In many Italian-American homes, Christmas Eve means celebrating the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Also known as The Vigil, this ancient tradition that originated in Southern Italy, consists of a feast with at least seven different seafood dishes. The celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the birth of the baby Jesus.
The traditional Feast of Seven Fishes menu consists of a few traditional dishes such as Baccalà (salted cod fish), lobster, sardines, eels, squid, shrimp, clams, mussels, octopus, anchovies, and whiting.
It is entirely possible and easy to recreate all our old favorite seafood dishes without the fish. All we have to do is replicate the flavors and textures like with these Vegan Crab Cake Recipes. To learn how, check out How to Make Vegan Seafood Dishes Without the Fish and You Don’t Need Fish to Make Delicious Seafood Dishes; Use These Tips Instead. Then get ready to celebrate the Feast of the Seven Vegan Fishes with these 15 fishless recipes.
1. Eggplant Filet n’ Chips
In this vegan version of the classic dish, eggplant stands in for the fish. This Eggplant Filet n’ Chips has thin slices of eggplant marinated in seaweed, battered and then baked until crisp. On the side are oil-free fries. It’s vegan, gluten-free, and fish-free. Incredible!
2. Adobong Pusit (Filipino ‘Squid’)
Adobong pusit is a Filipino delicacy: “adobo” means to cook in garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar and “pusit” means squid. The actual squid version has a black appearance due to the squid ink. This vegan Adobong Pusit has the same look thanks to mashed black beans while trumpet mushrooms replace the squid in this very flavorful dish.
3. Vegan Cioppino (Italian-Style ‘Fish’ Stew)
Cioppino is a classic Italian-American recipe, and this Vegan Cioppino is a compassionate take on the hearty and rustic “fish” stew. Tofu stands in for the fish, but the rest of the recipe stays classic with lots of vegetables and herbs simmered in a flavorful tomato broth.
4. Trumpet Mushroom ‘Calamari’
Calamari is a Christmas Eve favorite and this Trumpet Mushroom ‘Calamari’ will be your new favorite. Mushrooms stand in for the squid as they have a meaty taste and texture. Serving the mushrooms in lettuce wraps is just one of the many ways you could enjoy this vegan calamari, but you could also enjoy the mushrooms by themselves as an appetizer or snack.
5. ‘Fish’ Pie with Tofu and Oyster Mushrooms
The classic British version of this dish has strong fishy flavor and a creamy, thick sauce. This ‘Fish’ Pie with Tofu and Oyster Mushrooms is a vegan version that is simple to make. Oyster mushrooms give the dish a chewy texture while the tofu is tender and the veggies slightly crunchy. It all has a thick layer of vegan cheesy mash on top.
6. (Fish-Style) Parsnip Fillets
What do parsnips and fish have in common? One grows under the ground and one lives in the sea. They can both make a delicious dish but only one is willing to participate. These (Fish-Style) Parsnip Fillets are prepared with lemon pepper, bread crumbs, oil, lemon juice, and dill to give the vegetable the familiar seafood flavor.
7. Baked ‘Fish’ Cakes with Lemon Herb Mayo
Eat chickpeas, not fish. These Baked ‘Fish’ Cakes with Lemon Herb Mayo combine chickpeas with nori and miso to create a cake with “fishy” flavor. Pureed parsley and green onion give them a light green color and the lemon herb mayo is the perfect condiment.
8. Faux Fish Sticks with Coconut Basil Crema
Kids love fish sticks but these Faux Fish Sticks with Coconut Basil Crema are a much better choice. They’re made with hearts of palm and seasoned panko breadcrumbs to look and taste just like traditional fish sticks. Serve them with the coconut basil crema and watch them disappear.
9. Vegan Tofu Scallops
These Vegan Tofu Scallops are so delicious, and they taste so close to the original, they have been known to fool people. They also make a beautiful presentation. Serve them over pasta or in a scampi or just make a bunch to serve as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvres.
10. ‘Crab’ Cakes
Crab cakes are great for dinners and if you make them small, they’re the perfect party food. These ‘Crab’ Cakes are made with hearts of palm instead of crab with seafood seasoning that gives you the familiar crabby taste. They come together pretty fast and are easy to bake, so there’s no frying mess here!
11. Tofu ‘Shrimp’ Scampi
In Italian-American homes, pasta dishes with seafood is traditional. This Tofu Vegan “Shrimp” Scampi uses tofu in place of the shrimp but has all the classic flavors of the original. This is an elegant dish that’s perfect for the holidays, yet is very fast and easy to make.
12. Hearts of Palm Lobster Rolls
Lobster rolls are a classic New England dish. These Hearts of Palm Lobster Rolls replicate the favorite but leave the lobster alone. These rolls have all the traditional flavors and textures and with vegan butter, it’s even better than the real thing.
13. Creamy Vegan Not-Clam Chowder
Cold winter nights are perfect for this Creamy Vegan Not-Clam Chowder. Made with cashews and potatoes and flavored with seaweed and lemon, this vegan, smoky mushroom clam chowder is ultra-creamy and super thick making it very rich and hearty.
14. Vegan Nicoise Salad with Avocado
This hearty Vegan Nicoise Salad with Avocado is a delicious dish packed with fresh ingredients and intense flavors. The potatoes, green beans, vegan “tuna,” and avocado make this filling and satisfying. With romaine, tomatoes, and olives, you can enjoy all the flavor of the classic seafood salad without the fish.
15. Fish-Flavored Eggplant
No, there’s no fish in this Fish-Flavored Eggplant. It’s actually an authentic Chinese dish that is flavored with chili bean paste and soy sauce to give the eggplant a deceptively “fishy” taste. One bite of this sweet, sour, and spicy vegan fish-flavored eggplant is sure to make you feel like you’re eating an authentic Chinese seafood dish.
It’s wonderful to keep traditions alive, but sometimes traditions need to be updated with the times – especially if it means keeping the fish alive with the traditions. Now you can enjoy this Italian-American feast without the fish.
Lead image source: Vegan Cioppino