Ahi Tuna Nachos are easy and a great option for a Lent Friday. Photo by Flickr CC user Nan Palmero.
Growing up Catholic, I knew what Fridays during the Lent season delivered: flavorless fish sticks.
We didn’t know much about seafood, and what we were getting was hardly quality stuff. (A Filet-O-Fish from McDonald’s was getting classy.)
Now that I’m older and a bit wiser—about seafood at least—I can let you know that there’s nothing to fear for the next six Fridays. Delicious, fresh, sustainable fish and seafood is accessible and easy to receive and prepare.
More about that in a minute.
The Lent season begins on Ash Wednesday (March 1 this year), and continues up to Easter Sunday. For many Christians, it’s a time of reflection, atonement for past sins and an opportunity to give things up as a form of penance. (I know co-workers who are doing without soda and chocolate for the next six weeks, so they should be a blast to be around!).
Reflecting on those days of, “Don’t forget, it’s Friday. You can’t eat meat today!” got me wondering, what do fish and not eating meat have to do with Lent anyway?
I reached out to a local source, retired Reverend Peter McGrath (a very nice fellow who does awesome work with non-profits like the DeMarillac Academy in San Francisco).
“Christians in those days would fast before the Easter Vigil,” he said. “They would refrain from meat, alcohol, honey, anything extra.”
Fish was a mainstay of many diets back then, and meat was more expensive. Plus, there was another reason to give up meat.
“Thomas Aquinas put it all together in the 1400s … meat made you more sexually active,” McGrath said.
So, not eating meat during that period of time made it easier to abstain.
“Meat making you more forgetful of your prayers is a nice way of putting it,” McGrath added.
Also, many Christians still follow the belief that Jesus Christ gave up his body, his flesh, for everyone, and to abstain from eating flesh during Fridays on Lent is a way to praise Christ.
As the tradition of Lent continued, McGrath said some comical additions have been made. In 2010, the Archbishop of Miami, Florida, declared the flesh of the alligator to be fish, so Floridians wouldn’t have to abstain from eating ’gator meat during Lent.
“In Quebec in the 1600s, the bishop said beavers are fish,” McGrath said. “There’s lots of local things that crack you up.”
Back to more traditional fish, there are many great options to enjoy on Fridays. Daily Fresh Fish has created a package of fresh and frozen fish and seafood options that can be ordered online for meals during all six Fridays of Lent, or two different packages for three Fridays.
Here is a simple and quick option for one of my favorite items included, Ahi tuna!
Seared Ahi Tuna
Mix together the soy sauce, honey and sesame seeds, and add the tuna steaks. Let them marinate for at least an hour.
Once the steaks are marinated, remove them from the marinade, and slice them into ½ inch pieces.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.
Place the tuna slices in the skillet and let them cook for about 90 seconds per side.
Serve immediately. They go great on nachos with a little avocado!
Also included in the Lent packages that you can order online are two hearty servings of Mediterranean seafood stew, pieces of cod that are perfect for fish and chips, as well as delicious seafood staples like large shrimp and scallops.
I love my scallops prepared super simply. Pat them dry. Heat a little butter in a skillet and sear them for about a minute or so on each side. The tops and bottoms get a nice, tasty golden brown and the insides are juicy and oh so yummy!