For many Italian-Americans (or just avid seafood lovers in general), Christmas Eve is an especially wonderful time. It’s when the family gathers around the table to celebrate the holiday and indulge in a big way—with the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
While there is disagreement on the exact origin and meaning of this tradition, it is said to have started in southern Italy. Eating seafood on Christmas Eve is part of the tradition of abstaining from red meat until Christmas Day—a practice which is still common in the Roman Catholic Church for various religious holidays. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this particular feast; some families opt for just one fish or as many as 13. The goal is simply to get seafood out on the table and celebrate!
At North Atlantic, we thought we’d get into the holiday spirit and create a seven-course meal with the fantastic seafood our fishers catch for us. We’ve scoured the culinary corners of the internet for delicious ideas and have included some suggested recipes for each course, but we encourage you to think of them more as a starting point for your own meal. Feel free to skip a course, or, as in some traditions, add a course (or two)! It’s the holidays, after all.
The best part of this list? There are sustainable options from NAI for each of the fish presented on it. That means that you can relax and enjoy the season without worrying about where your fish came from and how it was caught.
Still have questions? Over the past year, we’ve been working hard to ensure our customers have access to how and where our products are caught. Please check out our products list, our profile on FishChoice, or our profile with the Ocean Disclosure Project to find out more.
When you buy sustainable seafood, you not only support the livelihoods of fishers, you also support responsible fishing practices and the health of our oceans. Whatever your holiday tradition, we invite you to celebrate with sustainable seafood.
– Buone feste!
First Course: Yellowfin Tuna Crudo
Caught on longlines and handlines, with some product sourced from our pelagic species fishery improvement project (FIP) in the Indian Ocean, yellowfin tuna is lean and flavorful, perfect for serving raw and lightly dressed. The addition of chiles in this recipe adds a little festive heat and keeps this starter light.
Second Course: Haddock Cakes
These crispy cakes are a great way to incorporate and highlight this New England groundfish species, for which we carry MSC certification. They’re a simple appetizer that packs a lot of flavor and lets the creaminess of the haddock shine through.
Third Course: Maine Haddock Chowder
We know we’ve got haddock twice on this list, but this fish is perfect in so many preparations, not least of which is this chowder that also highlights local Maine ingredients—a double punch for supporting Maine food producers on land and at sea. Add your own local veggies if you aren’t in the New England area this holiday season.
Fourth Course: Scarlet Snapper and Morels in Port Reduction
The cooked meat of the scarlet snapper is sweet, lean and moist, with a mild flavor, perfect to use as the snapper featured in this simple but delicious preparation. Our scarlet snapper is caught in Indonesia’s Pacific waters using hook and line, and is one of the species covered under our demersal species FIP.
Fifth Course: Grouper with Pan-Roasted and Pickled Butternut Squash
Another demersal FIP species caught on hook and line in the Pacific, the firm white flesh, large flakes, and moisture content of our grouper makes it perfect for sautéing. This recipe is for advanced home chefs, but use it as a base for inspiration and make your own version.
Sixth Course: Baked Pollock
This New England species is a great sustainable alternative to cod, whose numbers are still recovering in this region. Our Atlantic pollock also comes from an MSC certified fishery! This recipe gives the fish a deliciously crunchy and herby crust without making it too heavy or rich.
Seventh Course: Mahi Tacos
Mahi-mahi’s lean, pinkish flesh and moderately firm texture make it perfect for a quick sear and then for piling high into a tortilla. We source some of our mahi from our pelagic species FIP, where it’s caught by pelagic longlines in the Indian Ocean. While it might not be what you usually have at the end of Christmas Eve dinner, can you really say no to a taco?