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This Good Friday, cook fish like Jesus did for his friends

Biblically Broiled Fish

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Rebecca Cherico - published on 03/26/24

Biblically Broiled Fish is a recipe from my mom's cookbook, "A Continual Feast." It brings up youthful memories of spending time with her in the kitchen.

Many of the things we teach our children initially seem to make our lives more difficult, not less. When your child first starts walking, you go slower: Toddlers aren’t known for speed walking on their chubby little legs, and then there are all the distractions the world has to offer (birds! stoops! brightly colored trash!), which further slows things down. Learning to tie shoes is a similar scenario — as anyone who has had to wait for a child to cross those bunny ears can attest.

Cooking is the same story: When you first try cooking with a kid, you may wonder who it was who came up with this bright idea. Preparing a meal for a minor is already a challenge, given the notorious pickiness of most kids these days.

Cooking with kids

I’m the first to admit it: Cooking with kids is messier, slower, and — disclaimer — can sometimes result in little accidents, and disappointments. But it really is worth the hassle for many reasons. First off, kids tend to get less picky when they’re involved in making meals. They see what it takes to prepare food for people, and that makes them more invested in the outcome and more appreciative of the effort. Over time, it really opens them up.

Second, it brings parents and kids together in a collaborative process where you all get to learn something. Seasoned cooks need to break down the steps of what is second nature for them, while amateurs get to learn a new skill together.

Another amazing benefit of cooking with your kids is that you can eventually get them to cook for you. If you’re lucky, they will even make things you don’t know how to make yourself: One of my daughters has become an expert at cookie making and another creates spectacular charcuterie boards.

A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz

A passion shared

Yes, I have been very blessed, but I also know that cooking together is an investment that is worth the time and effort. I know this from experience. Growing up, my mom worked a full-time job as a professor, but decided to write a cookbook when I was a teenager in a way that connected her professional expertise with her home life.

Happily, A Continual Feast is still in print. It features traditional foods tied to Catholic celebrations and feast days. Her kids were her guinea pigs as Mom tried recipes and discovered traditions (that she, as a convert to the faith, hadn’t grown up with herself). It was both interesting and entertaining, and impressed upon all of us that cooking wasfun. It was also a very tangible way of expressing a love which — especially in certain seasons of a child’s life — isn’t always easy to put into words.  The sense of food as an adventure has never left me, and I will be forever grateful to my mom for that.

Always learning and risking

My experience with my own kids tells the same story. One of the great things about “helping” my mom with her cookbook was that she was learning, too. Mom is a great cook and extraordinarily competent, but she didn’t know everything and didn’t pretend she did. Working with her gave me tools for the rest of my life, which I’ve been able to use to explore cuisines that my mother wasn’t familiar with.

Preparing meals together is messy, time-consuming and sometimes a bit risky — like life itself. But at the end of the day, you have something to eat — and a person you love to eat it with. Sounds like a win-win to me.

BIBLICALLY BROILED FISH

This Lenten recipe comes from “A Continual Feast.” My mother’s introduction notes the beautiful story of Jesus appearing to the apostles on the shore of Lake Tiberias and preparing fish for his apostles after his resurrection (John 21:5). Preparing and eating food together is one of the most basic and immediate ways of communicating our love, as Christ reminds us here.  While we do not have any recipes from the time of Christ, we do know what foods were available and used by the Jews of Palestine during his lifetime. This recipe uses that background for inspiration.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. of any fresh or defrosted fish; smaller fish or filets or steaks can be left whole while larger fish should be split
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or minced

    • Salt (to taste)
    • Olive oil
    • Red wine vinegar or lemon juice (see note below)
    • Lettuce
    • Greek or other strongly flavored olives
    • Optional: chopped fresh mint leaves

    Directions: Clean, rinse, and salt the fish. Rub with garlic, and brush with oil. Preheat the broiler. Place the fish in an oiled pan (you can add parchment or foil before oiling for easy cleanup). For smaller fish, broil fish about 3 inches from the flame (the higher rack) or about 5 inches (the lower rack) for larger fish. Split fish should be broiled skin side down. While cooking, base generously with olive oil and a little vinegar or lemon juice.

    When ready, remove the fish from the oven and serve on a bed of lettuce, surrounded by olives. Naan or pita bread would be a natural companion to the dish.

    Note: The Lemon juice is less authentic than the vinegar: Lemons were rare and expensive at the time of Christ and verjuice (the juice of sour grapes or other sour fruit) or vinegar provided tartness where that was desired. So do whichever you prefer– but I do find the vinegar very tasty on this broiled fish.


    For more meatless meal ideas, check out Aleteia’s Meatless Meal Planner for Lent 2024. There are plenty of delicious recipes that will keep your family well fed and happy all year long.

    Tags:
    ChildrenFamilyFoodGood FridayJesus Christ
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