Many people begin their Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve. Fish and seafood are very popular on Christmas Eve, perhaps due to the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from red meat on Wednesdays, Fridays, during Lent and on holy days.
In this post, I will share some popular Christmas Eve fish and fish-friendly dishes from around the world, along with recommended wines.
Appetizer. Let’s start with Coquille St. Jacques from France! In spite of its potentially awe-inspiring name, I found a simple recipe for this warm scallops and garlic dish on Food.com. While a little less traditional, you could serve the scallops over warmed, semi-wilted spinach salad drizzled in fresh olive oil if you want a more substantial appetizer. I recommend pairing this dish with a light white sparkling wine. (WineShop At Home’s Petit Cadeau is delicious.)
Salad Course. If you want to serve a separate salad instead of turning your Coquille St. Jacques into one, I recommend Kvashenaya kapusta provansal, a Russian cabbage salad from Whats4eats.com. To borrow art terms, the flavor saturation will be a nice blend without overpowering either your starter or main course, and the food’s “hue” (food weight) will be a good match in lightness. This salad should be accompanied with another white of somewhat sweeter tones to balance the cabbage’s sour, like a Pinot Grigio or Riesling.
Main Course. Italy is famous for its ‘Feast of Seven Fishes,’ really a main course comprised of seven (or more!) fish dishes. Why seven? Well, seven is historically and figuratively a holy number. God created the world in seven days, and there are seven sacraments in the Catholic religion. Whatever the reason, it would be appropriate to serve fish as a main course. I chose Italian Cioppino with gremolata toasts, as it is rich, zesty and flavorful. This recipe from epicurious features the traditional red sauce cioppino, although there are clear broth style bouillabaisse (fish stew) recipes that would be great, too.
Cioppino is a full meal in a bowl, so it can be paired with a rich, oily, oaky Chardonnay, or even a lighter red, like Pinot Noir. Yet, I even know people who enjoy it with a more substantial red like a Barbera or Cabernet.
Are you finished? Of course not — there’s still the dessert course! But you’ll have to wait for scrumptious dessert recipes in an upcoming post.
Cheers to a WINEderful Christmas Eve feast!