On Christmas Eve in Italy it is a habit to prepare a fish-based menu for dinner. Here are three tasty recipes to try.

Christmas Eve in Italy

According to the Catholic Church, Christmas Eve is a “lean” day, that is, one of those during which one should eat simple, light food, or even abstain from eating, as a sign of respect and devotion. In Italy it is a habit to prepare a fish-based menu for dinner, and then indulge in casseroles, roasts and cold cuts the following day. From appetizer to second course, here are three recipes to try for dinner on Christmas Eve, December 24th.

Trio of fish tartare

1 branzino weighing approx. 700 g

400 g red shrimp

200 g bluefin tuna fillets

½ lime

20 Pirano fior di sale salt

5 g sugar

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. orange scented extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. white rum

2 sprigs fresh mint

Chives

Fillet the branzino, clean the prawns by shelling them and deveining. Blast freeze the tuna, cleaned branzino and shelled prawns for at least 24 hours. Chop the tuna with a knife, add the salt and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Chop the chives mix all together. Marinate the branzino fillets for a couple of hours covered with fleur de sel and sugar. Then wash them and pat dry thoroughly. Chop the branzino with a knife and season it at the moment with the orange scented oil. Chop the prawns, dress them with the lime juice, white rum, extra virgin olive oil, then add the finely torn (not minced!) Fresh mint.

Ravioli with cod and cruschi peppers

For the pasta dough

250 semolina flour

Water

Salt

For the filling

250 cod fish

100 g rocket

50 g goat cheese

Pepper

For the sauce

2 garlic cloves

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

15 g stale bread crumb, crumbled

15 g cruschi peppers

Mix the flour with the water and a pinch of salt until the dough is smooth and elastic, then with a rolling pin (or a pasta machine) roll out a thin sheet. Boil the cod in plenty of water, cut it into small pieces, then mix it with the chopped rocket, grated goat cheese and pepper. With the help of a pastry cutter, form the ravioli by placing a little filling in the centre of the dough. Fry the cruschi peppers in boiling oil for a few seconds, let them cool and then whir in the blender. In a pan, fry a clove of garlic in a little olive oil, then brown the previously bread crumb until golden, once cooled it will become crunchy. In another pan, sauté a clove of garlic and olive oil, boil the ravioli in plenty of salted water for 4 minutes, drain and sauté quickly in the oil and garlic pan. Serve, sprinkling the toasted breadcrumbs and the cruschi pepper powder on the ravioli.

Polpo alla Luciana

1 kg octopus, cleaned

1 l tomato purée

500 g water

200 g red onion, minced

50 g garlic, unpeeled

50 g extra virgin olive oil

40 g olives

30 g anchovies

30 g capers

15 g parsley

5 g salt

In a large pot, heat the olive oil with the red onion, olives, anchovies, capers and garlic. When onion is translucent, add the tomato purée and water, cook for a while, then add the whole tentacles of the octopus cut individually and the heart. Cook until tender, at the end of cooking add the chopped parsley and season with salt.

Divide the octopus tentacles and heart into each plate, finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and serve.