December 06, 2022 4 min read

It's no secret we're all about a table adorned with beautiful table linen and drinkware when Christmas rolls around. And with the festive season now well and truly upon us, thoughts are turning to the food that will be piled high on plates as we all gather around the table on Christmas Day.

Australians love their seafood come Christmas time, but that doesn’t mean we all feel confident serving it. So we spoke to an expert to extract some fail-safe tips on how to prepare and serve an exquisite seafood spread.

Max Adey is a chef, recipe developer and creator of the Made By Max range of gourmet dressings and premium marinated olives and cornichons. He's also a huge seafood fan, especially at Christmas, and he has generously shared some expert advice on how to serve a sensational festive seafood feast with ease.

ISH: What is it about seafood that you think makes it such a popular choice for the festive season? 

MA: The warm summer weather really makes seafood the perfect protein for entertaining during the festive season. Seafood is very light and refreshing. You can easily heat up your barbecue and throw it all on. Fast cooking, less washing up and you’re outside enjoying the weather with a drink in hand. 

If someone wants to serve seafood this Christmas but they’re not experienced in buying or preparing it, what would you suggest as a good ‘entry level’ choice?

Cooked prawns are always a go-to for me. When you buy them pre-cooked, all you need to do is peel them and you can get the kids to help with this too. Serve them with a great sauce and it’s the perfect start to your Christmas lunch or dinner. Just make sure you buy them fresh. Tiger prawns are my favourite as they have a beautiful sweetness. If salty is more of your thing, go for king prawns, which taste like the sea.

A whole side of salmon or trout is also super easy. It only takes 15 minutes in the oven and it looks so impressive. Serve with a fresh salsa verde, roast potatoes and a fresh salad and you’re done!

Scallops in the shell are another great option to serve during the festive season. Make a simple flavoured butter (herbs, garlic and lemon is my go to, or miso, sesame and lime is also amazing). Dot the flavoured butter over the scallops. Grill them on the barbecue, shell side down, for a couple of minutes until the scallops turn opaque. Easy as that! 

Scallops in the shell are also a super easy and impressive seafood to serve during the festive season.

What are the main things to look for when choosing / buying seafood?

Fresh is always best. You can smell the difference. Buying on the day or the day before is critical. Always choose Australian produce as you know this is fresh and hasn’t been frozen and shipped here. 

Do you have any favourite seafood sauces you can share with us?

I serve this cocktail sauce every year with prawns and it’s always a winner and so much better than the store-bought ones. 

Max’s Cocktail Sauce

  • ½ cup good quality mayonnaise 
  • ½ cup crème fraiche or sour cream
  • 2 tbs tomato ketchup 
  • 2 tbs finely chopped tarragon (or dill)
  • 2 tbs finely chopped chives
  • 1 tbs brandy 
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 tsp tabasco sauce
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Whisk everything together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper.  Store in the fridge until ready to serve. It lasts up to a week in the fridge. 

If you’re serving salmon, this salsa verde recipe is amazing.

Max’s Salsa Verde

  • 2 anchovies
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbs capers
  • 1 cup mixed herbs (parsley, mint and / or basil)
  • 2 tbs chopped chives
  • 2 tbs chopped tarragon or dill
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar 
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon 

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. This lasts up to two weeks in the fridge.  

Max’s Salsa Verde

Will you be serving seafood this Christmas and if so what will be on your table?

I always serve seafood at Christmas… and over all the days before and after!  

On Christmas Eve, I’ll be making a grilled seafood and potato salad with my Made by Max Anchovy, Mustard and Tarragon Dressing for a light dinner for my partner’s family.

On Christmas Day, my Dad will be smoking rainbow trout with lemon and thyme, and we will have lots of sashimi as my Dad’s wife is Japanese. Thankfully I have Christmas Day off from cooking…I just bring the dessert! 

On Boxing Day (our big family Christmas), we have a huge seafood extravaganza– dozens of oysters with mignonette dressing, prawns with cocktail sauce and kingfish crudo with yuzu kocho. 

Do you have a favourite item from the Ink Spiller Home collection?

Oh, that’s hard - so many things! I love the stemless copper glasses that keep your drinks super chilled, and I’m loving the Terrazzo Blush tablecloth! Will be adding to cart very soon!

I’m loving the Terrazzo Blush tablecloth!

About Max Adey

Max also develops and writes recipes for Australia’s leading food publications and food brands, including Gourmet Traveller, Donna Hay and The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Max grew up on his family’s famed salad and herb farm, Darling Mills, just outside of Sydney. Born into a restaurateur family, from a young age Max began helping his father and aunts sell fresh produce and the Darling Mills range of marinated olives, dips and salad dressings on Saturday mornings at the Sydney Morning Herald Pyrmont Growers’ Market and at Northside Produce Market.  After many years at the markets, Max’s aunts approached him to take over their side of the market business. He jumped at the opportunity to work in food, and never looked back, going on to train as a chef and working at est, Claude’s and Moon Park.

Max also develops and writes recipes for Australia’s leading food publications and food brands, including Gourmet Traveller, Donna Hay and The Australian Women’s Weekly.

He splits his time between running his business, writing recipes for food media and brands, as well cooking and styling food for photography. 

You can learn more about Max’s product range here or follow him on Instagram.