Each Christmas Eve, we go a bit mad and cook up a multi-course "Feast of the Seven Fishes" - just for the two of us. It is fun, and gives us the inspiration to try out some new recipes.
This year our dishes ranged throughout the globe - from Italy and Spain to Vietnam, Korea and the Middle East.
Bay Scallop and Tomato Gratin
Our feast started out with a bay scallop and tomato gratin - a simple recipe from Daniel Boulud's Café Boulud Cookbook. The tomato and the breadcrumb topping added great flavor, but still let the sweet scallops shine through.
Egg, Shrimp and Scallion Pancakes
This dish, from Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, has become a favorite of ours. Shrimp and egg go so well together. Dipped into some salty fish sauce, these pancakes are pure heaven.
We paired the shrimp pancakes with a similar dish, but from another country. Jun (or Jeon) are Korean egg pancakes. We had our first Fish Jun last month at a little Korean joint in Honolulu, and we immediately fell in love. The way the texture of the fish and the texture of the egg compliment each other is fantastic. We served the Jun with a vinegary garlic-soy dipping sauce.
Gary's Smoked Alaskan Red Salmon Dip
Sherry's sister lives in Alaska, and she and her fiance sent us the makings of this dish (the key ingredient being smoked sockeye salmon they caught themselves). The salmon gets mixed with jalepeños and cream cheese (we used homemade cream cheese, of course!).
To eat it, you put some on a fork, dip it in Worcestershire sauce and put it on a Ritz cracker. It is a pretty crazy combination of flavors, but it works.
Quilcene and Malpeque Oysters
Roughly midway through our feast, we paused for a palate cleanser of oysters - Quilcene and Malpeque - from The Fishery. In past years, we've done a variety of mignonettes, but this year we had them simply plain.
We slurped as we shucked, but I managed to snap a quick picture before they were all gone. Both varieties of oysters were good, but I preferred the Quilcene - they were sweeter and less briny.
Swordfish with Romanesco and Romesco
For me, swordfish has historically been uninspiring - I picture boring, dry steaks coming off the grill. The swordfish we get from Catalina Offshore Products is a different story altogether - consistently beautiful pieces of fish that cook up nicely moist and full of flavor.
For this dish, we paired it with Romanesco cauliflower from our garden, and a Romesco sauce. It was our first time making Romesco. A blend of almonds and roasted red pepper, it is interesting stuff - very rich and intense. A little bit goes a long way.
Fish Stew with Onions and Saffron
This dish is from Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, a cookbook that is getting increasingly used in our kitchen lately. The fish is Mahi Mahi from Catalina Offshore. The caramelized onions and saffron gave the broth a lovely burnished color.
And that was our Feast of the Seven Fishes for 2011. Our numbers came out right on the nose this year - seven dishes, seven fishes.