Christmas Eve Seafood Salad
Christmas Eve dinner is sometimes known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. If you’re aiming for seven this will get you almost half way there. It doesn’t have to actually be fish. It could be anything that lives in the sea. Every year, either my daughter Kristina or my sister Nicki’s son Stephen make it. It’s served with the antipasto along with lots of other things. When I was growing up I never heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My mother and aunt just cooked and didn’t count. I’m sure their total was always more than seven.
This is the family recipe as recorded by Nicki –
Calamari – Cut the cleaned calamari (not lengthwise) into 1/2” circles. If you did not buy cleaned calamari you must clean the calamari under cold running water. Pull the head out of the body, making sure to get the clear “bone” out. Squeeze the body from the tail to the opening to get out any residue. Then peel the thin skin off the body. Snip off the eyes and make sure you get the small beak out. (Go for the extra buck and buy cleaned calamari). Boil the calamari in rapidly boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes. They should be tender not rubbery. Drain and set aside.
Scungilli – Fresh scungilli can be purchased at an Italian fish market. If you choose to use the fresh you should buy more than a pound because there is a lot of waste when you clean it. Rinse the fresh scungilli thoroughly under cold running water. Boil the whole scungilli in rapidly boiling salted water for about 7 – 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Slice each piece thinly, discarding the “tail” section and any hard pieces along the edges. There is really quite a bit of waste cleaning scungilli. Canned scungilli saves time, makes your life easier and is very good. I have found that La Monica is the best-canned brand and I have been using the canned for the past few years.
Octopus – Rinse under cold running water before submerging the whole octopus into salted boiling water. Boil for 30 minutes or more until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Cut off the octopus’ head and cut to separate each tentacle. With a kitchen scissor nip the dark purple skin and run your fingers along the “suckers” to release any loose particles. Cut each tentacle into small rounds.
Put the calamari, scungilli and octopus in a large bowl with the celery and garlic. Add the parsley, oil and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. This salad can be made the day before and refrigerated.
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