Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve: A Baccala Recipe

December 19, 2016  |  By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve: A Baccala Recipe

Salt cod at market and ready for a cooking class in ItalyCodfish is a popular dish around the world come the Christmas holiday season. In Portugal, it’s a tradition that dates back centuries, and is often served salted. In Mexico and Brazil, it also often has a place at the table. Codfish also maybe a part of Italy’s Feast of the Seven Fishes — a Christmas Eve meal that’s also celebrated by many Italian Americans.

See our cooking vacations in Italy.

There’s no hard and fast rule as to what fish is served during the “Feast.” (Although eel was once a mainstay for many!) Some families even serve 12 fish – in recognition of the 12 apostles – rather than “just” seven. It can often be combined or served during other courses as well; such as in a stew or in pasta.

If you’re looking for a simple but delicious fish dish to serve for your Christmas Eve feast, try this stewed codfish “baccalà” dish from the kitchen of our Amalfi Coast cooking vacation Mediterranean Cooking Experience. Baccalà is so common in Italy come the Christmas holiday that it’s common to see huge buckets of salted cod in the street. Often a hose will be in the bucket too, causing water to overflow into the city streets.

Check out a traditional Roman recipe for baccalà.

Before you start making this dish, it’s important to prepare the baccala.

Preparing the Baccala
1. Purchase a big piece of salted baccala. Soak the fish in fresh water between 48 and 72 hours, and change the water every eight hours or so in order to clean the fish of the salt.
2. Drain the baccala, and pat it completely dry.
3. Cut the fish into the pieces you plan to serve it.

Baccala with Tomato Sauce Recipe

6 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Cook method: simmer

Make the Tomato Sauce
IngredientsItalian baccala dish made during a cooking vacation in Italy

  • Black olives, chopped
  • Capers
  • Pinch of oregano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bunch of cherry tomatoes, approx. 20
  • Salt
  • Fresh basil leaves

Cook baccalà with our chefs on the Amalfi Coast!

Directions
1. Wash all the cherry tomatoes, and then cut off the top and cut each of them in half.
2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
3. To the pan, add the garlic and sauté 1 minute, or until the garlic turns fragrant (but not brown). Don’t let the olive oil burn.
4. Add in the tomatoes along with a pinch of salt and basil. Continue to cook this for about 10 minutes so the tomatoes cook and soften. Mash them with a fork.
5. Add more salt, if needed.
6. Next add in the black olives, capers, and a pinch of oregano.
7. At the end of the cooking process, add in the codfish and cook for five more minutes.
8. After it’s done cooking, sprinkle the dish with chopped parsley for some color, and then serve along some crusty bread.

Enjoy! If you decide to make this dish in your home kitchen, feel free to share it with us over on Facebook!

If you are looking for other traditional Italian Christmas recipes, check out our traditional Christmas Cappelletti, our Panettone recipe, or our recipe for cartellate pastries.

Want to learn even more holiday dishes? Come visit our chefs in Italy for a taste of what Christmas is like with a cooking vacation.

By Liz Hall

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By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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