Wayne's Weekend: Holiday Feast Of The Seven Fishes

Take inspiration from a southern Italy tradition and create an all seafood Christmas Eve dinner.

The holidays are full of wonderful traditions.  A few of my Italian friends recently told me about “The Feast of the Seven Fishes”.  This is a Christmas Eve tradition celebrated by some Italian-Americans and in Cicely and other parts of southern Italy.  The idea is to prepare seven different seafood dishes for a no-meat evening.  A few seafood dishes I've shared in the past, most notably my Tilapia in Papillote and Cioppino, that would be perfect for this evening.  I also have a few suggestions on simple items that you can create from pre-made items from your local supermarket.  And, lastly, I have two new recipes here that can round out an all-seafood menu.  These recipes work well together for this special celebration. But, individually, they’re great as simple appetizers and meals any time of the year.

Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Sauce


Crab Cakes

2 tbl Celery, finely minced
2 tbl Red Onion, finely minced
1/2 tsp Hot Sauce Louisiana
1 tbl Lemon Juice
1 tsp Lemon Zest
1 tsp Cajun Seasoning
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/4 cu Mayonnaise
1 tbl Dijon Mustard
1 lg Egg, beaten
1/2 cu Panko Bread Crumbs
1 lb Crab Meat, picked through to remove any shells


1/4 All Purpose Flour
1/4 cu Olive Oil
3 tbl Butter


1 tsp Olive Oil
2 tbl Shallots, minced
2 tbl Roasted Red Pepper, finely minced
1/2 tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 cu Mayonnaise
1 tbl Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper


Combine sauce ingredients and set aside in the refrigerator.  You can also run the ingredients through a food processor if you'd like a smoother sauce.

Combine celery, red onion, hot sauce, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper and cajun seasoning in a large bowl.  Add mayonnaise, mustard, egg and bread crumbs.  Break crab meat into smaller pieces and add to mixture.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

After 30 minutes, heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat.  Shape mixture into small patties.  Place flour in a flat plate and dust crab cakes on top and bottom.  Saute cakes until brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Drain on a paper towel and keep warm in a 250 degree F oven. 

Serve warm with sauce.

Linguine with Shrimp & Clams
serves 4-6


1 lb Linguine
2 tbl Butter
1 tbl Olive Oil
1 sm Onion, minced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tbl Fresh Basil, chopped
1 tbl Fresh Oregano, chopped
3/4 cu White Wine
1/2 cu Bottled Clam Juice
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes, optional
1 Can Baby Clams in Water,10oz size, drained reserving liquid
6-8 fresh Clams, optional, for presentation
1 lb Shrimp
1/2 cu Heavy Cream
1 tbl Fresh Lemon Juice
Thin Slices of Half of a Lemon
1/3 cu Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
Grated Parmesan Cheese, for garnish


Peel and devein shrimp and set aside.  Scrub clams, removing the beard, and set aside in fresh water.

Cook Pasta according to package directions, timing it to be ready when the sauce is ready. 

Heat butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat.  Add onions and garlic and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Don’t let the garlic burn.  Add basil and oregano and sauté for about 1 minute.  Add wine, bottled clam juice and juice from canned clams, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and increase heat to medium high.  Once liquid is hot, add clams and cover saucepan.  Cook clams for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.  Remove the lid and add shrimp and canned clams.  Sauté until shrimp turn pink and are opaque.  Add cream, parsley, lemon juice and lemon slices and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove any clams that haven’t opened and discard.  Drain cooked pasta and add to sauce.  Toss to coat.  Transfer pasta to serving bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

Other Seafood Suggestions For An All-Seafood Menu

Seafood Salad

Purchase a prepared seafood salad at your local supermarket.  Serve it as is or over julienned greens and a few lemon wedges.

Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon always makes a nice appetizer.  Place thinly shaved salmon on a serving plate and add small portions of capers, sour cream, finely chopped red onion, chopped whites and yolks of a few boiled eggs, fresh dill and lemon wedges.  Serve with crackers, toast points or cocktail rye or pumpernickel bread.

Seafood Recipes From Past Segments

The two recipes are from previous segments and will nicely round out an all seafood meal:

Tilapia in Papillote


If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.


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