Back in December, 2010, I posted the recipe for Ma’s Fritto Misto di Pesce. Don’t bother with google translate - it’s a recipe for a mixed fix fry.
I posted it because I had written about Italian and Maltese Christmas customs.
One of these customs involves eating seven fishes on Christmas Eve.
Back in Malta and Sicily Christmas Eve, also known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes, was a night of seafood splendour.
Most of these holiday customs began when families were larger than they are today, and it wasn’t unusual to have about thirty people around the table.
So, you - and six of the other women - could each prepare one dish, each guest could scoop out one piece from each dish, and, wall-ah!, tradition was respected.
As the years went by and younger family members got busy with their own nuclear families, our parents’ generation made a few adjustments in their holiday menus.
They wanted to keep up the traditions, but there was a limit to how much they could eat, and could fit in their refrigerators.
The fried fish is a bit heavy on a senior’s stomach, so they turned to making chowders.
The leftover soup made a nice light supper for two on Christmas Day.
For a smokier flavour, replace the butter with 3 slices bacon, chopped, and brown before adding the vegetables.
Add 1/2 Cup chopped carrots, red bell pepper or corn kernels with onions for extra flavour, colour and nutrition.
Want it a bit spicier? Add a pinch of fish seasoning spice blend.
Want some heat? Add 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes with the seasonings.
This recipe can also be used as a base for a turkey or chicken chowder. Just replace dill with thyme and stir in 2 Cups diced cooked turkey or chicken instead of the seafood.
Curious about other traditional Christmas recipes?
Here's a post with links for Christmas / Holiday Favourites.
East Coast Seafood Chowder
Place in a large pot
1 Tablespoon butter
Melt butter over low heat.
1/2 Cup celery, diced
3/4 Cup onions, diced
Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until onions start to brown.
Deglaze the pan with
1/3 Cup white wine
Scrape until liquid is reduced by half.
Stir in to form a thin paste
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 Cup heavy cream
2 Cups milk
Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
1 teaspoon dried dill or dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 Cup yellow fleshed potatoes, diced
Cook until the potatoes are almost tender.
While the potatoes are cooking, place in another large pot
2 Tablespoons butter
Melt butter over medium heat.
3 ounces salmon, cut into chunks
3 ounces halibut, cut into chunks
Cook until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
3 ounces lobster
3 ounces scallops
12 scrubbed mussels
12 scrubbed clams
Once the clams and mussels have opened (discard any that did not open), transfer the seafood into the chowder base.
Simmer 3 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and place dill and a dab of butter on each serving (optional).
Serve with crusty rolls or bread.