Friday fish dinners don’t have to be boring. If you’re going meat-free for Lent, there are plenty of delicious and creative ways to do so that go way beyond a simple pan-fried fillet. We’ve gathered six fish and seafood recipes for everything from tacos to curry to keep your taste buds entertained over the coming weeks.
Worried about whether the seafood you’re eating is good for the planet? Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, which has state-by-state recommendations for what fish to buy and what to avoid if you’re concerned about sustainability and the environment.
1. Simplified Bouillabaisse
Provençal fisherman invented bouillabaisse, a hearty seafood stew, as a way to use up the parts of their catch they couldn’t sell to local fishmongers. While few home cooks today have access to the same variety of just-caught seafood as the recipe’s originators, you can make a reasonable facsimile of this classic dish with whatever fresh fish you can get your hands on. This simplified recipe from Epicurious also eliminates some of the fussier steps from the original recipe, like making your own broth. Serve this with a good French bread slathered with rouille, a spicy, garlicky mayonnaise.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 large pinch saffron, soaked in 2 tablespoons orange juice for 10 minutes (optional)
- 1 strip orange zest
- 1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, in juice
- 6 cups seafood stock (sold at most fish markets) or clam juice
- A mix of some or all of the following seafood: halibut, cod, tilapia, or snapper (in large chunks); shell-on large shrimp or lump crabmeat; clams or mussels (enough to serve 4 to 6 people)
- 1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
Directions: Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and fennel and sauté until just brown, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the saffron (if using), orange zest, tomatoes, and stock or clam juice.
Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add the fish (but not shellfish). Cook for about 2 minutes.
Add any clams, mussels, and shrimp. Simmer until the shells just begin to open, about 4 minutes more. Add any crabmeat.
Cook until all shells have opened, the shrimp is pink and curled, and the fish flakes easily, about 2 minutes.
Serve from the pot, sprinkled with the parsley and topped with crusty bread and a dollop of rouille.
2. Lobster Tacos with Avocado Salsa
It might seem indulgent, but lobster makes a wonderful filling for tacos. And because you need less meat than if you were serving the lobster on its own, it’s also a more affordable way to enjoy this delicious shellfish. You need just one lobster to make 6 tacos, according to this recipe from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen.
- 1 to 1½ pounds lobster, steamed (or 2 lobster tails, steamed)
- 2 ripe but still firm avocados, cut into ¼ inch dice
- 2 tomatoes, cored and seeded cut into ¼ inch dice
- 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Juice from 1 lime, plus additional lime wedges for serving
- 6 corn tortillas
Directions: Add the avocado, tomato, jalapeño, garlic, salt, and lime juice to a medium bowl and mix until combined.
Remove the lobster meat from shell and dice into ½-inch pieces. Warm the tortillas in a skillet, heating for 15 to 20 seconds per side.
Spoon some lobster and avocado salsa onto each tortilla. Serve with lime wedges on the side.
3. Thai Coconut Curry Whitefish
Fresh peppers, carrots, and basil are paired with cod or other whitefish for a light and healthy meat-free meal. This one-pot dish from The Scrumptious Pumpkin is also easy to prepare – just bake the vegetables and fish with the coconut curry sauce in the oven, then serve over rice.
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup sunflower oil or canola oil
- 1 lime, freshly squeezed
- 1½ tablespoons curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 4 green onions (scallions), chopped
- 1 pound cod (or other white fish such as haddock or halibut), cut into four equal-size portions
- ¼ cup basil, chopped
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine the garlic, coconut milk, oil, lime juice, curry powder, and crushed red pepper in a medium baking dish. Add a pinch of salt, then whisk until combined.
Add the bell pepper, carrots, and green onions to baking dish and season with more salt. Stir until vegetables are coated with the curry sauce. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 15 minutes.
Season cod with salt. Remove baking dish from oven and carefully remove tinfoil. Nestle fish among the vegetables in the baking dish, making sure the pieces of fish don’t touch. Recover the fish and vegetables and bake for another 15 to 18 minutes (the fish should be flaky and opaque all the way through).
Serve fish, vegetables, and sauce over cooked rice.
4. Classic Salmon Cakes
Crab cakes may be delicious, but fresh crabmeat can be expensive, which can discourage home cooks from preparing them. If you’re craving a fried seafood cake but your budget is a little tight, try making these more affordable salmon cakes instead. Recipe from Cooking Light.
- 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
- 2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 8 ounces cooked, flaked salmon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lemon, quartered
Directions: Combine ⅓ cup panko and next 10 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl, stirring well. Add salmon; stir gently just until combined. Place remaining ⅓ cup panko in a shallow dish. Using wet hands, shape salmon mixture into 4 equal balls. Coat balls in panko. Gently flatten balls to form 4 (4-inch) patties.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Serve with lemon wedges.
5. Caesar Salad with Spicy Shrimp
Caesar salad gets a Lent-friendly makeover when you substitute grilled chicken for spicy shrimp. In this Mexican-influenced dish from Martha Stewart, croutons are replaced with baked tortilla strips, and the homemade dressing is made with a mix of light mayo, lime juice, and Parmesan.
- 4 (5-inch) corn tortillas
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons chili powder
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- ¾ pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ⅓ cup light mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
- 1 large head romaine lettuce (1½ pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place tortillas on a baking sheet. Brush both sides with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with ½ teaspoon chili powder, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown and crisp, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool, then break into pieces.
Heat broiler. In a large bowl, toss shrimp with remaining teaspoon each oil and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper. Lay shrimp flat on a broiler pan, and cook until browned and opaque throughout, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, Parmesan, anchovies, and up to 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, toss lettuce with dressing. Divide among plates, and top each with shrimp and broken tortillas. Garnish with more Parmesan.
6. Honey-Fried Walleye
Just because you’re far from the coast doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fresh seafood. Freshwater fish like walleye are perfect if you’re craving fried fish. This recipe from Taste of Home adds a little honey to sweeten up the flour and cracker breading. Serves 4 to 6.
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 cup coarsely crushed saltines (about 22 crackers)
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 4 to 6 walleye fillets (about 1½ pounds)
- Canola oil
- Additional honey
Directions: In a shallow bowl, beat egg and honey. In another bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, flour, salt, and pepper. Dip fillets into egg mixture, then coat with crumb mixture.
In a large skillet, heat ¼ inch of oil; fry fish over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Drizzle with honey, then serve.
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