A Tale of Four Fishes on Christmas Eve

Well, we do seem to have a white Christmas, barely.  Just enough to coat the grasses and pakisandra, but not adherent to the road or stone. Nice work!

At any rate, I did the holiday thing last week when visiting family in the Midwest.  While there are local people who would be willing to put up with me this holiday, I’m going it alone this time.  Which doesn’t mean I’m not going to treat myself or the cats.  They’ve already gotten some tuna (the real stuff, but that really dark area on the fish), and they will get some chicken later on.


Clockwise from left: lobster, eel, tuna, ikura

Anyhow, Christmas Eve:

I rather like the idea of traditional Italian Christmas eves, which is something Dad started up in our definitely non-Italian family once he learned about it.   They eat something like 7 varieties of seafood.  I thought about reaching out for seven, and I could have had six varieties, but I ended up with four (the king mackerel steak I had here needed to be eaten a couple days earlier in the week,  and I just didn’t get around to thawing out the other half of the Costco wild Alaskan smoked salmon that is hiding out somewhere in the freezer.

So, anyhow, the four seafood items (sized to serve one, multiply for more…):

Lobster – This was cooked on Saturday.  They were on sale.

Simply boil up enough water to cover, in a lobster or stew pot.  When boiling add the lobster and allow to return to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  For a 1.25 – 1.5 pound lobster, simmer for 10-12 minutes, then remove.  Break up the lobster, and reserve some large chunks which you’ve de-shelled (in my case a claw and half the tail), and refrigerate until use.  Consume the rest however you like.  For the Christmas eve dinner, I served it chilled, with a dash of lemon juice.

Salmon roe, also known in Japanese circles as ikura – I can buy this locally about once a year — around this holiday season.  Just spoon it out onto the plate.  I used about two ounces of a 4-ounce jar.  If you want, you can have it with crackers of some sort, but I kinda prefer mine straight up, or perhaps nestled into some endive leaves.


Salmon roe / Ikura up close and personal

Tuna – I found a nice piece of yellowfin (I don’t buy bluefin), froze half of it and reserved the other half for this meal.  Slice to quarter inch slices, like they do sashimi in restaurants, and serve cold.  Obviously you want the freshest grade of tuna for this.

Eel – This is another item that only appears at my supermarket during this season, although I’d like to know where sushi bars find theirs during the rest of the year.  I had the supermarket guy gut it — I’ve gutted it at home but it’s a process that I’d rather have them do.  I had them leave the skin on, but your mileage may differ.  Once cooked, it is edible and not slimy.   And there are no scales.  On the down side, this is something I’d rarely buy even at sushi bars, as no one really knows the full life cycle of an eel — they could be getting towards the endangered level.

In my case, I cut my eel into thirds, reserving the other two thirds for a couple other meals.

To prepare, in a skillet heat up some olive oil, perhaps a couple teaspoons.  Rinse your eel, pat dry, and allow to simmer for about 10-12 minutes, flipping it periodically.  Season with a little teryaki (or similar) sauce, garlic powder, and ground pepper.  When ready, plate and serve warm.

One good thing about this meal is that while there are a lot of elements to it, everything is simple.  To round this out to seven seafood items one could always add in Florida wild-caught shrimp (perhaps with cocktail sauce), steamed mussels or Maine steamers (served hot and dipped into garlic butter),  and a baked fish steak of whatever type looks good at your supermarket — cooked with a little butter, ground pepper, and lemon to either medium rare (depending on the type of fish, and freshness) or medium – everything just flaking, not drying out.  However, four was ample for me.

This meal of course would not be complete without a good hearty salad of greens and raw veggies to accompany it, along with a homemade viniagrette.  If you really want breads to make the occasion complete, perhaps homemade garlic crostini with butter or extra virgin olive oil, and a dab of brushetta on top.  Perhaps for dessert you could even complete the menu with that excellent Italian standby, tiramisu (although since it was just me, I opted out of dessert and the bread).


About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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