The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition. It dates back to the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat and dairy on Fridays, during Lent and on the eves of certain holidays. People would instead eat fish that was usually fried in oil.
Over the years, many types of fish dishes have been incorporated. There are multiple biblical theories as to why it’s 7 fishes but some families make 9, 11 and even 13!
ADAPTT (animals deserve absolute protection today and tomorrow) estimate that 90 BILLION marine animals are killed each year!! Freefromharm.org estimates that in 2009 12 billion fish and 39 billion shellfish were killed for food.
Vegans know that it doesn’t make any sense to celebrate a holiday, perhaps especially the birth of one being, by engaging in the death of other beings. But that doesn’t mean that vegans can’t enjoy this particular tradition.
There are many ways to enjoy your favorite seafood dishes in a compassionate way. Vegan foods such as tofu, tempeh and even jackfruit can be flavored and cooked in a way that is very reminiscent of fish dishes. It’s all about flavor and texture. Adding ingredients such as seaweed, kelp, dill, Old Bay and lemon can really give you those familiar flavors.
Sophie’s Kitchen makes a large variety of vegan seafood products including shrimp, calamari, scallops, fillets, prawns and even lox. I have made a lot of vegan “fish” recipes over the years so here is my compassionate version of the Italian-American tradition: The Feast of Seven Vegan Fishes. Six of the recipes have already been posted and the 7th is brand new (see below).
The Feast of Seven Vegan Fishes
People have told me again and again that these taste very close to actual scallops and have received the omnivore seal of approval. They not only taste delicious but they are elegant and will really impress your guests.
This is my answer to fish and chips. The tempeh fillets are flaky and indulgent. The spices really give you that flavor of the sea. This basic recipe can also be used to make Tempeh “Fish” Tacos and Tempeh Po’Boys.
Tom loves these. He says they taste better than the crab cakes he used to eat. These are scrumptious served as a main dish, on a salad, as a burger patty or made smaller for an appetizer.
Tuna was a big deal in my childhood and this recipe brings it back to me in a compassionate version. It’s great in salads or in sandwiches!
Who doesn’t love scampi sauce? All that butter (vegan, of course), garlic and red pepper flakes. This dish works well with tofu or with any of Sophie’s Kitchen‘s vegan shrimp products.
This is my vegan version of a dish I used to get at a restaurant in the Bronx. I loved that dish so much, I used to dream about it. Then I made a vegan version and my dream came true. Sophie’s Kitchen’s Vegan Calamari is cooked in a spicy scampi sauce with peppers and olives. This is amazing. You’ll want to bottle this sauce.
7. Paella with Roasted Vegetables and Vegan Coconut Shrimp
This is a new recipe. It’s my take on paella, the Spanish seafood rice dish. I like to make the rice separately, especially since I use brown rice and it takes so long to cook. While the rice is cooking, I roast lots of vegetables. Then I cook up Sophie’s Kitchen‘s Vegan Coconut Shrimp and mix it all together. I like to add a lot of hot sauce to mine. This is a comforting dish that’s also great for entertaining.
So there you have it – my version of The Feast of the Seven Vegan Fishes. Because it makes more sense to celebrate life with life. Living vegan is all about life. Enjoy!
Paella with Roasted Vegetables and Vegan Coconut Shrimp
2 cups brown rice, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. turmeric
4 cups water
For the vegetables
1 large red onion, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
1/3 lb. green beans, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper
1 box Sophie’s Kitchen Coconut Shrimp, defrosted
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. water
Fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges for garnish
Frank’s Hot Sauce
Pour the rice into a medium-sized saucepan and mix in the spices. Add the water, cover the pot and bring to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and let the rice simmer for 30 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit for an additional 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Taste for seasoning and set aside until the other components of the dish are ready.
While the rice is cooking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the chopped vegetables on one or two baking sheets in a single layer. Drizzle with oil, salt and pepper and toss the vegetables so they are coated in oil. Roast for about 30-35 minutes or until the vegetables are browned and crisp. Rotate the pans halfway through to ensure even cooking.
When the rice and the vegetables are almost done, prepare the vegan shrimp. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet that has a lid over medium-high heat. Arrange the vegan shrimp in a single layer in the skillet. If your skillet is too small to hold all the shrimp, cook them in two batches. Cook the shrimp until they are golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes each side. When they are crisp, add 2 Tbs. of water to the skillet and put the lid on. The shrimp will steam which softens them inside.
Transfer the rice to a large serving dish. Mix in the roasted vegetables. Add the shrimp to the dish. Garnish with parsley or cilantro and lime wedges. Add hot sauce as desired.
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.