Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve: The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Many Italian-American families celebrate Christmas Eve by cooking a meal of fish and shellfish. In my family, Christmas Eve more often includes last-minute wrapping, Chinese food, and The Christmas Story, but this year we decided to up the ante and embrace the fishy tradition (with the help of some venerable sources). We cooked and ate for seven hours...and we even managed to include cod (although not the infamous baccala). My mom made some crab cakes that stole the show and I've included her recipe below. The feast was an exhausting, slightly drunken, incredibly filling success.

Anchovies and Pimentos (A pared down version of our family's classic antipasto)
Shrimp Cocktail

Mussels in a Cilantro Broth

Crab Cakes

Penne with Octopus in Tomato Sauce (left) and Baked Stuffed Squid (right)
Baked Cod with Potatoes and Olives, Sauteed Kale

Bon Appetit (June 2002)

Makes 8 crab cakes.
  • 3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs*
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb crabmeat, well drained
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
Line baking sheet with foil. Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Add crabmeat and stir gently to combine. (You can add more mayo here if the mixture seems dry.) Shape mixture into eight 1/2-inch-thick cakes. Transfer to prepared sheet. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook crab cakes until bottoms are brown, about 4 minutes. Using spatula, carefully turn cakes over and cook until second sides are brown, about 4 minutes longer. Serve over lightly dressed mixed greens, with lemon wedges.

*If you are anything like me, you are probably considering skipping this step. But, I promise the homemade breadcrumbs make all the difference. They don't taste like filler and they help add some crunch when fried. 


  1. I am so in-love with your blog! This post intrigued me the most as this 7 fish dinner (ok and drink-fest) is what my family has done for many generations. It is my favorite day of the year and I love that you shared in this experience with your family. I hope you are all well and I hope you have created a tradition. I will recommend going for the baccala (I have a simple yet delicious recipe from my grandma if you would like to give it a try) and putting it out with the antipasto:)

  2. Thanks for your kind words - I'm so glad you are enjoying the blog. I'd love the baccala recipe. (I had a big baccala cooking fail in Rome, and I'd like to get back on the horse.)