It's been a tradition in our family ever since I can remember to eat fish on Christmas Eve. When I was a child, everything was fried—even the vegetables—but a lot of things have changed over the years, like what we know now about too much fried food and the size of our family growing to about 40. Still, our tradition remains the same. We still cook fish and keep one fried dish: large jumbo prawns.
Days of preparation go into this meal-planning—the menu, shopping for the groceries, setting and decorating the table
and arranging the flowers. We start preparing the Christmas Eve dinner in the early morning, as my mom, sister, two daughters and I clean the pounds of shrimp, clams and mussels we purchased the day before from the fish market. Personally, I don't like to call in and order my seafood; I like to see what I'm getting. Since we are serving so many fish dishes, I want to make sure I am getting the best and the freshest.
As an appetizer, I start with a cold seafood salad that is filled with fresh crabmeat, shrimp and lobster that I marinade for five hours in the refrigerator in a lime-shallot vinaigrette dressing.
Mains and Sides
After the appetizer is served, everyone is invited to the buffet table, where there are beautiful bowls of fresh vegetables, salads and other fish dishes. Among them: roasted sea bass, panko-encrusted extra-large prawns (the only fish we fry), grilled octopus and calamari and—my personal favorite—a fish and pasta soup that consists of tender, sweet shrimps, mussels, clams and halibut in a rich, spicy tomato broth and served over linguine pasta. I serve myself a big, satisfying and steaming bowl, grab one fried shrimp and usually eat it before I get back to my place at the table! Then, of course, I have to go back for more.
This year, I would like to share my favorite dish with you, what I like to call Linguine with Gifts from the Sea
. And on Christmas Day, I'll be cooking my turkey that lead to a TV show
and Christmas Crackle Ham
Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
My new show, Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love, debuts on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network January 3 at 3:30 p.m. Watch a sneak peek.