A few years ago, my mom mentioned that she and her family used to celebrate Christmas Eve with the Feast of Seven Fishes. For the non-Italians out there, the Feast of Seven Fishes is where Italian families enjoy seven seafood dishes on Christmas Eve, or a few types of seafood enjoyed seven different ways. I love a good challenge, and a day of cooking, so I happily adopted the tradition and we have been participating ever since! This year, we decided to make it a little easier on ourselves and make a seafood cioppino (complete with 5 fishes), spaghetti aioli with anchovies and garlic sautéed blue crabs.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 large shallots, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 5 cups fish stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound manila clams, scrubbed
- 1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
- 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 1/2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut or salmon, cut into 2-inch chunks (we used both salmon and halibut to meet our seafood quota)
You can find the full directions here, thanks to Giada & Food Network.
Steamed blue crabs a la the Chesapeake Bay are one of my favorite foods on Earth, but I only get to enjoy them once or twice a year when I visit my family on the East Coast, or our generous relatives send them to us to enjoy over Christmas. The latter happened this year and we had so many leftover that we decided to clean them up, sauté them in garlic butter, and enjoy them alongside our cioppino.
- 1 dozen blue crabs (cleaned and halved)
- 12 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1/2 a stick of butter
- Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for a minute until fragrant.
- In batches, saute crab halves until warmed through. Be sure to flip them halfway through cooking to ensure they are heated throughout.
I forgot to take a picture of the spaghetti (so sorry), but if you are interested in making it yourself, you can find the full recipe here!
I would love to hear if your families have any special holiday traditions. Please let me know in a comment below!