Top ingredients to use in your New Orleans seafood dish

February 26, 2023 at 4:00 PM
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New Orleans is one of the top culinary destinations in the United States. A quick survey of some New Orleans favorites would reveal seafood as the usual staple, which is not at all surprising. Located where the Mississippi River flows into the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans is an abundant source of both saltwater and freshwater fish and shellfish.

The transformation of seafood from source to plate is an amazing delight to the senses with dishes of rich colors and appetizing aromas. New Orleans seafood is famous for its bold and flavorful taste, often influenced by the city's French, African, and Creole cuisines.

But what gives these cuisines their characteristic deep and complex flavor profiles?

Here are some of the top ingredients and spices that pair well with New Orleans’ most iconic seafood dishes.

Holy Trinity

"Holy Trinity” refers to a triad of ingredients that form the base of several dishes in a particular cuisine, giving it its signature characteristics. In Creole and Cajun cooking, the holy trinity are onions, bell pepper, and celery.

These ingredients are kitchen staples, relatively cheap, and easily available, some people may underestimate the culinary treasures they really are! On their own, the holy trinity already gives texture, color, and aroma to soups, sauces, one-pot dishes, and more. Combined with the other key ingredients, such as basil, parsley, and Tabasco sauce, they elevate the savory taste of fresh seafood and meats.

Filé (fee-lay) Powder

This powder is derived from the leaves of the Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) plant. The plant grows in North America and Asia. Although the whole plant is considered fragrant, the powder preparation of the leaves is what is commonly used in New Orleans dishes such as Gumbo. It is considered both a flavoring agent and a thickener.

Cayenne Powder

This spice is obtained by removing the seeds from Cayenne peppers, drying them out completely, and then pulverizing them. It is added to the dish, sometimes combined with black pepper and paprika to render flavor and add heat, which is also a trademark of most New Orleans dishes.

Garlic and Scallions

Garlic is a staple ingredient in many New Orleans seafood dishes, including shrimp scampi, gumbo, and jambalaya. It adds a pungent and savory flavor that complements the richness of the seafood.

Scallions, also known as green onions, are a common ingredient in New Orleans cuisine. They add a fresh and slightly sweet flavor to seafood dishes like seafood boils and crawfish étouffée.

Thyme and Bay Leaf

Thyme is commonly used in New Orleans cuisine, adding a subtle earthy flavor to seafood dishes like seafood chowder or shrimp and sausage jambalaya.

On the other hand, Bay leaves add a slightly sweet and floral flavor to dishes like seafood boils or seafood gumbo.

Where can I get high-quality seafood in New Orleans?

Right here at Tommy’s Seafood Inc! Since 1982, we have been committed to supplying retailers and restaurants across the region with wildly caught, sustainable shellfish and bivalves. Our specialties include wild shrimps, blue crabs, gulf oysters, and crawfish.

We supply seafood products according to our client’s specifications; whether live, raw, frozen, whole, or processed (cleaned, pre-cooked, deveined shrimps, and shucked oysters). What’s more, we bring them to you with freshness and nutrients locked in using our proprietary freezing method that is superior to traditional freezers.

Finally, as we source our products from the Gulf Coast and the surrounding waters of Lake Pontchartrain, we proudly support the domestic market and uphold the local heritage that New Orleans has become known for. “Fresh from the docks to the plate” is the Southern way, and at Tommy’s, we won’t have it any other way too!

Request a quote

Give us a call today at (504) 271-9735 or reach us through our contact form to request a quote on fresh, quality seafood products. You can also email us at and we’ll be sure to get back to you shortly.