The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian Catholic tradition: seven seafood dishes to commemorate the Seven Sacraments.
(No, we're not Italian. Not Catholic, either.)
But we are Christians -- and this is a wonderful way to celebrate the birthday of our King. After the Christmas Eve service, we set the table nicely, using antique china inherited from my (Great) Grandma Pearl, with silverware my Grandma Cumings used for her tribe. We light the candles, pull British Christmas crackers, and wear goofy paper hats while we read the jokes to each other. (Which are usually awful -- but the presents inside the crackers are cool!)
Then, we pop the cork on the wine and enjoy -- dish after dish, carefully counted to at least seven. (This year, the total came up at nine.) We take out time, and everyone invariably waddles out, hours later.
This past Christmas Eve, the Brick played for every one of the three church services. Fortunately, I did not, which made setting up the Fish Dishes much easier.
Here's what we ended up having:
Lobster Bisque (canned condensed soup -- ironically, from the Dollar Store!)
Angels on Horseback (oysters wrapped with bacon)
Spaghetti with Clam Sauce
Grilled Salmon fillets with lemon-garlic sauce
Grilled fresh sardines
Grilled sliced octopus
*The soup was very, very good -- especially with an extra can of crabmeat stirred in.
*I'd always bought fresh oysters for the Angels before. Canned oysters were a heck of a lot cheaper -- and just as tasty.
*I used to make Devils on Horseback, too -- chicken livers wrapped bacon. I thought no one liked them -- turns out Daughter #1 did! So next year, I'll restore those to the list.
*The Shrimp Scampi is terrific -- but only if you saute it at a bare minimum. Barely cook it, until the shrimp turns pink, and it's amazing -- cook it longer, and you've got 'boingy' shrimp.
*Ditto for the octopus. I messed up on this one -- it was like gnawing on a rubber band.
*The tuna casserole: winner! A can of tuna, mixed with canned mushroom sauce, fresh mushrooms, a chopped onion, a sprinkle of Parmesan and fresh-cooked noodles -- then baked until hot. Yum.
*The spaghetti with clam sauce: failure. (sigh) Even with extra clams and a shot of wine, the dish was boring. The chickens got nearly all of it.
*Grilled foods are wonderful -- but not when you're in a hurry, and it's freezing outside. The sardines, done Greek-style with garlic and olive oil, tasted good -- but had lots of bones.
The salmon fillets, on the other hand, were outstanding.
All that seafood would have been cloying without some 'refreshers:' blueberry/strawberry smoothies, fresh rolls with butter and jam, green salad and relishes. And dessert was a lot simpler than originally planned: Christmas cookies, chocolates and a dip from the fruit bowl on the table.
Hot, strong coffee and spumoni (chocolate/strawberry/vanilla ice cream, Italian-style) finished the meal.
A good time was had by all.
For more fishy ideas, try my earlier post on the subject. Or check out some of the earlier years' Seven Fish Dishes for more ideas.
(This also ran on the Brickworks blog.)