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Where can you eat seafood like royalty on a budget

seafood

Buttery lobster rolls, fried calamari, fresh crab legs, octopus skewers, mussels in wine, clam shells in pasta. These are just a few of the most delicious seafood dishes on offer. Fresh and mouthwatering, seafood is a delicacy for sure, but it can be a little bit expensive in certain corners of the world. In other corners of the world, though, it’s a different story…

Looking to enjoy the best of what the ocean has to offer? Well we’ve got a list of countries that’ll take you all over the globe so you can enjoy seafood on a budget, and tick off some bucket-list destinations!

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Where is seafood cheap?

As a general rule, countries that have vast ocean coasts will have the best seafood, the most access to different species, and therefore the best prices. So any seaside country will have amazing budget selections. Some top areas are the Mediterranean, Southeast Asian coasts, Oceania, and countries surrounding the Arctic circle.

1. New England – Lobster rolls

Starting off with my personal favourite, the best place to get lobster rolls (and other lobster dishes) on a budget is hands down New England, particularly the northern coastal states like Maine and Massachusetts. Often regarded as one of the more expensive pieces of seafood, lobster is so common in the fishing grounds there that you can get it for much cheaper than you would anywhere else in the world; and it comes in so many heavenly forms.

The classic, especially in sweltering Boston summers, is the lobster roll. Two versions exist: the traditional which is hefty chunks of lobster slathered in beautiful melted butter, stuffed into a toasted hotdog roll; or the lobster salad which is equally hefty chunks of lobster tossed in a mayonnaise based sauce, also stuffed into a toasted hotdog roll. The first is served warm and the other cold, so it’s up to which one you go for but both are amazing.

lobster roll, Boston

Image source:Charlie Fabre

2. South Africa – Fish breyani

If you’ve never had a Cape Malay style curry now is the time to tick that off your culinary bucket-list. Head over to South Africa and get your hands on this fish breyani, filled with chunks of freshly caught and local fish! It’ll give these other seafood on a budget options a run for their money.

A breyani is similar to a curry from India, but here it has gotten its own South African twist. The meal is made up of rice, vegetables-like peas, potatoes, and lentils, hard boiled eggs, and of course flavourful fish all tossed in a mixture of spices to give it that signature curry kick!

3. Greece – Grilled octopus

Hard to believe that a dish as simple as this can be so succulent, but it really, truly is. If you’ve never had octopus before, don’t be afraid, it’s chewy and yummy and a favourite of the Mediterranean regions for a reason! You’ve just got to trust that the locals know best.

Grilled octopus is simple: tentacles tossed in fresh herbs and seasoning, grilled until cooked with a slight charr, and then drizzled over with fatty olive oil and lemon juice. This is the staple dish, but you can find variations of grilled octopus all over Greece. One amazing variation sees octopus served with a tomato based sauce with a glug of balsamic vinegar. 

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4. Italy – Fried seafood

Known as ‘pesce fritto al cono’ in Italy, these cones of fried seafood are a common street food treat all along the Italian coastal cities. These are found all over the country and feature lots of delicious crispy treats: calamari, octopus, shrimp, fish, etc. 

The menu may vary depending on the catch of the day seeing as the seafood used to fill these cones is fished fresh in the morning and dumped straight from the boats into drums of batter and oil (not literally, of course). These cones are only a few euros, making them the perfect seafood on a budget snack to grab. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top and be on your merry way!

5. Australia – Barramundi

Being one of the beachiest nations of the world, Australia of course has a stellar reputation when it comes to seafood. The country has an abundance of fishy dishes to satisfy all your budget-friendly seafood needs, but the real star of the show is the Barramundi.

It’s the ‘it’ fish of Australia and part of the appeal is that it just goes perfect with everything and is so versatile – like many other white-fleshed fish. It’s healthy and hearty and the favoured way to cook it is, of course, on the barbie! Give barramundi fillets a nice char and then serve with lemon juice, dill butter, and a side of stir-fried veg for a special summer meal.

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6. Spain – Paella

How could the iconic and universally beloved paella not make an appearance on this list? Mussels, shrimp, clams, chorizo, and chicken, paella is any food-lover’s dream as it’s a mix of surf and turf complimented by rice and the rich taste of saffron. My mouth’s watering just thinking about it.

Thankfully, paella is from Spain and they know how to prepare it best while keeping the prices relatively low so you can enjoy this seafood feast and grab some churros and Spanish flan as dessert with your extra cash. 

7. Mexico – Seafood tacos

Another one of my personal favourites, seafood tacos are the perfect beach-side snack to fuel your lazy days on the Mexican shores. Why do I love Mexican street food so much? Because it’s so versatile! Seafood tacos can be filled with whatever you fancy: fried fish, crispy shrimp, grilled salmon, and the usual toppings only make it better. 

8. Portugal – Salted cod

Cod-based dishes are a Portuguese staple, so if you’re looking for seafood on a budget, this is kind of the jackpot. It’s said that there are over 1000 recipes in which salted cod is the star ingredient – crazy! Known as ‘bacalhau’, the fish can be baked, fried, grilled, braised, etc. so there’s bound to be something to your liking.

If you’ve ever wondered how Mediterranean regions maintain such healthy diets while dousing their food in olive oil, well, this is how: the main components of the dishes are kept simple and cooked in simple ways as well. Light and fresh seasoning accompanies it, and voila, you have a beautiful healthy dish.

9. South Korea – Oyster pancakes

Regarded as a delicacy, oysters can kind of be intimidating. I mean, it’s a raw mollusc, so the hesitance is understandable. If you’re on the fence about the traditional way of eating oysters, but still want to try them, South Korea is where you want to head.

