Feast of Seven Fishes recipes with a unique spin

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cooking segment

On Christmas Eve, Italians all over the world will sit down to enjoy the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

The tradition dates back to the biblical days when Catholics abstained from eating meat on Holy Days. Executive chef, Juan Carlos Ortega of the Blue Fin restaurant at the “W Hotel” in Times Square, puts a unique spin on the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Shellfish Broth

Approximately 2 quarts

4 tablespoons canola oil

1 small Spanish onions, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 pounds calamari (insides cleaned)

8oz shrimp shells

1lb white fish bones

1 pinch saffron

1 dry white wine (optional)

6 plum tomatoes cut in half and roasted in oven

4 whole black peppercorns

1 lobster body, cleaned and cut into small pieces

4 quarts water


  1. 1. Heat a sauce pot and heat up oil
  2. 2. Seared lobster shells for about 4 minutes
  3. 3. Add shrimp shells and fish bones, cook for about 3 minutes
  4. 4. Add more oil (if needed)
  5. 5. Add garlic, cook garlic until golden colored.
  6. 6. Add onions and sweat until tender
  7. 7. Deglaze with white wine
  8. 8. Add the tomatoes and saffron, peppercorn
  9. 9. Add water and cook for about 1 hour
  10. 10. Lower the flame to very low
  11. 11. Add the calamari  (insides clean)
  12. 12. Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes
  13. 13. Remove from heat and cover it. Let it infuse for about 20 minutes.
  14. 14. Pass it through a fine strainer.

Paella Rice

Approximately for 2 people


3 tablespoon olive oil

1small Spanish onion, small diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 pinches saffron threads

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ cup tomato, peeled and seeds squeezed out, chopped

1 lb. Uncle Ben’s rice

2 ounces Palacio chorizo, cut in quarters and diced

1 quarts shellfish broth

1 quart chicken stock

Kosher salt and pepper to taste.

  1. 1. Sweat the onion and garlic in olive oil.
  2. 2. Add the saffron and stir well to release the color.
  3. 3. Add the tomato paste and chopped tomato – cook out for a couple of minutes; season as needed.
  4. 4. Add the rice and stir well to coat.
  5. 5. Add the chorizo and start to add the liquids, using an approximate ratio of 2/3 shellfish to 1/3 chicken stock.  The liquid should always just cover the rice and the rice itself should be stirred as little as possible.
  6. 6. Cook the rice until it is well done and all of the liquid is absorbed.

Feast of the Seven Fish Paella

For 2 Servings


1c shellfish broth (separate recipe)

1cup chicken stock

4oz calamari, cut into rings

16oz black mussels

8 medium size shrimp, peeled and deveined

3oz of king crab

12 manila clams

1ea. lobster tail, split in half

6pcs of white fish (2oz each)

3oz of blanched English peas

3oz red bell pepper, julienned and sautéed in olive oil

5 springs Parsley, chopped

2 lemon wedges

Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

  1. 7. Reheat the paella rice in a small amount of shellfish broth and chicken stock.
  2. 8. Heat a small amount of the shellfish broth and cook the garnish in the following order:  clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and white fish, lobster tail, king crab.
  3. 9. On a separate pan heat the peppers in a pan and quickly reheat the peas.
  4. 10. Spoon the rice into a paella pan.  Garnish the rice with the protein – partially burying  the mussels and clams in the rice and arranging the rest of the garnish on top.  Garnish with the peas, parsley and lemon wedges.