March 30, 2006


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Making Friday a fishy delight
The Lenten meal doesn’t have to be cheese pizza
By Susan Reilly

Growing up Catholic, it seemed that every family we knew had its own recipe for tuna noodle casserole which it served faithfully for supper on Fridays.

Made with a Campbell’s soup base, noodles, a couple of cans of tuna and a crumbled potato chip topping, the casserole was a snap to get on the table and meet the no-meat requirement.

While tuna noodle casserole still finds its way to the table, partially thanks to resurgence in the popularity of retro foods, there are other options out there for fish on Friday.

“We have a fish special every Friday and it is very popular,” said Meghan Levins, chef at The Barley House in Concord. “People today want something different, so we usually do trout, monkfish and escolar and they all are big sellers.”

Levins said fish sales spike during Lent and that if The Barley House puts a beer battered codfish sandwich out as a lunch special, it sells out quickly.

The 40 days of Lent means abstinence for Christians, a self-imposed sacrifice in the days leading up to Easter. Giving up flesh, red meat and sex is common during Lent. So throughout history Christians have turned to fish as a replacement protein.

But ironically, studies show that eating fish actually increases sexual desire. Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, a natural remedy prescribed to increase libido. Consider fish the Viagra of the deep blue sea. There is always a catch.

“Friday is our biggest day,” said Claire Graham, manager of the Milford Fish Market. “We do an enormous amount of takeout; absolutely everything goes.”

Christians and fish go back a long way. In his book Fish on Friday, author Brian M. Fagan contends that by the fourth century, fish had become the center of Christian holy feasts. Fagan writes that early forms of aquaculture were developed just to meet the demand. Eventually Europe’s rapidly growing Catholic population and its demand for fish led to a North Atlantic fishing industry that provided herring and cod and developed salting and smoking methods to preserve the fish for the transatlantic trip.

Over the years, the rules regarding Lent have changed quite a bit and at times have been murky at best.

And this year, adding to the confusion, St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday. For a holiday associated with corned beef and generally having a good time, this posed a problem.

Many archdioceses across the country were forced to make a decision regarding corned beef and issued press releases saying that they would grant indults (exceptions to the Catholic Church’s common law) to allow their members to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day. Call it the luck of the Irish.

Whatever your position — devout or simply health concious — many local restaurants up their fish offerings during lent.

“Anything seafood on a Friday is popular,” said Steve Nichols, owner of Tinkers Seafood in Manchester. “Although it is not like years ago. People eat it now because it is a habit and it is healthy.”

Nichols said that while he consistently sells a lot of haddock, there is a real spiked interest in sea scallops and salmon because people are much more health-conscious today.

There is an old Polish proverb that says in order for fish to taste right it must swim three times: in water, butter and wine. Whether your sport is fish chowder, fish and chips or something more exotic, fish is never fresher than during the 40 days of Lent.

Fish food
Tired of tuna noodle casserole on Fridays? Here is a sampler of fish offerings at area restaurants.

• Black Forest Café (Route 101,672-0500) Monkfish with tomato lemon coulis ($15.95).
• Chiang Mai (63 Route 101, 672-2929) The Broken Sea ($12.95) shrimp, scallops, mussels, squid with vegetables in clay pot with chili paste and lime juice.

• Bedford Village Inn (2 Village Inn Lane, Bedford, 472-2001) Poached wild Atlantic halibut with four onion salad ($25). Pistachio crusted Pacific big eye tuna with baby artichokes, buffalo mozzarella ($29).
• Karen’s Kitchen (170 Route 101, 637-1326) Chowder ($3.95); fish sandwich ($7.50) fried or broiled.
• Pizza Mia (460 Route 101, 472-8878) Seafood diavolo ($14.25) clams, mussels, shrimp over spaghetti.

• The Barley House (132 N. Main St., 228-6363) Tequilla-cilantro-lime sea scallops with tomatillo salsa ($16.95). Fresh herb seared cod sandwich ($6.95).

• Dynamite Sushi (30 Lowell Road, 889-0055) Katsu ($12.99) a cod fish filet deep fried and served with rice and miso soup. Fish jigae, a Korean fish stew ($10.99).
• Suzy’s Diner (76 Lowell Road, 883-2741) Haddock chunks ($6.95); clam strips ($5.95).

