So last year for Christmas, for the first time ever, we decided to swap our traditional prime rib roast for the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. Our cousins are half Italian and were spending the holiday with us for the first time in a while, so instead of having another year of endlessly noodling over ways to jazz up our decidedly no-longer-exciting rib roast, we decided to throw caution to the wind and cook up a seafood feast.
We had a Chinese/Italian fusion dinner of spaghetti alla vongole, fried calamari, salt cod fritters with marinara sauce, steamed whole Chinese sea bass, Cantonese lobster, grilled shrimp, and steamed mussels with white wine sauce. It was, in a word, AMAZING. We were converted. Why have ONE rib roast with sides when you could have SEVEN delicious and amazing seafood dishes, PLUS PASTA?!! It took us all of two seconds at the dinner table to realize that the roast may not be making an appearance again for another few years.
While we understand that the Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner is intensely traditional and tends not to change from year-to-year within families (for example, our cousin Kim insisted that we make mountains of the fried salt cod fritters, because she is very strict about ONLY enjoying them during Christmas), we decided to put together a little round-up of 2 versions of the Feast of the Seven Fishes–one with some of our best, heavy-hitting Chinese classics, and another with a decidedly more Italian flair (though with a little fusion thrown in for good measure)!
Wishing everyone happy holidays and plenty of food coma goodness in the next couple of weeks! (Click the photos to head over to the recipes!)
Our Chinese Feast of the Seven Fishes
Har Gow (Dim Sum Shrimp Dumplings)
Start off your meal with these delicate little pillow-like Har Gow. They’re a perfect appetizer to make the morning of and use to feed a ravenous crowd when everyone’s busily (and hungrily) trying to assemble the rest of the meal.
Salt & Pepper Shrimp
Do we really need a justification here? They’re salty, peppery, and fried. Nuff said.
Salt & Pepper Squid
See above for justification.
Scallop Fried Rice with XO Sauce and Crispy Garlic
This scallop fried rice is perfect for seafood lovers. Rolling out a homemade XO sauce recipe for you guys is one of our New Year’s Resolutions, but, until then, use your favorite store-bought XO sauce. And that crispy garlic? Heaven.
Cantonese-Style Ginger Scallion Lobster
A Cantonese classic–why just steam your lobster, when you can lightly fry it and toss it with delicious ginger and scallions?
Steamed Whole Fish
The centerpiece of a good Chinese meal is the whole fish. This year, wow your guests with this surprisingly easy recipe! Have your fish monger prep the fish for you to save time. When you click into the recipe, we’ve also got a handy guide for deboning your fish at the table. Handy for any whole fish recipes you decide to cook up this year!
Chinese Braised Fish (Hongshao Yu)
Chinese Braised Fish is another classic. We usually save this for Chinese New Year, but it would be equally delicious on the Christmas table.
Our Fusion Feast of the Seven Fishes
Fried calamari plus marinara sauce is always a crowd-pleaser. We love how much this one trumps anything you get at a restaurant. A little lemon on the side? Perfect.
Sesame Panko Crab Cakes with Cilantro Lime Tartar Sauce
Sesame Panko Crab Cakes are deliciously crunchy and have a subtle Asian flavor. The addition of panko makes them extra crispy!
Stir-Fried Clams in Black Bean Sauce
A Chinese classic, these could replace traditional steamed clams or mussels with white wine sauce. Or, better yet, serve both versions!
Soy Sauce Butter Pasta with Shrimp and Shiitakes
This is one of our all-time favorite recipes on the blog. It’s easy, never fails, and has an amazingly delicious umami flavor. Make it. Love it. Twirl it on your fork to your heart’s content.
Thai Basil Pesto Pasta with Spicy Shrimp
Another deliciously unexpected fusion pasta is this Thai Basil Pesto Pasta with Spicy Shrimp. Made with walnuts, fresh garlic, fruity olive oil, Thai basil, and lemon juice, it has a deliciously nutty, verdant, cinnamon-y flavor compared to your traditional basil pesto.
Lemon Soy Roasted Branzino
Inspired by a very traditional Italian meal we had in New York City a couple year’s back, this Lemon Soy Roasted Branzino is a beautiful center piece for your feast. Simple flavors and a squeeze of lemon is all it takes with branzino, which is a mediterranean sea bass.
This Shrimp Étouffée is a little unexpected for a Christmas Eve table, but the flavors are wonderfully complex and the stew is hearty and thick––perfect for winter.