Kent Coast Sea Fishing Compendium
Cooking the Catch
A chronology of fish cookery extracted from sea angling books and fish recipes
published during the 600 year period from 1390 to 2017
- "The Forme of Cury" (1390) Richard II
- "A Book of Cookrye" (1591) A. W.
- "The Art of Cookery made plain and easy" (1747) Hannah Glasse
- "American Cookery" (1796) Amelia Simmons
- "The American Frugal Housewife" (1832) Lydia Maria Child
- "Fish, How to Choose and How to Dress" (1843) William Hughes "Piscator"
- "Modern Cookery for Private Families" (1845) Eliza Acton
- "What Shall We Have for Dinner ?" (1851) Catherine Dickens ("Lady Maria Clutterbuck")
- "A Practical Treatise on the Choice and Cookery of Fish" (1854) William Hughes "Piscator"
- "The Book of Household Management" (1861) Isabella Mary Beeton
- "Sea-fishing as a Sport" (1865) Lambton J. H. Young
- "Soups and Dressed Fish à la Mode" (1888) Harriet Anne De Salis
- "A Handbook of Fish Cookery: How to buy, dress, cook and eat fish" (1897) Lucy H. Yates
- "Simple Fish and Vegetable Sauces" (1903) Charles Herman Senn, Brown & Polson
- "Practical Sea Fishing" (1905) P. L. Haslope
- "A Guide to Modern Cookery" (1907) Georges Auguste Escoffier
- "Fish and How to Cook it" (1907) Mrs C. S. Peel
- "How to Cook Fish" (1908) Olive Green
- "R.M.S. Titanic Menu" (2nd April 1912) Second Officer Charles Lightoller
- "Cookery for every Household" (1914) Florence B. Jack
- "Fish and how to Cook it" (1915) Department of the Naval Service, Ottawa
- "The Gentle Art of Cookery" (1925) Mrs Hilda (C. F.) Leyel & Miss Olga Hartley
- "Sea Fishing Simplified" (1929) Francis Dyke Holcombe & A. Fraser-Brunner
- "The ABC of Fish Cooking" (6 May 1930)
- "Daily Express Prize Recipes for Fish Cookery" (9th June 1930) Daily Express
- "A Pretty Kettle of Fish" (1935) Elizabeth Lucas
- "The New Herring Book" (1938) Mable Webb, Herring Industry Board
- "Fish Dishes specially arranged for cooking with Regulo Oven Control" (circa 1938) Radiation Publications Department
- "Inshore Sea Fishing" (1939) William S. Forsyth
- "Wartime Fish Cookery" (1943) Elizabeth Fuller Whiteman, Conservation Bulletin 27, United States Department of the Interior
- "The ABC of Cookery" (1945) Ministry of Food, HMSO
- "Cooking White Fish" (June 1947) Ministry of Food Leaflet No 2, HMSO
- "Fish Cookery" (March 1948) Ministry of Food, HMSO
- "Now Cook Me The Fish: 146 fresh-water fish recipes" (1950) Margaret Butterworth
- "Madame Prunier's Fish Cookery Book: 1000 Famous Recipes" (1955) Ambrose Heath & Madame Simone Barnagaud Prunier
- "A Housewife Cookery Book: Unusual and Inexpensive Fish Dishes" (1956) Rosemary Hume, Cordon Bleu School of Cookery
- "Bass: How to Catch Them" (1957) Alan Young
- "The Modern Sea Angler" (1958) Hugh Stoker (1st edition)
- "The Compleat Angler's Wife: A complete guide to cooking the angler's catch" (1964) Suzanne Mollie Beedell
- "Sea Fishing for Pleasure and Profit" (1965) Rowan Cunningham O'Farrell
- "Fish Pie … as eaten by gentlemen who made their mustachios curl" Sheila Hutchins, The Daily Express, Friday 8 February 1974 at page 11
- "How to weather the prices storm - with a squall of squid from Rockall" Sheila Hutchins, The Daily Express, Friday 26 September 1975 at page 6
- "Fisherman's Handbook" The Marshall Cavendish Volume 3, Part 74 (1979) Jan Orchard
- "The Modern Sea Angler" (1979) Hugh Stoker (6th edition)
- "Cod Fishing" (1987) John Rawle
- "Sea Fishing For Fun" (1997) Alan Wrangles & Jack P. Tupper
- "Cod Fishing: The Complete Guide" (1997) John Wilson & Dave Lewis
- "Baked salmon trout" Elizabeth David (2010)
- Sustainable Fish Recipes (2017) Anon
"The Secret Library" (2016) Oliver Tearle at pages 140 to 142
6. The Victorians
Cooking the Books
In October 1851, a book appeared that bore, on its title page, the comically absurd name of Lady Maria Clutterbuck. The book had already been through a first edition and had proved so popular with readers that a second was printed in time for the Christmas market. The book's popularity would continue well into the decade, running through five editions before 1860.