• TJ”s Bagel & Eatery (123 Nashua Road, 425-1114) Tuna melt ($5.25) on grilled bread.
• The Homestead (176 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 437-2022) Salmon Oscar ($19.99), seafood sampler ($21.99) lobster, shrimp, scallops and haddock.

• Fish n’ Kebob (171 Hanover St., 606-6009) Fish n’ chips ($4.99); haddock plate ($9.99).
• Gill’s Indian Cuisine (245 Maple St., 627-3054) Tandoori shrimp ($13.95), shrimp Biryani ($13.95) saffron-flavored basmatri rice cooked with shrimp and nuts.
• Tinker’s Seafood (545 DW Highway, 622-4272) Haddock plate ($10.75) broiled or fried with choice of side; seafood casserole ($9.95) topped with Ritz crackers.
• Athens Restaurant (31 Central St., 623-9317) Broiled scrod ($122.95) or swordfish ($15.95) served with Greek salad, rice and Greek-style potatoes.
• Café Momo (1065 Hanover St., 623-3733) Brown Guy Special ($16) scallops and shrimp marinated in white wine and spices then sautéed with vegetables and topped with poppy seed sauce. Mustard-coated Pacific tilapia ($15) served with tarkari vegetables
• Starfish (33 S. Commercial St., 296-0706) San Francisco cioppino ($19.99) shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and scrod in tomato broth. Oven-baked scrod and lobster mac & cheese ($16.99) with Ritz cracker crumbs.
• Szechuan House (245 Maple St., 669-881) Shanghai fish filet $9.95) tempura-like filet, served with stir-fried vegetables. Seafood flower basket ($12.95) scallops, shrimps, white fish sautéed with vegetables and served in a crispy noodle basket.

• King Kocoa (DW Highway, 424-6848) Seafood chowder ($2.85-$8.75).
• Giorgio’s (707 Milford Road, 883-7333) Seafood risotto ($17.95); pan roasted jumbo sea scallops ($17.95) served with plum tomato, baby spinach risotto.
• DW Pizzeria & Family Restaurant (78 DW Highway, 598-3888) Fish filet sandwich ($3.80); fish n’ chips ($8.25); seafood platter ($13.95).

• The Milford Fish Market (309 Nashua St., 673-4200) Seafood chowder ($3.50-$9.95); half-pound fried haddock ($12.95) with choice fries or cole slaw. The MFM Dijon ($8.95) choice of tuna or swordfish steak, pan-seared and topped with roasted veggies and a Dijon tartar sauce on a bulkie roll.
• The French Bistro (15 Elm St., 249-9605) Loup de Mer ($19.95) Mediterranean sea bass with pumpkin, sunflower sprout and leek with a vanilla butternut squash sauce. Moules frites ($13.95) steamed mussels and French fries.
• Golden Palace (321 Nashua St., 673-1323) Scallops with garlic sauce ($9.50); shrimp with broccoli ($9.50).
• Yankee Chef (321 Nashua St., 673-3535) Seafood chowder ($3.99/$6.49); baked stuffed haddock ($15.99); seafood Newburg Pie ($16.99).

• Fody’s Great American Tavern (9 Clinton St., 577-9015) Crab stuffed flounder with crisp mustard greens, macumber turnip puree and tarragon coulis ($24). Roasted monkfish with an artichoke, fennel and clam barigoule ($24).
• Surf (207 Main St., Nashua, 595-9293) Potato-encrusted haddock ($22) with green beans, toasted almonds and brown butter hollandaise. California fish taco ($15) with house salsa, guacamole, Napa cabbage, cheddar cheese and sour cream.
• DelVaudo’s (112 West Pearl St., 598-8007) Grilled salmon ($20), shrimp and scallop pink vodka ($20).
• YouYou (150 Broad St., 882-8337) Seafood nabe ($14.50); shrimp & vegetable tempura ($14.75).
•San Francisco Kitchen (133 Main St., 886-8833) Pan fried haddock with asparagus and plum tomatoes in a seafood cream sauce ($16.95). Baked scallops with crab meat topped with spicy mayonnaise ($17.95).
• Manhattan on Pearl (70 East Pearl St., 578-5557) Seafood paella ($13)

Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at  

03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
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