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Where Y’Eat: Savoring Seafood Variety as the New Orleans Seasons Change

Ian McNulty
Boiled shrimp and fried fish in Louisiana

The end of Mardi Gras brings Lent, and in Louisiana that means it’s seafood season, and that cues up the well-nigh inevitable saw about what a penance it is to forgo meat to whatever extent and instead eat seafood in a place that produces so much of it, and also produces the people who know how to prepare it.

If there is a visual for such jokes, it’s probably a plate of fried fish drawn from the ritual of the Friday fish fry.

That’s why this year I decided to pull together a different kind of look at the seafood coming to us through restaurants. You’ll find it on I compiled 40 seafood dishes – yes, one for each day of Lent, and not one of them is fried.

This time of year I hear a lot of requests specifically for non-fried seafood, which I think comes from a hunger for new flavors as much as going a tad lighter after the excesses of Carnival (and before the impending excesses of festival season).

Finding different preparations apart from the familiar fried and true is easier and more rewarding now too, so drawing up these parameters feels timely.

Here’s just a quick taste - plump shrimp, with a honey glaze and the earthy spicy fire of Ethiopian cooking at Addis NOLA.

Crabmeat and shrimp in a tangle of squid ink noodles at Chapter IV, the new restaurant from the Dooky Chase’s restaurant family.

Shrimp aguachile, which is basically ceviche before it becomes ceviche, all raw and pulsing with chiles and citrus at La Tia Cantina in Metairie.

The world class sushi they’re rolling now at Yakuza House in Metairie or Sukeban up on Oak Street.

And so many old classics, like oysters Mosca’s, prepared family style, like everything at his destination Italian restaurant, under a crust of breadcrumbs, and Parmesan that crackles under the spoon.

Oh, I’m there for the next fish fry, believe me. But right now, if you’re looking to get more seafood in your life, this season is shaping up to be different and delicious.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.