For Ricky Moore, seafood always has a place on the table. The 2022 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef Southeast argues that fish fries, shrimp boils, and the like are a quintessential backdrop for community get-togethers. His approach extends to tailgating recipes. “People want variety,” he says, describing a tailgate where people can set up their fryers or grills and cook up a batch of breaded and butterflied fish filets just as easily as burgers and dogs.
Two of his go-to recipes at Saltbox Seafood Joint in Durham, North Carolina, include green pimento and crab dip and his crispy fish dogs (a pescatarian take on the traditional corn dog). The first—a creamy, decadent marriage of Southern classic pimento cheese with Eastern crab dip—is topped with brown-butter cornbread crumbs and served bubbling and warm. It brings diversity to dips like spinach-artichoke and sausage traditionally seen on game day. His fish dogs, on the other hand, are more substantive. The idea came from his son Greyson, who suggested breading and frying cod and serving it in toasted hot dog buns. Though entirely different, the recipes share one common denominator.
“Mayonnaise is the anchor to so many seafood preparations,” Moore explains. “It adds fat, richness, and decadence. It is THE Mother Sauce of seafood.” He reaches for Duke’s Mayonnaise, blending it with Boursin cheese in his green pimento and crab dip (making it extra creamy) and mixing it into chunky comeback sauce to serve alongside his crispy fish dog.