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The Feast of the Seven Fishes Made Easy!

Every family celebrates the holidays a little bit differently, but for most Italian Americans the Feast of the Seven Fishes is the pinnacle of the Christmas season. This long-practiced tradition enjoyed on Christmas Eve is known as La Vigilia and consists of dishes made up of seven different types of fish or seafood. It is believed to get its roots from the Roman Catholic church, where it is customary to not consume meat on the eve of feast days, such as Christmas. While in Italy large meat free meals are prepared for Christmas Eve varying from region to region, the feast of the seven fishes is mostly an American tradition. People are often curious as to why the feast is based around 7 fish and there is no consensus on the reasoning; some believe it is to symbolize the seven sacraments of the Catholic church, whereas others believe it represents the seven days of creation. The spread for this feast can vary immensely from family to family because the seven fish used are entirely up to the chef and there is no set menu. Each year you can have a completely different selection of fish with totally new recipes, and you will still be enjoying a traditional meal. Some good go-to dishes which we at BST consider to be staples for this feast include stuffed clams, seafood salad, shrimp scampi, stuffed calamari, mussels marinara, cioppino seafood stew, and shrimp puttanesca.

Our holidays take influence from many different cultures and countries around the world, and these influences are part of what makes this time of year so special and unique. The diversity of traditions which are celebrated in the United States spice up the holiday season and allows for the incorporation of new and exciting foods you may not have had the opportunity to try. This Christmas Eve, bring something new to the table that will excite your guests and start a fresh tradition your family can enjoy for years to come. With our endless selection of top-quality seafood here at BST, we make diversifying your menu for the feast of the seven fishes a breeze this year, and below you will find a few of our favorite recipes!



 

Shrimp Puttanesca

(prep/total time – 30 min; 4 servings)

​Ingredients:

- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

- 1 pound of uncooked shrimp, peeled and cooked (cooking times based on 30/40 sized shrimp)

- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (divided)

- ¼ teaspoon salt

- 1 small onion chopped

- 2-3 anchovy fillets finely chopped

- 3 minced garlic cloves

- 2 cups of grape tomatoes

- ½ cup dry white wine

- 1/3 cup pitted olives coarsely chopped

- 2 teaspoons drained capers

- Sugar

- Chopped Italian parsley

- Hot cooked spaghetti

Directions:

- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil

- Sauté shrimp with ½ teaspoon pepper flakes until shrimp is pink (2-3 minutes)

- Stir in salt then remove from pan

- In same pan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat

- Sauté onion until tender (2 minutes)

- Add anchovies, garlic, and remaining pepper flakes

- Cook and stir until fragrant (1 minute)

- Stir in tomatoes, wine, olives, and capers and bring to a boil

- Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until tomatoes are softened and mixture is thickened (8-10 minutes)

- Stir in shrimp

- Add sugar to taste and sprinkle with parsley

- Serve as is or over spaghetti


 

Cioppino Seafood Stew

(prep/total time - 1 hr; 4 servings)

​Ingredients:

- 1 lb of prawns peeled and deveined

- 1 lb halibut fillets diced

- 16 mussels

- 16 clams 1 large, chopped onion

- 1 tablespoon of parsley chopped

- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

- 1 garlic clove minces

- 1.5 cup tomatoes crushed

- 1 tablespoon tomato paste

- 1 cup dry white wine

- 1.5 cup of water

- Evoo for taste

- Salt to taste

- Black pepper to taste

​Directions:

- Heat evoo in a pan over medium heat

- Add chopped onion and cook until lightly golden

- Add minced garlic clove, parsley, and red pepper flakes (cook and stir for 30 seconds)

- Blend with wine and cook for an additional minute

- Add tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well to combine

- Let simmer covered for 25 minutes

- Add poached clams and mussels, prawns, and halibut

- Toss gently to combine, cover, and cook for 5 minutes

- Season with salt and pepper

- Serve and enjoy

 

Fried Squid with Aioli

prep/total time - 35 min; 4 Servings

​Ingredients:

- 2/3 Cup potato starch - 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder - 1 ¾ cups arepa flour - 1 large egg yolk - 1 finely grated garlic clove - 1 teaspoon of lemon juice - ½ cup grapeseed oil - ¼ cup olive oil - Kosher salt - 8 cups of vegetable oil - 6 oz of cleaned squid (bodies and tents separated) - 4 scallions sliced into 3-inch pieces (white and pale green parts only) - 4 thin lemon wedges

- 1/3 cup of torn basil leaves

Directions:

- Whisk potato starch, baking powder, and ¾ cups of arepa flour in a large bowl

- Whisk in 2 1/3 cups water

- Let sit for 30 minutes to hydrate flour

- Place remaining 1 cup arepa flour in a small bowl

- In a separate small bowl, combine egg yolk, garlic, and lemon juice while continuously whisking

- Gradually drizzle in grapeseed and olive oil

- Whisk until thickened and emulsified, then season the aioli with salt and stir in 1 teaspoon of water

- Fit a large pot with a thermometer and pour in vegetable oil until oil is 3” up the side of the pot

- Heat over medium heat until thermometer registers 375 degrees F.

- Slice squid bodies lengthwise along one side and open to expose interior

- Cut in half crosswise, then cut each half into 1.5” triangles

- Cut tentacles in half

- Rinse squid and pat dry

- Working in batches of 5 or 6 and allowing the oil to return to 375 degreed F between batches, dredge squid, scallions, and lemon in arepa flour, shaking off excess; dip into batter, letting extra drip off

- Dip into batter and fry, turning over every 30 seconds until golden brown, crisp and puffed (about 2 minutes)

- Transfer to a paper towel and season with salt

- Top with basil, and serve with aioli


 

Baked Clams

prep/total time - 45 min; 12 servings

​Ingredients:


Breadcrumb filling:

- 4 tablespoons salted butter

- ¼ cup EVOO

- 4 large garlic cloves, finely grated

- 2 cups plain breadcrumbs

- ½ cup pecorino

- ¼ cup parsley, rough chopped





Clams:

- 1 cup dry white wine

- 3-4 sprigs of parsley

- 4 large garlic cloves

- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

- 4 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed

- Breadcrumb filling

- Olive oil for drizzling

Directions:

Breadcrumb filling:

- In a small saucepan, combine butter, oil, and garlic

- Cook over medium heat until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant

- Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes

- Meanwhile, combine breadcrumbs, pecorino and parsley and stir to combine

- Add the butter mixture to the breadcrumbs and stir to combine


Clams:

- Preheat oven to 450°F

- Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, add 2 cups of water

- Add the wine, parsley, garlic, and Worcestershire

- Cover and bring to a boil

- Add half the clams to cook, covered, until they open (about 5-10 minutes)

- Remove clams as they open to avoid overcooking

- Remove clams from cooking liquid and repeat with remaining clams

- Strain the steaming liquid through a fine mesh strainer fitted with a coffee filter or cheesecloth; reserve

- Once cool enough to handle, rinse clams under cold water to remove any sand

- Twist the shell to separate the two halves and discard empty shells

- Place shell containing clam onto a sheet pan

- Spoon the breadcrumb mixture over the clams, filling each generously

- Carefully add ½ cup of the served liquid onto the sheet pan

- Bake until lightly golden brown (about 6 minutes)

- Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil and some of the hot poaching liquid


 

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