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Frank Kourt

There are many dishes that are are thought to bring good luck for the year if eaten on New Year’s Day.

In the South, black-eyed peas with country ham are considered a dish that will bring luck in the coming year, while many Asian folk look to noodles as especially lucky.

Fish and other sea foods are considered an especially lucky dish in Europe, the Orient and in the United States, supposedly because fish swim with a forward motion, and this symbolizes a positive forward outlook for the New Year.

When I was a kid in Buffalo, N.Y, my dad always insisted on eating a piece of pickled herring at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve to ensure a lucky year ahead.

Being a precocious little kid, I just had to share a piece of the herring with Dad. Needless to say, pickled herring at midnight is not the most pleasant of culinary experiences for a little kid. But, I braved my way through it, both because I wanted to share in the lucky year ahead and, of course, because Dad was doing it.

It is not a tradition that I have carried on, but I do try to have some kind of fish or seafood on New Year’s eve. That is because of the luck thing, and because fish is both good for you and tasty!

Here are a few dishes you can try for New Year’s eve that I promise are far more palatable than pickled herring!

Happy New Year!

Baked whole salmon

Ingredients:

1 whole or section of salmon, cleaned and dressed

1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

2 T dry vermouth or other dry white wine

1 T lemon juice

lemon pepper

seasoned salt

sweet paprika

Preparation:

Arrange the fish in a greased baking pan on its side and pour the salad dressing over both sides. Begin baking the fish in a 350 degree oven. Combine the melted butter, wine and lemon juice and baste the fish as it cooks.

Bake for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Toward the end of the cooking process, sprinkle with lemon pepper, seasoned salt and paprika to taste. Stab with a fork and try to flake the fish off the backbone. When the fish flakes easily, it’s done.

Serve garnished with lemon slices and fresh asparagus spears. A good dry white wine like a sauvignon blanc or Riesling would complement this dish well. Serve the wine cold.

Shrimp almondine

Ingredients:

2  1/2 lb. medium-sized shrimp, cooked*

2 cups raw rice, cooked ahead and cooled (makes about four cups of cooked rice)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup salad oil  

1 cup minced green pepper

1 cup minced onion

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne

1 can condensed tomato soup

1 cup heavy cream or half and half

1/2 cup dry sherry

3/4 cup slivered, blanched almonds

Preparation:

Spread the rice evenly along the bottom of a large casserole, arrange the shrimp over the top and sprinkle with the lemon juice and salad oil. Sauté the onion and green pepper in a little butter or oil until soft. Stir in the salt, pepper, cayenne, soup, cream, sherry and half the almonds. Pour over the shrimp and stir gently.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining almonds on top and bake for another 20 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.

Serve with a crisp salad, crusty bread and ice-cold champagne!

*To cook shrimp, just dump them into a pan of boiling water for a minute or two, just until they turn a coral pink color. Place in a colander immediately and rinse with cold water. Do not over cook.

Bouillabaisse

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 leek, diced

3/4 tsp. dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 cup bottled clam juice

1 cup dry vermouth

1/4 tsp. saffron

1T dried parsley

1 one pound lobster or 1 lb. lobster tails, cut into pieces

12 mussels in their shells, scrubbed and de-bearded**

12 medium-sized uncooked shrimp, shelled and de-veined    

12 raw sea scallops or 24  bay scallops

1/2 lb. red snapped, cup into bite-sized chunks

1/2 lb. haddock, cut into bite-sized pieces

Pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

In a large pot, sauté the celery, onion, garlic, leek, thyme, and bay leaves for about five minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Add tomatoes, wine, clam juice, parsley and additional spices. Simmer for about 15 minutes more. Add  seafood and simmer another 15 minutes.

**To de-beard, just tear out the black thread-like strings seen between the shells.

Grilled salmon steaks

Ingredients:

4 salmon steaks

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 T lemon juice

1/2 tsp. dried dill or 1 1/2 tsp. fresh, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. dried basil or 1 1/2 fresh, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1 T fresh parsley, finely chopped

Preparation:

Melt the butter, add lemon juice and herbs and spices, simmer briefly.  Brush the salmon steaks with the butter mixture and place them on a hot charcoal grill. Cook for five minutes, then turn, brushing with remaining butter sauce. Cook for three minutes, prod with a fork. If the fish flakes, it’s done. If further cooking is required, turn again and baste until done. Do not over cook.

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