A few years in the past our household adopted the custom of the Feast of Seven Fishes for our Christmas Eve vacation feast. It’s actually modified over time, but it surely’s nonetheless a enjoyable household custom we love doing. In case you’re questioning what meals to make for Christmas Eve dinner, give this a attempt!
And sure … there actually are seven sorts of seafood!
A Solution to Preserve Custom Alive
I wish to move on one of the best of our household tradition, traditions, and heritage. For the Italian facet, this typically means passing on the meals and recipes.
Making an attempt to have a wholesome way of life isn’t about throwing traditions centered round meals out of the window. Removed from it! As a substitute, I’ve modified meatball recipes, pasta recipes, and even Christmas cookie recipes to suit our allergic reactions and dietary wants.
One Italian-American custom specifically was simple and enjoyable to proceed with our household. It’s known as “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” within the US however merely “La Vigilia,” (the vigil) in southern Italy. Because the title suggests, this custom actually entails making seven (or extra) sorts of fish on Christmas Eve.
Feast of the Seven Fishes: It’s What’s for Christmas Eve Dinner!
There’s a lot debate as to the historic origin of this custom, although we proceed it merely due to its connection to household. Consuming fish on Christmas Eve traces again to the Roman Catholic custom of abstaining from meat on Fridays and particular Holy Days. Abstaining from meat on Christmas Eve would have signified ready in anticipation of the Christ Baby’s arrival on Christmas morning.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there have been numerous southern Italian immigrants to America (particularly New York). They introduced with them the custom of serving fish dishes on Christmas Eve. Many Italian-American households nonetheless proceed this vacation season custom.
The quantity seven can be up for debate, as many households serve fewer sorts of fish (and a few function many as 13!). Seven is probably going the most typical quantity due to its sturdy historic and cultural significance in lots of elements of Europe, together with Italy. In biblical historical past, the quantity seven represents completeness and perfection. There are additionally seven sacraments and 7 lethal sins in Catholic teachings.
Does it Need to Be Fish?
Some folks actually do keep on with seven sorts of fish at their seafood feast. Others (like myself) simply purpose for seven totally different sorts of seafood.
NOTE: You don’t need to make the entire dishes without delay to do this custom! I actually didn’t begin making all seven at first. Choose only one or two and also you’ve obtained a festive, significant, and scrumptious Christmas Eve meal.
Our Household’s Model of “La Vigilia“
It’s taken me nearly a decade to lastly get into a great routine for this particular Christmas Eve meal. As you’ll be able to think about, there could be numerous prep work and cooking concerned! I added a dish annually till I obtained to the complete seven.
Now to make it even simpler I make a seafood stew that has most (or all) of the seven fishes in it. There are numerous totally different choices, however listed here are our favourite dishes and ones I’ve typically made for Christmas Eve dinner.
Appetizer Seafood Dishes
Cooking so many dishes can simply get overwhelming and contain an excessive amount of meals. Small appetizers are a great way to honor this Italian-American Christmas Eve custom with out going overboard. Any of those may very well be served as an appetizer or as a part of the primary meal.
Crab and Clam Arancini
Arancini is a conventional Italian meals, however I’ve added two sorts of seafood to make it match with this meal. The title means “little orange” and so they’re small fried balls of rice that resemble an orange as soon as cooked. They’re historically crammed with mozzarella cheese and meat, however I take advantage of seafood, herbs, and peppers for a flavorful various.
Mussels in Wine Sauce
A dish that appears actually fancy however couldn’t be easier to make. Since this meal has so many programs, we solely make 2-3 of those per individual. The children suppose they’re enjoyable and revel in serving to make them. I take advantage of this recipe and blend up the herbs and spices a little bit annually.
Scallops in Browned Butter
I like scallops and so they’re an ideal a part of a vacation meal. Our favourite technique to make them is with a little bit browned butter, olive oil, and contemporary herbs. Since there are such a lot of different dishes at this meal, we solely make one per individual. My recipe is similar to this one (I simply pass over the capers).
This easy appetizer couldn’t be simpler to arrange. Boiled after which cooled shrimp are dipped in a zesty, tomato-based sauce. In case you don’t have a wholesome premade cocktail sauce accessible, then do that selfmade one. Primal Kitchen has an unsweetened ketchup that might work nicely on this recipe.
Skillet Bang Bang Shrimp with Sriracha Dipping Sauce
All of the flavors of the well-known bang-bang shrimp with out the deep frying! I saute shrimp in butter till cooked and serve with a candy chili and sriracha sauce.
Canned sardines are one other simple (and wholesome) appetizer to whip up for this meal. You possibly can mash them within the can and serve them on prime of crackers with a slice of cheese. Canned fish actually cuts down on the prep time for this dinner. Listed here are a number of different concepts for methods to eat sardines.
Pasta dishes typically accompany this seafood unfold, but it surely’s not one thing we sometimes do.
If you wish to prepare dinner some pasta in your meal, listed here are some choices. Generally we’ll use gluten-free rice noodles for pasta, or I’ll typically make veggie noodles. Add some selfmade marinara sauce and also you’re in enterprise! In case you’re feeling spicy, attempt some fra diavolo sauce as an alternative.
Baccalà- Salted Cod in Butter & Wine Discount
Baccalà is a conventional important course for the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Historically, that is made with true Baccalà cod that’s been preserved in salt and dried. Earlier than I moved to the south this was laborious to seek out so I obtained artistic.
I’ve made my very own model utilizing contemporary cod and salt in a butter and wine sauce. Right here’s a basic Baccalà recipe if you wish to make your individual.
Soups, Salads, and Sides
Because the meal is extra complicated we preserve the edges tremendous easy on this night time. I’ll typically simply make a contemporary salad and roast some broccoli. You could possibly even make a seafood salad with this tasty Caesar salad. The dressing is made with salty anchovies and I prefer to prime it with some sardines.
A household favourite recreated from a soup we had in a restaurant. This easy shrimp bisque is very easy to make and has wonderful taste. Making this one at Christmas all the time jogs my memory how good it’s and to place it again within the household meal rotation.
Over time our Christmas Eve dinner routine has modified quite a bit. Whereas I nonetheless make a few of these recipes for the meal, I’ve simplified the method because of this soup. Historically generally known as cioppino, seafood stew options hearty fish fillets like halibut and shellfish. It’s a simple technique to pack most (or all) of the 7 sorts of seafood into one important dish.
You may also make one thing like this hearty seafood chowder. I’d use arrowroot powder as an alternative of the all-purpose flour although.
Feast of the Seven Fishes Serving Ideas
In case you’re not counting on a seafood heavy soup, there could be fairly a number of meals to arrange without delay. Thankfully, it’s simple sufficient to do most of it forward of time. I sometimes put together every part besides the scallops beforehand. I gently reheat the dishes, sauté the scallops, toss the salad, and we’re able to go!
One other technique to make the meal extra festive is to have some particular wines available. Since I found Dry Farm Wines, I additionally ensure that I’ve a few of their white wine to serve for an ideal pairing. The children get some glowing fruit-infused water in fancy glasses!
For dessert I’ll normally simply serve some contemporary fruit with a little bit whipped cream on prime. If you wish to go all out on dessert although, listed here are some tasty dessert recipes to attempt.
Do you could have any particular traditions for Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner?