Revamp Your Feast of the Seven Fishes

Chef Laurent Tourondel shares a new recipe to try on Christmas Eve.

Photo Courtesy of Scusi Trattoria

For many Italians and Italian Americans, Christmas Eve means one thing: seafood. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a culinary tradition rooted in the Roman Catholic practice of not eating meat on December 24. While some families do make seven types or preparations of seafood, others serve 12 (to represent the apostles), and still others are a little more liberal with their exact count.

For an upscale addition to your Feast of the Seven Fishes, try making Scusi Trattoria’s wood-baked branzino al limone. Many of the dishes at this Palm Beach Gardens restaurant were inspired by executive chef and partner Laurent Tourondel’s Italian grandmother. “My grandmother is actually the one who taught me how to cook,” says Tourondel. “She had a very good palate. She always amazed me.” He fondly recalls his own Seven Fishes feasts and the great memories they created. “The whole family would fight over who would get the langoustines!”

Below, chef Tourondel shares his recipe.


Wood-Baked Branzino al Limone

(serves 4)

Mushroom and Spinach Duxelle

24 oz. cremini mushroom caps, finely diced

1 stick unsalted butter

24 sage leaves, finely diced

7 oz. shallots, finely diced

2 oz. garlic, finely chopped

7 oz. chopped spinach

Heat the butter in a small pan until foaming. Add the sage, shallots, and garlic, and cook until translucent. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the spinach and bring to a simmer. Remove the mushrooms from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

4Ă—4 Sauce

8 oz. olive oil

8 oz. butter

8 oz. fish stock

8 oz. Meyer lemon juice

2 stems of thyme

1/2 head of garlic

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil. Transfer to a metal container, cover with plastic, and steep for one hour. Strain and cool. Season to taste.

The Fish

4 400- to 600-gram whole branzino filets, tail attached

8 oz. mushroom and spinach duxelle

4 oz. dry vermouth

4 oz. white wine

4 oz. fish stock

2 tsps. thyme leaves

8 oz. 4Ă—4 sauce

4 sprigs thyme, fried

Dried oregano

Season the branzino with salt and pepper. Spoon the duxelle between the fish filets and arrange in a baking dish. Pour the vermouth, white wine, fish stock, and thyme leaves into the baking dish, and bake at 400 degrees until the fish is cooked through (about 10 minutes). Strain the braising liquid and add the 4×4 sauce. Sprinkle with dried oregano and garnish with a fried thyme stem.  

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