Surf’s Up! Who among us (save for the allergy-prone) hasn’t enjoyed one tasty inhabitant of the watery depths or the other at some point in their life? Let’s take off our flip-flops, brush away the sand, and look over some of the delightful seafood snacksandwiches most easily thrown together at home or at the shore.
Tuna salad on white bread, sometimes toasted, often with lettuce and/or tomato (the former generally wilted, the latter generally rock-hard) has been available at every lunch counter, in every deli, in every prepared foods aisle across the United States for decades. Here in New York we are lucky to still have Eisenberg’s, which has not changed very much from the way it looked in the 1930s. Eisenberg’s is to the regular tuna salad sandwich as Trimalchio’s Feast is to a gluten-free vegan party platter.
Outside of major cities, whitefish salad isn’t always as easy to find as tuna salad. Like tuna salad, besides its primary ingredient it has, or can have, bits of celery; unlike tuna salad, it has, or can have, dill, chives, and lemon juice. Whitefish salad also goes far better with whole wheat, pumpernickel, or rye — but so does most every ingredient used in a sandwich. It goes without saying that in New York your best bet is Russ and Daughters.
Lox, nova, smoked salmon: each is good, each is different, each is liked more by some than by others. In the northeast, the bagel has long been the standard grain-based delivery system, notwithstanding the fact that until recently, each year the bagel template has become ever puffier, ever softer, ever-more filled with noisome ingredients such as blueberries and the like.
A fried fish fillet between two slices of bread is a standard item; what fish, and what bread, and what sauce(s) vary from state to state, and your options are always open. Some are more lightly fried than others. Some come with hot sauce. Some are huge. Some are made of cod, some of perch, some of walleye, some of flounder. Some are served with bones still present, so be careful.
In emergencies the wise person knows that if one is ever required to eat at McDonald’s (demanding children, restaurant deserts, sudden and overwhelming starvation while on the road, et.al.), the Filet-O-Fish remains your most edible option. Use a couple of napkins to remove the extra gallon of tartar sauce from each sandwich.
La Médiatrice, as the oyster po’boy has been known for many years in its home town of New Orleans since the first late-arriving husband brought one home to allay the anger of his long-suffering wife, can now be found most everywhere, inevitably only as good as its oysters and its breading. But when it’s good — it’s good. (We must again note here, as earlier, that a most delicious po’boy can be made by substituting lamb fries for oysters.)
Several types of lobster rolls out there: the Connecticut model generally features toasted, buttered bread, and warm, buttered lobster; Maine varieties are often on a larger bun, or roll; elsewhere, mayonnaise, celery and the like may be added to help cloak the taste of lobster; and in New York City a variety of approaches are taken, and the sole thing you can bet on is that whatever lobster roll you get, it’ll be expensive. There are other types of lobster rolls, best avoided.