Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian (or Italian American) Christmas tradition where seven courses, or seven to twelve varieties of seafood are prepared…depends on who’s family you’re asking. Everyone has their traditions, and therefore tradition is all up to the family chef. This is a classic Christmas dish that should be served more often and here’s why: it falls perfectly into the fancy-lazy category because it’s a one-pot recipe that can be served as a starter or main course, and serving stew at a dinner party is low-key elegant IMHO. Oh, and the rich tomato based broth and blend of spices is so delicious, why save it for the holidays?


all units: U.S. Imperial

  • 1 lb skinless halibut filet
  • .5 lb black mussels (cleaned & rinsed)
  • .5 lb lb clams (cleaned & rinsed)
  • .5 lb squid: tubes & tentacles
  • 4-6 lobster claws
  • 1lb uncooked shrimp
  • 16 oz seafood stock
  • 1 can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 shallot
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • For serving: chopped flat leaf parsley & good quality, crusty bread

Finley chop the onion, shallot, garlic and fennel. Heat a large pot with a glug of olive oil, sweat the onion, shallot, garlic, and fennel with a big pinch of sea salt. In a small frying pan, toast the fennel and coriander seeds, remove from the heat and crush into a coarse powder. Stir in the spice mix, with a pinch of chili flakes, until the onion and fennel mix is translucent.

Pour in the wine and wait for the alcohol to burn off, about 2-3 minutes, then add the seafood stock and saffron threads and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes and reduce heat to a medium-high heat. Check the seasoning (depending on what type of seafood stock, it may already be quite salty).

Chop the halibut into 1 inch cubes, slice the squid tubes into 1/2 inch ribbons. Add all the seafood to the pot and cover. Reduce the heat, and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until all the flavors have deepened. Serve warm with freshly chopped parsley and crusty bread.

*A note on seafood stock, homemade is best (but who’s got time) so I always hunt down the “homemade” ones at my local fishmonger. Most gourmet markets or seafood shops will make their own stock and it’s superior in flavor than the boxed stock on the shelf. If that’s all you can find, it works in a pinch and I promise your stew will be t-a-s-t-y. 

serves 4-6