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Dec 22, 2005 01:43 PM

Definitely in over my head for Christmas Eve!

  • j

Oh my goodness... I don't know how this happened, but all of a sudden I'm supposed to be cooking seven fishes for Christmas Eve for 4 people (plus some sort of EASY vegetarian dish for 2 veggies). This was supposed to be my first year *trying* this with just myself and Mr. Belly, so it wouldn't really matter if I screw it up (there *are* 8 different take-out places within walking distance :-)). Now, here I am with 2 lbs of baccala and no idea!

I was thinking of majorly scaling down the original plan which was a shellfish-stuffed bass/snapper/whatever (from Marcella Hazan's book). Rather than that (which I've never done before), I'm thinking of doing Rachel Ray's Cioppino (which I've also never done, but at least it's easy!). She asks for 1.5 lbs cod and I'm wondering if I can use my soaked baccala. What do you think? If you have some other super-easy dish that involves several different "fishes", I'd love to know about it. (There's a link to Rachel Ray's recipe below).

Also, if you have some magical way to bail me out of this, I'd love to hear it! (Or, alternately, how about an easy veg. main dish - I was thinking of making lasagne tomorrow, sticking it in the freezer and using that.)

Oh yes, and just to make this a little more difficult, I'm doing all of this in my father-in-law's *very* small (and unfamiliar) kitchen, so anything that requires special gadgets is defintely out.

Thank you thank you thank you!!!


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  1. Baccala is delicious poached, combined with mashed potatoes, formed into cakes, breadcrumbed, and pan-fried. Maybe with panko, eh?

    Also can be poached and combined with mashed potatoes for a delectable dip/spread.

    1. I think cioppino is a great idea. I would not use the salted fish in it though--I would use the baccala in a cold salad--easy, and better made a day in advance (after soaking a couple of days, poach, mix with good quality olive oil, red wine vinegar, pitted oil cured olives, garlic, a few strips of roasted red pepper, dried red pepper if you like spice...). For vegetarians, how about an eggplant parmesan (also can make in advance and reheat) and linguine with oil and garlic (for everybody).

      3 Replies
      1. re: Marge

        Do you think 2(.7, but who's counting) lbs is too much to just put in salad? I was actually thinking of putting 1.5 lbs into the stew and then using the other 1.2 lbs for salad.

        I've never used baccala before, so I'm not really sure what the texture is going to be like when it's done soaking. Will it be similar to regular cod? Thanks for any advice!

        1. re: Jellybelly

          Texture will not be like regular cod and I'd guess it will fall apart into string in the stew if cooked too long. They are not substitutes.

          1. re: rjka

            What (S)he said...baccala and fresh cod are not interchangeable. Maybe use half for baccala salad and half (as someone else suggested) for codfish cakes to serve with eggs (in lieu of potatoes) for breakfast Christmas day....

      2. The recipe looks pretty easy but I would change two things. Instead of chicken broth, I would use a mixture of clam juice and water 50/50 and I would use Newmans sockarooni sauce or another good pasta sauce for the tomatoes. If you are in California, a nice addition would be some Dungeness crab cooked and thoroughly cracked by your market (tell them it is for a seafood stew so they break it into small enough pieces)If you use the clam juice and crab that would add 2 fish to her 5 giving you your total in one dish.

        1. Yikes! When i tried the seven fishes, I made a nice fisherman's soup, grilled shrimp and calamari and garlic in tomato sauce with pasta. The baccala was a disaster as I soaked it too long at room temperature and it was unusable. If I were to try it again, I would soak it a couple of times, food process add mashed potatoes and no addittional salt and make cod cakes in advance that you could panfry at the last minute.Chioppino should be fine. Good luck and enjoy the holiday.

          1. 7 fishes? sounds like sashimi/sushi time.

            I have picked up this mixed frozen Thai seafood before for like $4 per lb and used it in soup/curry.

            Paella or bisque would be my other thoughts.