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Is it Christmas yet?
Whether you’re serving Sicilian-style Feast of the Seven Fishes or just want a lighter Christmas Eve dinner, here are nine fish and seafood dishes worthy of a special occasion.
1. Side of Salmon
A whole salmon fillet can easily serve a crowd and is delicious hot, at room temperature or even cold. This dill marinated one with a mustard sauce takes its cue from Scandinavia. If you want something more boldly flavored, rub the fish with a mix of spicy chipotle chiles, tamarind and maple syrup.
2. Whole Fish
For an intimate Christmas dinner, pack one or two whole fish (such as branzino, striped bass or black bass) in a salt crust and bake. Bring to the table and crack the crust to reveal the fish inside.
For a casual gathering, serve bowls of mussels with a flavorful, fragrant broth, like one with tomato sauce and sausage or ginger and lemongrass. Alternatively, serve mussels on the half shell as an hors d’oeuvres.
4. Stone Crab
Stone crab is a winter delicacy from Florida that you can often find shipped up to other parts of the country this time of year. Serve it chilled, perhaps with a simple cocktail sauce.
Splurge on domestic wild shrimp and poach them in vermouth. Serve them with a ginger remoulade sauce as a riff on shrimp cocktail.
If you want to cram several types of fish and seafood into one dish, a stew is your best bet. You can go Italian-style, with a tomato-y broth and tons of shellfish; Greek-style, with white fish, mussels and the simplest lemon broth; or Catalan style, with tomatoes, olives and ham.
Or go in an entirely different direction by making a spicy kimchi broth to serve with lobster and clams.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and author of The Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016) and the blog Eat Better, Drink Better. She is also the cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.