Feast of the Seven Fishes: Shellfish Edition

For a traditional Southern Italian Christmas (and now an Italian-American staple), the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a grand event of seafood fare on Christmas Eve. Smelts, squid, whole sea bass, and clams fill plates that are passed around large tables to fill bellies before Santa arrives. Why there are seven fishes represented at this poignant gathering is still up for debate. Is it because 7 is a lucky number? Is it for the number of days in the week? Symbolic of the day of rest? Who really knows, but a ton of seafood is consumed, so I am more than okay with that!

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We love seafood here, so let me help spark some ideas for your feast, and maybe create a new tradition! With the right items, this meal is easier to prepare than you would expect.

1. Cap-off Jonah Cocktail Claws

Sweet , tender, and snackable – perfect for an hors d’oeuvre. Serve with a grilled lemon aioli to make a simple and elegant dip while people mingle and sip cocktails.

2. Oysters – All of them.

Try experimenting with a few varieties and different mignonettes or sauces. Want to really shake things up? Try grilling some with herb and shallot butter while you’re grilling lemons for your crab claws.

3. Live Scallop

Glamour is defined by a scallop served in its own shell. Shuck one raw, slice, and garnish with herbs and a funky vinegar or flavored salt. Keep it simple. They can shine completely on their own, especially since they're in season.

4. Scungilli / Live Whelk

Here comes the salad course. Local live whelk can be poached, steamed, or grilled, and sliced on a bed of hearty greens, parsley, and sweet onions. Dress with plenty of olive oil and lemon zest.

5. Stuffed Quahogs

A little bit of New England influence never hurt anyone. Steam the clams open, chop the meat, and mix with herbs, bacon, and breadcrumbs. Stuff it back in the shell and bake until golden. The sweetness of this dish should be a great segue for the courses to come.

6. Linguine with Manila Clams

It's not officially an Italian feast without a pasta course. Manilla clams are the perfect size for a petite burst of salty sweet accents to a tender linguine, spaghetti, or angel hair. Steam the clams open with garlic and white wine, stir in some butter, pour over the pasta, and season with plenty of black pepper.

7. Cioppino with Mussels

Finish your feast with a belly warming stew featuring mussels. Nothing makes me feel all warm inside like slurping shells and sopping up tomato broth with huge chunks of bread (something crusty and rustic!). Start by sweating onions, garlic, and shallots. Add sherry or white wine, crushed tomatoes and simmer, reducing slightly. Add in whitefish, crab, and plenty of sweet mussels to round out a perfect and festive evening.

If your culinary juices are flowing, feel free to email me for further ideas or recipes.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!


Visiting our friends in the Northeast

Last Friday, I went on a road trip to visit a few friends in the Northeast before heading down to the Milford Oyster Festival. It was really cool to meet the people behind our oysters reaching restaurants and diners every day. These folks care about quality; they love what they do and have fun doing it. I really wanted to capture this, and I think it shines through in the video and photos below. We're honored to partner with some of the best in seafood in the Northeast. Please give them a holler if you're ever looking for our oysters and seafood!

Quality Seafood IN RHODE ISLAND

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I drove into a quaint neighborhood in Johnston, Rhode Island and pulled up in front of the shop. It was clear that Quality Seafood was a family business. In the retail shop, photos of Ken Amoriggi and his family hung proudly on the wall. He is the spitting image of his father.

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Find them at 23 Greenville Avenue, Johnston, RI 02919 or call them at (401) 437-6688.

I got there in time to watch them unload their daily haul from Boston. They drive to Boston pretty much every day to pick up product because they want to deliver the freshest seafood to their customers. They deliver to many customers in the Providence area and have been growing through word of mouth.

What I enjoyed most about being there was watching the camaraderie. These guys were working hard, but they were also having a good time. Thanks again for making me feel welcome!

Gulf Shrimp in Connecticut

When I walked in to Gulf Shrimp's facility, it was clear that they are serious about seafood. There is a cooler just dedicated to shellfish - I was so impressed!

Gulf Shrimp services the whole state of Connecticut and has a reputation for providing high quality seafood. They pick up from Boston almost every day of the week and source many local products from CT growers.

There's also a huge focus of being sustainable here as well. Scott Wishart, Gulf Shrimp's sales manager, showed me all the fish scraps that were going to be trucked to Boston that would be turned into cat food!

The team here doesn't stop. Seafood processing, retail market sales, deliveries... something is always going on at Gulf Shrimp, seven days a week! Find them at www.gulfshrimpco.com, 240 Atwater Street, Plantsville, CT 06479 or call them at (860) 628-8399.

purdy's farmer and the fish

Out in Salem, New York, you'll find a place with a farm, a market, a restaurant, and a raw bar. Purdy's is a completely vertically integrated venture. All of the produce used in the restaurant is farmed in the backyard and all of the seafood is exclusively distributed by Down East Seafood. Michael Kaphan, who used to work at Down East, partnered with Ed Taylor, owner of the seafood company, to open Farmer and the Fish, hence the name.

Mike has a degree in agriculture management and is at the restaurant year-round. That man knows his ingredients! Having worked in kitchens since he was a teenager and then as a fishmonger, Mike really showed his passion for food.

Everything served that night tasted so fresh, probably because it was all freshly picked! It was also a great opportunity for me to do field research and converse with diners about our oysters because Pangea oysters are heavily represented here. The restaurant was laid back, but upbeat. Drinks were phenomenal (ask for the cucumber mojito), and the front-of-house team was awesome.

It got busy super fast, so make sure you make reservations unless you can get a seat at the bar. And of course, order the shellfish when you're there!

100 Titicus Road, North Salem, NY 10560
(914) 617-8380