Known as ‘gul jeon’, this is a local favourite and you can get them at both restaurants and street food vendors. It’s simple enough: fresh oysters coated in flour and egg then fried on a pan with scallions. Light, fluffy, and utterly delicious, it’s a cherished part of South Korean cuisine that you should indulge in!

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10. Croatia – Fresh oysters

If, on the other hand, you’re ready to brave oysters in their unfiltered form, or if you’re an avid fan already, then the best place to get them cheap, cheap, cheap is none other than beautiful Croatia!

It’s the perfect setting for it as well, just picture this: you’re lounging on the beach, the waves are crashing against the shore in soothing sounds, the sun is setting and sparkling over the waves. You’re with friends (probably Contiki friends) and you each reach for a delicious fresh oyster and gulp it down together. It’s amazing, it’s the best day ever.

11. Japan – Sushi and sashimi

Perhaps most synonymous with good food is Japan, particularly its most beloved dish: sushi. While sushi may be an expensive luxury food across the globe, it is so cheap in Japan and you can experience mouth-watering tasting menus and Omakase for next to nothing! 

Not only that, but the sushi and sashimi and hand rolls and all that goodness will be prepared by traditionally and authentically trained chefs, so you know the quality will be out of this world. If you’re interested in seafood, it’s also worth visiting Japan’s world-famous fish market in Tokyo. You may be able to snag some inexpensive bites there too, like the elusive snow crab.

Japanese sushi

Image source:Contiki

12. Mauritius – Sea snail

Sounds interesting, but if the French can eat snails and get away with it then so can Mauritius and so can you! If you ever find yourself in Mauritius on the lookout for some seafood on a budget make sure you get yourself some ‘kono kono’. 

Usually enjoyed as a salad with fresh veg, herbs, red onions, and a creamy sauce, the meat from this sea snail is chopped into thin slivers and blended right in! Don’t eat too much, though, because it’s rumoured to be a very powerful aphrodisiac…

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13. Louisiana – Crayfish

Being the southern coastal state that it is, Louisiana has a very rich and scrumptious seafood culture. Crab, langoustine, shrimp, and even alligator; but the real star of the show is crayfish. Used as a cheaper and smaller alternative to lobster, crayfish have that tender tail meat that goes well with everything, marking them as a great option for seafood on a budget.

The preferred, and very iconic, way to enjoy crayfish, is in a classic Louisiana gumbo. With French and Creole roots, Louisiana cuisine is out of this world, and you’d be a fool not to fill your belly with a hearty bowl of this warm and spicy soup. Crayfish is a classic gumbo ingredient, as well as andouille sausage and other rich flavours. You can’t go wrong here, and you can get your fill in New Orleans with Contiki.

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14. Scotland – Smoked salmon

The icy coasts of Scotland are home to the highest quality of salmon – it’s kind of something the country is known for aside from adorable highland cows and malt whiskey. Served on a side of scrambled eggs for breakfast, on avocado toast or under a blanket of hollandaise sauce, in salads, or simply folded into a cream cheese heavy bagel, smoked salmon is an easy and efficient bit of seafood! 

If you’re feeling just a tiny bit fancy then you can also enjoy an elevated version of smoked salmon called gravlax. Who knew Scotland was home to such a hidden feast!

15. Singapore – Chilli crab

No need to explain why the island nation of Singapore might be a haven for die-hard seafood lovers, and although Singapore is a slightly more expensive destination, the seafood remains budget-friendly because of its sheer abundance. 

You can get your fill of whatever your heart desires, but the favoured local dish is chilli crab. Stir-fried with a sweet and savoury tomato and chilli sauce, the main crab component is mud crab, known for their huge claws and the vast quantity of meat inside them. This dish is served in most restaurants and you can get it for quite cheap during your stay, so we recommend sampling it from a few different areas.

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16. Mozambique – Shrimp

Mozambique, a country with an amazing culinary culture that rarely gets the spotlight shone on it. Mozambique’s coast is stunning, and many tourists make the journey to swim in the azure seas and bask on the pristine beaches. But what surprises them most, without fail, are the enormous shrimp on offer.

Cooked as a major ingredient in hearty meals, or sold dried and crispy from street-side vendors, you can get shrimp in all shapes and sizes, and all for very little money. Seafood on a budget really reaches a peak here.

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17. Belgium – Mussels and fries

Mussel lovers unite because Belgium (and the northern parts of France, like Lille), have the best of the BEST to offer! Boiled and steamed in shimmery white wine jus, seasoned with parsley and onion, the signature dish of mussels is served with none other than fries (created in Belgium, by the way!) It really doesn’t get more classic than this. 

You can get ‘moules frites’, as the dish is called, anywhere in Belgium, so you won’t have to go on any wild expeditions. They’re enjoyed by absolutely everyone for a reason, so why deprive yourself of this marine goodness?

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18. England – Fish and chips

Rounding off our list is England, the island country surrounded by sea on all sides, and overflowing with tasty fishy bites. The most synonymous with England, though, has to be fish and chips. A simple filet of cod dipped in a beer batter (for that extra tang) and fried until light and crispy, served with salted thick cut chips, maybe some mushy peas on the side, and a helping of tartar sauce and lemon juice. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Fish and chips is found all over the country, but the best place to eat it is along the coasts. Share a platter with your partner or friends along Brighton Pier, or stroll the cliffs of Cornwall with the warming treat in your hands. It’s classic and the heart and soul of England.

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