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7 Fishes Christmas Chowder

Christmas Eve in my husband’s family has always been their big night. We have snacks, a light dinner, dessert, then play rummy for several hours before opening presents at the end of the evening. Tradition for them used to be whatever they felt like having that night, but in my family, my aunt’s clam chowder had become synonymous with Christmas Eve, so when I married and started spending the evening with my husband’s family, I adapted the recipe, and brought my in-laws into the tradition. While my aunt’s clam chowder is wonderful, I have a love of Italian cooking and customs, so here’s my adaptation which follows the idea of eating “seven fishes” on the holiday. May you be inspired and possibly start your own tradition with my chowder recipe. Happy holidays!

Sauté together with olive oil:

  • 8 strips bacon, diced
  • 1 lg. yellow or white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can anchovies, chopped

Then drain 2 cans of crabmeat, reserving liquid, and add to the crab juice, enough chicken or vegetable stock to equal 3 cups. Then add:

  • 12 small yukon gold potatoes or 3 large russets, diced

Cover and simmer until potatoes are done, about 12 minutes. Then add:

  • 2 cans of crabmeat (drained)
  • 1 – 6 oz. salmon fillet, cubed
  • 1 – 6 oz. tilapia or other white fish fillet, cubed
  • 18-20 raw medium shrimp (peeled/deveined/tail-off)
  • 6-8 small scallops
  • 3 cans evaporated milk + enough 1/2 & 1/2 to equal 6 total cups of milk
  • 1 can corn, drained or 8 oz. frozen or fresh corn

Season to taste with salt, white pepper, sweet paprika, Old Bay seasoning, and 1/8 tsp Zataran’s Crab Boil hot pepper liquid (use sparingly — this is very potent!)

In a separate pan, put 12 fresh mussels, half-cover with white wine, cover and simmer until mussels are all open. Add the opened mussels and some of the liquid to the chowder just before serving.

Serves 8-10 people.