 degrees. Deep-fry the wontons, 8-10 at a time, for 2 minutes, or until they are crisp and golden.
• Transfer them to paper towels while you fry the rest. Serve on a heated platter. They can be kept warm in a 250-degree oven for a half hour or so.
• Serve with sweet and sour sauce.

* The recipe comes from “Recipes: The Cooking of China” part of the Time Life Foods of the World (1968)

I use the same sweet and sour sauce listed above.

(3) Easy Crab Dip — 10 minute prep time


• 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
• 1/3 cup mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
• 16 ounces crab meat drained (Pat usually just uses quality canned crab meat from the market)


• In a medium bowl, use a mixer to blend together cream cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, onion, garlic powder, and seasoned salt.
• Fold in parsley and crab meat.
• Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
• Serve with a variety of crackers but "Wheat Thins" are our favorite.
Last edited:

Ken Jones

Staff member
Posted by Ken Jones

When we were doing our favorite recipes on PFIC we had many posts by fatzmalone. They were obviously from a chef who enjoyed to cook and were good recipes (although perhaps a little complex for some). However, there was criticism that they were not given attribution of some type. The same criticism applies but this seemed like it should be included.

Posted by fatzmalone on November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving: Stuffed Rockfish

Corn, raisins and walnuts that have been soaked in white wine and rum impart a sweetness to this Pacific fish. The whole fish is steamed on the grill.


• 12 ounces dry stuffing mix
• 1 cup loose-pack frozen corn kernels
• 1/2 cup golden raisins
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 1/2 cup white wine (Only cook with wine that you would drink)
• 2 tablespoons rum (save some for yourself as well)
• 2 pounds whole rockfish cleaned and gutted
• 2 onions, peeled and sliced
• 2 oranges, sliced


• Combine stuffing mix, corn, raisins, walnuts, wine and rum in a bowl; mix well. Let stand for 1 hour.
• Rinse fish and pat dry; place on a large sheet of aluminum foil.
• Spoon stuffing into cavity of fish.
• Layer half the onion and orange over stuffing; close fish and secure with skewers.
• Arrange remaining onion and orange over fish. Seal aluminum foil and make a slit to vent.
• Heat grill. Cook fish over hot coals for 40 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve hot.
Makes 8 servings. MAY YOU ALL HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY! Fatzmalone.

Ken Jones

Staff member
Posted by Ken Jones

This is a very rich soup that could go into the soup, chowder or crab recipe sections but could also be part of a rich "Holiday Seafood Dinner" if one so wished — and I may do it. Given its name, and the fact that it is supposedly based on an old traditional Maryland recipe, it seems very fitting for a holiday.

Mrs. George Washington's Cream of Crab Soup.


• 2 hard-cooked eggs
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• Zest of a lemon, minced
• 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
• 1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
• 2 cups milk
• 1/2 cup medium dry sherry
• 8 ounces crab meat flaked into bite-size pieces
• salt
• Generous pinch of cayenne pepper


Puree the hard-cooked egg in a food processor or mash until smooth with a wooden spoon.
• Mix in the butter, flour, and lemon zest. Scrape into a large mixing bowl.
• Combine the half-and-half, cream, and milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
• Bring almost to a boil, stirring so as not to scorch them.
• Slowly pour the cream mixture into the pureed egg mixture, whisking until thoroughly incorporated.
• Pour it back into a saucepan and place over medium-heat.
• Cook, stirring constantly, until the soup is very hot. Do not let it boil.
• Whisk in the sherry, cook for 1 minute.
• Remove from the heat and stir in the crab meat.
• Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
• Serve immediately.

Recipe from one of my favorite fish cookbooks — The Great American Seafood Cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis