I'm not Italian-American, but after hearing about their traditional Christmas Eve feast, I sure do wish I was. Pork and poultry tend to dominate the holiday meals, but on Christmas Eve, it's Italian tradition to host a meal called Feast of the Seven Fishes. The seafood tradition dates back to medieval times, when people used to fast, refraining from eating meat or milk products. Since neither meat nor butter could be used, Catholics would instead eat fish, usually fried in oil.
Nowadays, people skip the fasting part and go straight to the feasting, with 7 (if not more) different types of seafood dishes. Even if you're not Italian-American, you can still be inspired by their delicious tradition. Here are 7 fish dishes for your own Feast of Seven Fishes:
Clams or Mussels in Garlic Ginger Broth
For clams, use 1 cup of water, for mussels, use 1 cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then add sake or dry white wine, chopped garlic, fresh ginger, and a pinch of hot chili flakes.
Scrub shellfish well, discarding any open ones, then add to the broth and cook until they pop open (about 5 minutes). Spoon into bowels, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges.
Simply set boiled peeled shrimp on martini glasses filled with a leaf of lettuce and cocktail sauce. If you want to make your own sauce, you can just combine 1/2 cup of ketchup with 1 tablespoon of horseradish sauce and a squirt of lemon. And look, it's even a festive red and green!
Marinated Anchovy, Green Bean, and Red Onion Salad
Blanch the green beans and mix with marinated anchovies, sliced red onion, and finely chopped parsley. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil.
Adding shrimp (or salmon) to your favorite alfredo dish is a quick and easy way to incorporate the seafood tradition. To make your own alfredo sauce, saute salmon in garlic and a tablespoon of butter, then pour in 1 cup of half and half, 7 tablespoons of grated Parmesean, and fresh parsley.
A far cry from your everyday spaghetti dinner. This tuna spaghetti is tossed in olive oil, fresh tuna, diced tomatoes and onions, and herbs.
Halibut With Mango Salsa
This isn't a traditional Italian meal, but we like mixing cultures. Season your halibut with soy sauce, then roll it in panko and brown in a hot pan for about a minute on each side. Then, put it into a 350-degree oven for 5-8 minutes.
Toss chopped mangoes and cilantro, then add a tablespoon of sweet chili sauce and a splash of soy. Serve over halibut.
Salt Cod With Tomatoes and Capers
This is a classic Italian holiday dish and can be served as an appetizer or main meal. Celebrity chef and Italian-American Mario Batali has a fantastic recipe for this dish, also referred to as Baccalà alla Vesuviana.
What do you cook for a Christmas Eve meal?