Although it has strong ties to the Roman-Catholic faith (with seven courses representing the seven days of creation), this meal is also a good excuse to gather with family and friends to dine together. Some families might not even make the full seven courses but choose to serve a couple of seafood dishes to mark the tradition, especially as the generations progress and more American traditions form. My multi-cultural family honors our Italian roots on Christmas Eve with a big bowl of fettuccine topped with shrimp and garlic-butter sauce.
Whether you already have deep-rooted traditions, or this is your first time preparing this feast, taking on this project by yourself can feel daunting. To take some of the stress off your plate, Wulf’s put together a curated seafood kit for the occasion. Ranging from ready-to-eat ingredients like marinated anchovies to whole fish, this kit (and this guide) will help you throw the ultimate holiday dinner party.
The set includes a bonus jar of bowfin caviar, which will add a touch of extravagance to your meal.
Course 1: Awaken your palate with seafood antipasti
Start your meal off with an easy antipasti course. Popular throughout the Mediterranean region, boquerones are tender and delicate in flavor. These marinated white anchovy fillets are preserved in oil with a little dash of vinegar. Boquerones are a delicious one-bite treat that requires minimal effort to shine. A little lemon zest and juice on the fish is a bright flavor boost. Give them an extra drizzle of your favorite olive oil and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley. That’s all you need to activate your guests’ taste buds.
Mussels make for another classic seafood appetizer for this Christmas Eve celebration. The mussels in this kit are preserved in oil with a nice burst of acidity from wine vinegar. These mussels are ready to eat straight from the package, but they are best served at room temperature and garnished with fresh chives or parsley. Both appetizers can be served alongside slices of toasted baguette, but don’t fill up too much on bread. There is so much more seafood to come.
Course 2: Let’s bowl for soup
Quick to prepare, fish soup is warm and comforting. Just what you need on a cold late December night. After the appetizers are done, a hot bowl of soup will make your guests feel at home. Your pot of soup can be on the stove ahead of time, and a soup course will give you time to finalize any last-minute tasks for the meal. These white fish packs are geared toward making the perfect soup. The fish will naturally flake into manageable pieces in no time. We recommend this Smoky Red Pepper Fish Soup, but any simple, flavorful soup will do the trick.
Course 3: It wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without pasta
With just a couple of courses left, it’s time for some main dishes, starting with pasta. Would it really be an Italian Christmas Eve without pasta? Laughing Bird Organic Shrimp are perfect for an easy pasta course. Complex layered pasta has its time and place, but when you have seven courses to prepare, you want to keep it simple. These shrimp are cleaned, peeled, and come with the tail-off. Each pound contains about 61 to 70 shrimp, giving you shrimp in every bite. Plus, they are hormone, antibiotic, and chemical free, leaving you with the satisfaction of a dish you feel great serving your guests. You can follow this simple recipe or serve your dish with a sauce of garlic and olive oil.
Course 4: Time to get stuffed
Want to make an impressive dish that looks like a lot of effort but requires very little? Our Sicilian-style stuffed squid will make for a perfect Christmas Eve dish without the labor of having to stuff them yourself. These squid are filled with breadcrumbs, raisins, and pine nuts for a contrast of sweet and savory. The best way to enjoy these squid are by pan-searing them in oil and then simmering them in your favorite tomato sauce, or you could finish them in the oven and serve them with lemon and a big glug of olive oil. To bolster this course, you can serve them with a side of roasted winter vegetables.
Course 5: Treat yo’ self and your guests
Everyone deserves a little bit of decadence during the holidays, and what screams luxury more than lobster? Maine lobsters are split in half and displayed in the shell. The claw and knuckle meat are neatly tucked into the head. Split lobsters are so easy to prepare. Cook lobsters in the oven or broiler at 400 until the meat is just cooked through, dotting the top with butter in the last minutes. Make sure to have extra melted butter for serving. Want to bump up the extravagance even more? Top your lobsters with the bonus bowfin caviar just before serving.
Course 6: Finish with a showstopper
Your last main course should be your showstopper. There is nothing quite like the sight of a platter of whole fish being brought to the table. Whole branzino, which is very popular in the Mediterranean, will give you the ultimate fish finale. Branzini are great broiled or roasted in the oven. You can even grill them if it’s not too cold where you live. Pair these fish with bright flavors like lemon, olives, and fresh herbs. You will be instantly transported to Sicily.
Course 7: Don't forget about dessert
We may be all about seafood here at Wulf’s, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate a good dessert. How you could possibly find room for dessert after all this food is a mystery, but where there is a will, there is a way. There always seems to be room for a little something sweet. Finish off your meal with cannoli or cookies and a cup of espresso. Don’t worry, we won’t offer you any fishy desserts here.
What to do with your bonus caviar
As ancient as sturgeon themselves, American bowfin caviar (a.k.a. “Chopique”) yields small black, and sometimes red-tinted, roe that makes a good substitute for sturgeon caviar. It’s highly regarded for its intense, earthy flavor with a mild tang and hints of spice. This caviar would make an excellent topping for your split lobsters, but it might also be worth saving for Christmas morning brunch. Bowfin caviar is also great served over top of a bagel with smoked salmon or tater tots with crème fraiche.