One of the nice things about working in Nicky's Plaice at this time of the year, is meeting customers from all over Europe and further afield. A lot of European Christmas Eve meals centre around fish. Traditionally a day of fast, then feast, meat was shunned in favour of seafood and fish dishes. From the Philippines to Portugal fish dishes are found on many seasonal tables. Finding out about different Christmas food traditions and fish recipes and tips is our sort of thing. We've put together some of our favourites...
Polish Christmas Carp
Feasting on Christmas Eve is a big tradition in Polish homes, at home and abroad. The Wigilia meal is often crowned with a festive carp dish, baking or cooking it in breadcrumbs or in using it in a jellied carp recipe. Like any seasonal dish treasured by many, there are variations from family to family and in different regions. We quite like a recipe from Polish Your Kitchen, which is a nice simple version of Christmas carp, brined for just a few hours and then fried in flour. You can see the full recipe here.
Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes
Technically the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a regional meal, rather than a national one. Italy has so many food traditions from area to area, that you could get into hot water by ascribing one meal to the whole country. It's one of the attractions of Italian food; you're always learning. Just when you think you've mastered one recipe, someone will tell you that it's not the way it's done! The tradition of a multi-course fish meal on Christmas Eve is something that is big among Italian Americans as well as in different parts of Italy, so there is plenty of scope to make it your own way. From squid to salmon and anything in between, we reckon a Christmas Eve feast with calamari and grilled prawns included, make lovely sharing dishes when you're wrapping the last of the presents; bonappetit.com has a nice range of dishes to try out. You can view some of their recipes here.
Salted Cod at Christmas
A lot of our French and Italian customers go for salted cod at this time of year. It's also loved by Spanish visitors to Nicky's. In fact salted cod figures on lots of Christmas menus from Scandinavia to Croatia and Central and South America. There are countless recipes, so we found it hard to pick. The BBC food website has a really great selection, so we're opting for a range of recipes, all of which you can find here.
Christmas in the Philippines
Noche buena with its Spanish colonial influences, brings families together on Christmas Eve for a feast of meat, rice, noodle and fish dishes. With over 7,000 islands making up the country, Filipino Christmas food is as varied as the regions. From lechon - delicious pork, to carbonara, anything goes. We're not 100% how much fish is eaten at Christmas, but we've tried Ginataang Alimingo, a really lovely crab and coconut milk dish, which is delicious. We picked this recipe from Filipino Chow because the ingredients are easy to get and the recipe is also easy to follow.
These are just a few dishes we've tried and tested and are nowhere near a complete list of our favourite Christmas fish recipes from around the world, but they're a good place to start if you fancy making a Christmas Eve dinner or dishes to share. Our only advice is not to get stressed, get someone to cook with you and more importantly someone to eat with you too.
About Nicky's Plaice
We're a family run business on the West Pier in the Dublin fishing village of Howth. Opened in 1961 by fisherman Nicky McLoughlin, we've now three generations of the family working together to bring you the best in fresh fish and seafood, the best home smoked salmon and seafood snacks to go at weekends.