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, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a enjoyable household custom we love doing. Should you’re questioning what meals to make for Christmas Eve dinner, give this a strive!
And sure … there actually are seven sorts of seafood!
A Method to Preserve Custom Alive
I wish to go on the perfect of our household tradition, traditions, and heritage. For the Italian facet, this usually 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 allergy symptoms and dietary wants.
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One Italian-American custom specifically was straightforward 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 identify 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 Little one’s arrival on Christmas morning.
Through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there have been a number of 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 components 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 intention for seven completely different sorts of seafood.
NOTE: You don’t should make all the dishes without delay to do that custom! I actually didn’t begin making all seven at the start. Choose only one or two and also you’ve acquired a festive, significant, and scrumptious Christmas Eve meal.
Our Household’s Model of “La Vigilia“
It’s taken me virtually a decade to lastly get into routine for this particular Christmas Eve meal. As you’ll be able to think about, there will be a number of prep work and cooking concerned! I added a dish annually till I acquired 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 a number of completely different choices, however listed below are our favourite dishes and ones I’ve usually 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 could possibly be served as an appetizer or as a part of the primary meal.
Crab and Clam Arancini
Arancini is a standard Italian meals, however I’ve added two sorts of seafood to make it match with this meal. The identify means “little orange” and so they’re small fried balls of rice that resemble an orange as soon as cooked. They’re historically stuffed with mozzarella cheese and meat, however I exploit seafood, herbs, and peppers for a flavorful various.
Mussels in Wine Sauce
A dish that appears actually fancy however couldn’t be less complicated to make. Since this meal has so many programs, we solely make 2-3 of those per particular person. The children suppose they’re enjoyable and luxuriate in serving to make them. I exploit this recipe and blend up the herbs and spices a bit of annually.
Scallops in Browned Butter
I really like scallops and so they’re an ideal a part of a vacation meal. Our favourite strategy to make them is with a bit of browned butter, olive oil, and contemporary herbs. Since there are such a lot of different dishes at this meal, we solely make one per particular person. My recipe is similar to this one (I simply miss the capers).
This straightforward appetizer couldn’t be simpler to organize. Boiled after which cooled shrimp are dipped in a zesty, tomato-based sauce. Should you don’t have a wholesome premade cocktail sauce out there, then do that home made one. Primal Kitchen has an unsweetened ketchup that will work properly 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 straightforward (and wholesome) appetizer to whip up for this meal. You possibly can mash them within the can and serve them on high of crackers with a slice of cheese. Canned fish actually cuts down on the prep time for this dinner. Listed below are a couple of different concepts for the way to eat sardines.
Pasta dishes usually accompany this seafood unfold, nevertheless it’s not one thing we sometimes do.
If you wish to cook dinner some pasta on your meal, listed below are some choices. Generally we’ll use gluten-free rice noodles for pasta, or I’ll usually make veggie noodles. Add some home made marinara sauce and also you’re in enterprise! Should you’re feeling spicy, strive some fra diavolo sauce as a substitute.
Baccalà- Salted Cod in Butter & Wine Discount
Baccalà is a standard predominant 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 acquired inventive.
I’ve made my very own model utilizing contemporary cod and salt in a butter and wine sauce. Right here’s a traditional Baccalà recipe if you wish to make your individual.
Soups, Salads, and Sides
For the reason that meal is extra complicated we preserve the edges tremendous easy on this night time. I’ll usually simply make a contemporary salad and roast some broccoli. You can even make a seafood salad with this tasty Caesar salad. The dressing is made with salty anchovies and I wish to high it with some sardines.
A household favourite recreated from a soup we had in a restaurant. This straightforward shrimp bisque is very easy to make and has superb 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.
Through the years our Christmas Eve dinner routine has modified loads. Whereas I nonetheless make a few of these recipes for the meal, I’ve simplified the method due to this soup. Historically referred to as cioppino, seafood stew options hearty fish fillets like halibut and shellfish. It’s a straightforward strategy to pack most (or all) of the 7 sorts of seafood into one predominant dish.
You too can make one thing like this hearty seafood chowder. I’d use arrowroot powder as a substitute of the all-purpose flour although.
Feast of the Seven Fishes Serving Ideas
Should you’re not counting on a seafood heavy soup, there will be fairly a couple of meals to organize without delay. Happily, it’s straightforward 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 strategy to make the meal extra festive is to have some particular wines readily available. Since I found Dry Farm Wines, I additionally be sure 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 often simply serve some contemporary fruit with a bit of whipped cream on high. If you wish to go all out on dessert although, listed below are some tasty dessert recipes to strive.
Do you might have any particular traditions for Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner?