As any full-blooded Italian (or anyone who just wants an excuse to indulge in mass quantities of delicious seafood) knows, Christmas Eve is soon approaching and with it comes the Feast of Seven Fishes. An annual tradition whose roots are in the Roman Catholic custom of abstaining from meat and dairy products on Fridays and Holy Days, the Feast of Seven Fishes is a time-honored tradition that still looms large in Italy as well as right here in Connecticut. While the official name of the event is the Feast of Seven Fishes, participants are by no means limited to serving just seven seafood dishses if they feel like having more. Many people serve up to 14 different seafood items, so one obviously has quite a bit of freedom when partaking in this mouth-watering tradition.
There are several different seafood dishes that are traditionally served in the Feast of Seven Fishes, with some of the most notable ones being baccala, baked cod, fried smelts, shrimp, octopus, scungili, oysters, calamari, stuffed lobsters, stuffed clams, and many more. Please read on to learn a bit more about these seafood treats, all of which are available for purchase at Atlantic Seafood, the best seafood market in CT.
The most famous and important seafood item of the Feast of Seven Fishes is arguably baccala and Atlantic Seafood of Old Saybrook is proud to be the number one source for baccala in CT. Baccala consists of heavily salted strips of cod and is known to have a firm but chewy texture and a pleasantly mild taste which is not intensely fishy in nature. Baccala is typically prepared in strips that are between a half inch and an inch thick, between 3 and 6 inches wide, and 12 to 18 inches long. It is usually made from cod that are 4 to 6 feet long and then cut into strips which are then heavily salted for a period of about 10 days to allow for maximum preservation. Before serving, it is advisable to soak baccala in water for approximately 12 hours, while changing the water every other hour. Once this is done, all you have to do is remove the skin and bones and the baccala will be ready for serving.
Another frequently featured item in the Feast of Seven Fishes is fried smelts. Smelts are small fish that are native to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but can also be found in the Great Lakes. While they have an appearance similar to salmon, they are actually much smaller and are a frequent menu option for salmon and trout. At Atlantic Seafood, we provide our customers with the only the best smelts in Connecticut and the smelts we sell are caught in the cold Atlantic waters off the coast of New England and eastern Canada. Smelts are traditionally caught in the winter and are frequently among the spoils of northern Atlantic ice fishing. Smelts are a joy to cook as they are prepared very simply and require a minimum of effort. They are usually just fried up, either with a light batter coating or just by themselves. Smelts can be and frequently are eaten whole as their bones are very small and easy to chew and do not present any kind of digestive obstacle. Popular dipping condiments for smelts include mustard, tartar sauce, and tobasco.
Yet another seafood item that is frequently included in the Fest of Seven Fishes is scungilli. Scungilli comes from the Whelk, a large sea snail that is in the conch family and is most populous in the Atlantic Ocean. The taste of scungilli is often compared to squid and it is usually served in a garlic-rich marinara sauce alongside thin pasta such as linguini or vermicelli.
As mentioned above, oysters are another frequently featured component of the Feast of Seven Fishes. Atlantic Seafood is widely known to be the top source for oysters in CT. We proudly carry many different varieties of oysters, including such favorites as Blue Point and Malpeque. Blue Point oysters are among the most popular oysters in the world today and are medium to large in size with a salty and comparatively mild taste, making them an excellent “gateway oyster”. Mapleque oysters are native to the cold, clean waters of Malpeque Bay off the coast of Prince Edward Island in Canada. They have a flavor that has been described as “noble and exquisite”, holding the perfect balance of flavor without being too strong, and are known to go great with a glass of cold ale.
As we’re sure you’re all too aware, Christmas is drawing nearer and nearer and we’re all once again kicking ourselves for running out of time due to waiting until the last minute to do our shopping and making our preparations. Let Atlantic Seafood, your one-stop-shop for the Feast of Seven Fishes in CT lighten the load for you a bit. Stop by today and stock up for the best seafood in CT for your best-ever Feast of Seven Fishes.