Fish Dishes for The Nine Days

As meat (and wine) are associated with joy, and thereby forbidden during this period leading up to Tisha b’Av, here are some fish dishes for you to try.
July 13, 2023
Mediterranean Fish Photo courtesy Sherri Holzer

The Nine Days are a time of reflection and mourning. This year, they go from the evening of July 18 through July 27. As meat (and wine) are associated with joy, and thereby forbidden during this period leading up to Tisha b’Av, here are some fish dishes for you to try.

“Transport yourself to my grandmother’s (lovingly referred to as ‘yia-yia’) kitchen, where the aroma of flavors from tomatoes and garlic permeated the air,” Sherri Holzer, aka Simply Sherri, told the Journal. 

A nutrition health coach and food strategist, Holzer has wholeheartedly embraced the Mediterranean lifestyle, which she calls “a cherished inheritance” from her family.

“It was during the Nine Days of Av that she would prepare this cherished family recipe, infusing each bite with the essence of tradition and love.”

Easy Baked Mediterranean Fish

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup Castelvetrano and Kalamata Olives, pitted and sliced in half

4 Tbsp capers

2 Tbsp oregano, divided

1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tsp sea (or kosher) salt, divided

Ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 lb snapper (or any white fish: cod or halibut)

2 Tbsp parsley, freshly chopped

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 lemon, sliced


Preheat the oven to 425°F. Allow the fish to stand at room temperature while prepping the vegetables.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add onion, sauté for 2 minutes and add garlic for an additional 1 minute.

Add capers, olives, coriander, cumin, 1 Tbsp oregano and chili flakes. Cook for an additional minute. Add tomatoes and ½ tsp of salt and ground black pepper. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.

Arrange tomato mixture on bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.

Pat the fish dry. Coat each piece with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, remaining oregano and a few grinds black pepper. Place filets on top of vegetables and drizzle the filets with the lemon juice.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish; the fish should flake easily and the internal temperature should is 140°F when measured with a food thermometer. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices and a little more olive oil!

For a great spin on a Southern fish recipe, try Salmon and Grits from Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey. 

“Salmon and Grits incorporate classic Southern core ingredients into a delicious fish dish that’s a spin on a classic Southern meal, but without shellfish for those who keep kosher,” Barnett and Harvey, authors of “Kugels & Collards,” told the Journal.

This special dish, from the restaurant Hyman’s in Charleston, SC, is one of the many that Southern Jews embrace. “It’s a way to both embrace Jewish history and food traditions and also support a thriving local food movement that emphasizes local and seasonal ingredients,” the authors said.

Hyman’s Salmon and Grits
Photo by Forrest Clonts

Hyman’s Salmon and Grits

4 Fresh salmon filets 

1 tsp kosher salt

Cajun seasoning (optional) 

1 Tbsp olive oil


1 cup locally milled grits

2 tsp salt

2 cups of water or milk 

2 Tbsp butter

1 egg yolk, beaten

Any fine-grained breading or cornmeal and flour

White Sauce

½ cup vegetable broth

½ cup milk

½ cup heavy cream

1 stick of butter

2 tsp minced garlic 

salt and pepper

1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese



To make the salmon: Sprinkle the salmon filets with kosher salt (and Cajun seasoning, if using), and drizzle the olive oil on to the filets. Broil or bake the filets in a conventional oven for 8–10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the salmon.

To make the grits: Put 1 cup of grits into 2 cups of salted boiling water until the water returns to a boil. Turn down to simmer, add butter, and cook slowly, stirring constantly and adding water so that it doesn’t burn.

To make a grit cake: Prepare the grits and put the grits in a greased sheet pan overnight. Once it has hardened, you can cut out round cakes. Brush the beaten egg yolks over both sides of the grit cake. Dip into the breading. Fry the grit cake in a cast iron skillet.

To make the white sauce: Add the broth, milk, cream, and butter to a large saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the garlic, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper for 1 minute. Whisk in the parmesan cheese until melted.

Put the salmon over the grits or grit cake. Pour the sauce over the salmon. Shake a little Cajun seasoning or paprika on top for color.

[Excerpted from “Kugels & Collards: Stories of Food, Family, and Tradition in Jewish South Carolina” by Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey © 2023 Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey.  Used by permission of the University of South Carolina Press.] 

Judi Leib, founder of Whisk in the Southern, loves her Poached Orange Roughy recipe, because it offers the “wow” factor with very little effort. “The vibrancy of the colors of the carrots and leeks on the white fish with the pale orange mayonnaise looks beautiful on any plate,” Leib told the Journal. 

Poached Orange Roughy 

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups orange juice

2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned

2 leeks, cleaned and julienned

4 6oz orange roughy fish filets

1/2 cup mayonnaise


In a shallow pan, just deep enough to cover fish, bring the wine, orange juice, carrots and leeks to a boil over medium heat. Slowly, lower the fish fillets into the pan and reduce heat to a low simmer.

Cook for 5-8 minutes until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.

Remove fish and veggies to plate. Cover with foil, to keep warm.

For the sauce:

Whisk a tablespoon of the remaining cooking liquid into the mayonnaise. One tablespoon at a time, whisk in 4-5 more tablespoons of cooking liquid into mayonnaise until desired consistency.

Adjust for seasoning by adding salt and white pepper if needed.

Serve fish warm or cold with mayonnaise alongside for dipping. Garnish with carrots and leeks.

Tatianna Vassilopoulos says fish tacos are her dad’s favorite. 

“It’s especially refreshing in the summertime,” Vassilopoulos, founder and baker in chief, JP’s Delights, told the Journal. “But you can never go wrong with fish tacos.”

Fish Tacos with Garlic Pepper Jelly

2 lbs. fresh or frozen cod, halibut, or tilapia

2-4 Tbsp butter

1 package coleslaw mix/cabbage

10 oz. bag shredded carrots

2-4 limes, juiced

8 oz. jar pepper jelly

4 Tbsp garlic jelly

2 tsp soy sauce

12-16 16-inch flour tortillas


If the fish is frozen be sure to defrost then pat the fish dry with paper towels.

Melt butter in a pan. Then add fish and cook for 2 to 4 minutes per side until fish is opaque. Then set aside. (*Adjust cooking time if your fish is thicker.)

In a small saucepan mix together pepper jelly, garlic jelly, lime juice and soy sauce. Cook on low heat till the jellies have melted.

In another bowl, mix together shredded cabbage/cole slaw mix and carrots.

Wrap tortillas in foil and heat in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Add cabbage and carrot mixture to the tortilla then add fish. Spoon pepper jelly on top and enjoy!

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