Back to the Christmas traditions, Italians believe it is custom that on Christmas Eve you must eat a fish based meal. But have you ever wondered why exactly everyone seems to follow it unquestionably? I have. Which is why this year, twenty-three fishy meals later, and in honor of our blog, I decided it was finally time to find out!
The answer actually comes from the Christian tradition, which on Christmas Eve most Italians claim they cherish dearly (you know, St. Peters’ and all). According to the New Testament, Christmas Eve is one of the most sacred days of the year, and the idea behind NOT eating meat is based on the principle of austerity; abstaining from “rich” food, that was commonly associated with feasts! So in order to follow tradition and avoid meat, the cop-out was to substitute it with fish!! Some would say genius!
Bad news: from a religious point of view, eating fish on Christmas Eve is just as bad as eating meat…if not worse! But let’s not get sidetracked here. Religion or no religion, Italians eat fish on Christmas Eve. So let’s get cooking ‘cause it’s almost dinner time!!
Here’s a salmon filet with a twist!
INGREDIENTS (makes 4 parcels)
2 salmon filets
1 large head of radicchio (shredded)
2 shallots (sliced)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 rectangular sheet of puff pastry
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 200˚C. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the shallots. Cook for 1 minute and then add the radicchio. Cook for about 5 minutes and season. It should be soft and slightly sticky. While the radicchio is softening, pin bone the salmon filets, remove the skin and divide it in two halves. Now roll out the puff pastry and cut it diagonally both ways to make four triangles.
Place the four pieces of salmon one on each triangle and top with a spoonful of radicchio. Take one triangle, lift up the three corners and seal the seams by pinching them together with your fingers. Twist the top of the parcel. Place the parcels on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the puff pastry is nice and golden.
Buon Appetito & Buon Natale!