If you happen to be Catholic, you already know a thing or two about the Lenten season. You know it means that Easter is around the corner, the end of winter is in sight, and a little less pleasantly, it often means giving up your #1 vice of choice. One of the most well-known facts about Lent by Catholics and non-Catholics alike is that those who observe it cannot eat meat on Fridays. Fortunately, Catholic law does not consider seafood to be a form of meat, so this is no real loss. If anything, it’s a huge gain – yet another excuse to enjoy fresh, delicious seafood to your heart and stomach’s content.
On an interesting side note, the Filet-O-Fish at McDonald’s was actually invented so that business wouldn’t go down on Fridays during Lent. It was the first new item to be permanently added to the McDonald’s menu, but before it was included, it faced off against what was known as “The Hula Burger”. The Hula Burger consisted of a slice of fried pineapple with a slice of cheddar cheese on a biscuit and was the brainchild of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. Kroc and one of his franchisees who conceived the Filet-O-Fish made a gentlemanly wager that whichever of these 2 sandwiches sold more within their first week on the menu would become a permanent addition. Needless to say, the Filet-O-Fish won by a landslide.
Getting back to the topic at hand, we at Atlantic Seafood Market of Old Saybrook have just what you need when it comes to planning anything from a sumptuous seafood feast to a light midday snack from the sea. Since there are only 4 more Fridays remaining in Lent, we’ll now introduce to you four of our favorite meat-free meal ideas to carry you through the rest of the season.
1. The versatile and always delicious cod
One of the most popular whitefish here in New England and throughout most of the United States, cod as a mild taste and texture which gives it excellent flexibility to be included in all kinds of recipes. However, everyone loves a classic and we feel that one of the best and easiest ways to include cod in your meal is to fry up some good old fashioned fish & chips. This sure-fire winner is sure to please both your taste buds as well as your inner Englishman.
If you’re looking for a modern and more healthy twist on this timeless classic, you can bake your cod rather than frying it and in place of french fries, you can flank your cod with a side dish of our freshly-made roasted potatoes. Now that’s a match made in food heaven.
2. A tour of our delicious seafood cakes
Some of our best selling items throughout the whole year are our seafood cakes. The variety that most first-time customers will be most familiar with are crab cakes. We make our crab cakes fresh daily with authentic Maryland crab meat using Chef Jerry’s secret recipe. They’re the perfect model of simplicity – they’re pre-made for you – all you have to do is heat ’em and eat ’em. Sprinkle on a little bit of Old Bay seasoning and you’ll feel like you’re dining dockside at the famous Baltimore boardwalk with your very first bite.
Pictured above, from left to right, are our crab cakes, cod cakes, and lobster cakes.
As stated before, while crab cakes are the most well-known seafood cakes we craft, they are not the only ones. We also make cod cakes and lobster cakes with only the freshest and finest ingredients. You can try out any one of these seafood cakes, or better yet all three and treat yourself and your family to a feast of cakes that won’t result in a sugar rush.
3. Our New England Clam Chowder, Clear Broth Rhode Island Clam Chowder, and our Manhattan Style Clam Chowder
We realize we’re not bashful when it comes to talking about our chowders, but when you’ve put in the time to come out with a superior product, you’ve earned some bragging rights :). Perfect for lunch on a cold afternoon or dinner on a cold night, all three of our chowder varieties are available for sale every day at our Old Saybrook seafood market.
Many of our customers love our rich and creamy New England style clam chowder. Ironically enough, unless you actually live in New England, this is probably the only type of clam chowder you’ve ever had. Loaded with diced potatoes, fresh clams, and several other ingredients that we’re not quite ready to give away, this chowder is one of the truest tastes of New England one could ever hope for. As mentioned before, if you are a native New Englander, then you probably are familiar with Manhattan Style and Rhode Island Clearbroth chowders.
If you’re planning a visit to CT or have recently moved here, we highly recommend that you try these out. Our Manhattan Style chowder features a thin and somewhat spicy tomato based broth and our Rhode Island style has a thin and a more salty, seafood-intense flavor. If you’re looking to try something new and have a passion for rich flavor, this is the chowder for you.
4. Octopus. That’s right, we said Octopus.
At first glance, suggesting octopus for dinner might sound a little wacky to anybody who isn’t Andrew Zimmern. After all, not too many Americans think of the dinner table when they think of these unique and extremely intelligent eight-limbed creatures. In other parts of the world, octopus has been a staple of local dining and has been eaten and heartily enjoyed for centuries. If you want to spice up your food life and take a culinary vacation without having to leave town, then an octopus dinner may be right up your alley.
Often referred to as “pulpo” by Spanish, Italian, and Portugese consumers, octopus has a chewy texture and a flavor quite similar to squid, with a slightly sweet twist. It can be prepared in literally hundreds of different ways, but we’ll share this recipe for octopus salad that we feel is a big winner. Trust us, after trying this recipe out, you’ll be shocked when you hear somebody say they don’t dine on octopus. Without any further ado, here’s the octopus salad recipe, courtesy ofEpicurious.com, submitted by Ms Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez.
Ingredients: 2 lbs of octopus meat (fresh or frozen), 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp of sea salt, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, 3 finely chopped garlic cloves, 1/3 cup of chopped flat-leafed parsley, and one carrot and celery stalk (each cut in half lengthwise and sliced across)1
- Chop the octopus tentacles into 1-inch sections after rinsing well. If the meat is frozen, do not forget to thaw first.
- Place the octopus in a pot and cover it in water, boiling for approximately an hour until the meat becomes tender.
- Place the octopus in a colander and let the excess liquid drain and allow the meat to cool to room temperature.
- Mix the other ingredients together into a large bowl and then add the octopus, stirring well to mix everything together.
- Allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes so that all of the flavors can intermingle
- Serve, eat, and enjoy!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick guide to fishy Fridays and hope that you’ll try all of these tasty options out. You never know – you might just keep on having meat free Fridays even after Lent is over once you’ve experienced some of these delicious seafood sensations.
Miraglia-Enriquez, Gina Marie
Epicurious.com April, 2008