Move over turkey and ham. Those old, traditional inland staples of the Christmas Day celebration meal are under threat from the coastlines around New Zealand.

Increasingly, we want seafood as the centrepiece of our special family meals.

Seafood outlets say Christmas Eve is their busiest day of the year as families buy fish and shellfish at the last moment to get it as fresh as possible. And they say the trend is picking up pace.

Crayfish suddenly get super popular towards the end of December.

Crayfish suddenly get super popular towards the end of December.

Auckland Fish Market auctions manager Peter Wheeler says the fish market will be as crazily busy as any shop on Christmas Eve as people rush to get a treat.

He believes eating seafood at Christmas is bigger than many people realise and the trend is accelerating.

Turkey is the traditional Christmas dinner - but some people question why we follow a borrowed tradition.

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Turkey is the traditional Christmas dinner – but some people question why we follow a borrowed tradition.

“That’s a good thing because people are turning to a Kiwi treat to celebrate rather than American ideas of turkey,” he says.

Wheeler says demand for salmon in particular has exploded at Christmas, for raw and smoked products.

Crayfish and scampi are also popular in Auckland. His own Christmas meal will star smoked salmon. “I’ve ordered 5kg for 22 people. It’s one of the most magnificent foods you can imagine”.

Who would choose turkey over beautiful New Zealand salmon like this?

Who would choose turkey over beautiful New Zealand salmon like this?

Nelson-based seafood company Solander says it’s online orders from households double in the Christmas period.

Owner Aaron McCorkindale buyers are treating themselves to delicacies they associate with a New Zealand summer such as crayfish, scallops, oysters and prawns.

Foodstuffs, which has the Pak ‘n Save, Four Square and New World brands, estimates an amazing 14 per cent of households will include salmon as a protein choice on Christmas Day.

Head of External Relations Antoinette Laird says Christmas sees “steady and strong sales of prawns, salmon, oysters and fish in general”.

George Kosmadakis of John’s Fish Market in Wellington says Christmas is his busiest time, and it’s when people suddenly start buying special treat seafood like crayfish.

Kosmadakis says during the year the shop would usually get asked for crayfish about once every two or three weeks.

“On Christmas Eve I would say every second customer wants crayfish. Everyone seems to want it. We get a 100, maybe 120 kilos, for the day and it all disappears.”

He believes Kiwis are turning to seafood and it’s something to welcome.

“I mean why are we eating turkey and stuff when we are Kiwis? We are a fish country. We are surrounded by ocean and yet our Christmas dinner is the same as Europeans?”

Other popular items are prawns and half-shell oysters. Many buyers are looking for something like oysters in the shell that looks decorative and exciting on the table.

How big is Christmas Eve to the shop? “What we would normally make in a whole week we will make in one day,” Kosmadakis says.

“That actually explains it by itself. Sales of everything are up.

 

-Source