The Unusual Food Traditions Joel McHale's Family Enjoys At The Holidays - Exclusive

America is a melting pot of people, and that's never more apparent than during the holiday season when cultures and families lean into their traditions and highlight the uniquely personal foods that bring tidings of comfort and joy. That's true for everyone, whether you're born and bred stateside, or a generational immigrant; whether you're regular folk, or a famous celebrity, like Joel McHale.

McHale grew up in the Pacific Northwest, hailing specifically from Seattle. So you can imagine that the diet of his formative years consisted of a lot of really good, fresh seafood. And McHale confirms that tradition carried over into the holiday season, influencing the go-to dishes around the table year after year.

Mashed got the chance to catch up with McHale recently, discussing all the latest on his recent projects, ahead of the holiday season. And as the conversation turned to food, McHale shared some insight into the tasty ways he and his family like to enjoy this season. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, McHale revealed his family's food traditions this time of year, including sharing one of his favorite holiday recipes from his mom.

Holidays in Seattle mean enjoying a lot of good seafood for Joel McHale

While Christmas tends to witness a little more culinary flexibility in America than, say, Thanksgiving, it's no doubt that turkey, ham, and all the fixings remain constant throughout the holiday season. Sure, you might see a prime rib thrown in there occasionally, or a rack of lamb, along with the usual plethora of belly-busting sides. But for Joel McHale and his family, coastal living has made its way into their holiday menu as well. McHale told Mashed that growing up, "we usually had salmon as a family because [in] Seattle, salmon was very cheap, and we would have a lot of that."

And while for some that may feel like a super fresh and special delicacy, it can get about as redundant as a roasted turkey if you're eating it year after year after year. Luckily for McHale, getting married meant a shakeup -– to some degree –- to his annual holiday menu. "My wife's family, thank God, they started a tradition of eating crab on Christmas, Dungeness crab ... It's so good. " 

McHale acknowledges that this tradition is still "very Seattle," noting that this used to be more ubiquitous in the region than people might think. "Crab was cheap in Seattle for forever," said McHale. And while the prices have most certainly increased over the years, the quality of seafood has not changed. And for someone like McHale, who says "Dungeness crab is the best crab on the planet," it's a Christmas tradition worth getting merry and bright about every year.

And when meat does make an appearance on McHale's holiday table, it usually comes in the form of his mom's flank steak. McHale says the meat is "marinated in soy sauce, ginger, green onion, olive oil, salt, and pepper for a couple days," and that it's "damn good." 

Check out the latest from Joel McHale on his Instagram. And get the Chief Happy Hour Officer's best cocktail tips and recipes by checking out Q Mixers.