Almost every Italian American family I know makes some sort of a cold fish salad to serve on Christmas Eve. They are usually pretty similar, a medley of seafood mixed with onion, garlic, parsley and celery in a lemon vinaigrette. While we often make this version, I find that all those strong flavors overpower the fish. By sautéing the fennel, shallot and garlic, you mute the flavors so that the fish is the star. And, since orange pairs so well with fennel, an orange vinaigrette ties it all together. This, too, can be made a day or two in advance.
Swap option: If you can't find bay scallops, you can use sea scallops that have been quartered. You may need to cook them an additional 15-30 seconds if they are very large.
For the orange vinaigrette:1.
In a 4-cup measuring cup, whisk together the orange zest and juice, vinegar, honey, Dijon, salt and pepper.2.
Slowly drizzle the olive oil, while whisking constantly, into the orange mixture.3.
Store in a mason jar, in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks.4.
Allow to come to room temperature and shake well before using.
For the fish salad:1.
Heat the oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat.2.
Add the fennel, shallots, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the fennel begins to soften, about 6-8 minutes.3.
Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.4.
Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate until cool.5.
Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot, filled with salted water, to a rolling boil, and prepare an ice bath.6.
Add the shrimp to the boiling water and poach until cooked through, about 1 minute to 90 seconds. Quickly transfer to the ice bath.7.
Once the water returns to a rolling boil, add the calamari and cook until tender, about 30-45 seconds. Quickly transfer to the ice bath.8.
Once the water returns to a rolling boil, add the scallops and cook until opaque throughout, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Quickly transfer to the ice bath.9.
Line a sheet pan with paper towels. Using a spider, transfer the seafood to the sheet pan to drain as much excess water as possible.10.
Add the drained seafood to the bowl with the fennel mixture.11.
Add the parsley, vinaigrette and olives and toss to combine.12.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.