The book, What Shall We Have for Dinner ?, was, in fact, not by a lady named Maria Clutterbuck but by a housewife who bore a name far more recognizable to the 1850s public: Dickens. Catherine Dickens, Charles's wife, was its secret author and took her pseudonym from the name of a character she had played in one of her husband's theatrical productions, Used Up, in which Charles and Catherine had acted alongside each other at Rockingham Castle in 1851.
The cookbook, at least as we know it, was a reasonably recent phenomenon. Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families had been a runaway bestseller following its publication in 1845, and within eight years it had already gone through thirteen editions. It was one of the first cookery books to provide lists of ingredients, along with the precise quantities of each. Hard though it is to believe, cookbooks before Acton's had tended to omit this information, even though it's difficult to imagine an effective recipe without them. (Richard II's Forme of Cury , needless to say, had not included these details.) Acton's book was also the first such work to include a recipe for Christmas pudding, another sign that the 1840s were the decade in which the modern British Christmas was created.
 Editor's note: The Forme of Cury (The 'Method of Cooking', cury being from Middle French cuire: to cook) is an extensive collection of medieval English recipes from the 14th century. Originally in the form of a scroll, its authors are listed as "the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II". It is among the oldest English cookery books, and the first to mention olive oil, gourds, and spices such as mace and cloves.
Catherine Dickens' book, then, was riding the wave of an immensely popular and lucrative new genre: the cookbook aimed at the burgeoning numbers of middle-class Victorians. Although it was just fifty-five pages in length and didn't provide much detail about how to put the listed ingredients together - something of a limitation for a cookbook even then - it featured an impressive number of recipes, forty-nine in all, among them spicier dishes such as salmon curry. Catherine's recipe for cauliflower cheese made with Parmesan (the Dickenses had visited Italy in the 1840s) is also included. Her book includes one of the earliest soufflé recipes in English, made with Gruyere and Parmesan: soufflé was a dish only recently made easy to cook at home, thanks to the invention of closed ranges with temperature controls.
Catherine's was also one of the first English cookery books to order the dishes along the lines of Russian service - that is, dinner served in successive courses rather than in the French 'buffet' style - which would become the preferred way in which the Victorians chose to dine by the end of the century and has remained so ever since. It was not just a culinary but a social shift: when entertaining others at dinner, the gap between courses enabled more opportunities for conversation among the guests. The modern English dinner party had been born.
Dickens was partial to a bit of cheese and preferred to end a meal with, of all things, cheese on toast.
What Shall We Have for Dinner ? remained popular until the end of the 1850s, and its popularity might have continued if it hadn't been for the publication, in 1861, of a book that would outsell both Catherine Dickens' book and, for that matter, Eliza Acton's. Titled Beeton's Book of Household Management, this new book would represent the last word in cookery - and a fair bit else - for the rest of the Victorian era and beyond. Thereafter, 'Mrs Beeton' would be the byword for Victorian cookery, while Eliza Acton and Lady Maria Clutterbuck would be consigned to relative obscurity in the history of Victorian dining. Catherine, who had acted alongside her husband as Maria Clutterbuck in 1851, had also meanwhile been supplanted in her husband's affections by another actress, Ellen Ternan, and Dickens had separated from Catherine in 1858. But Catherine's one book remains a revealing insight into what mealtimes at the Dickenses' were like. It also sheds light on changing attitudes to dining in nineteenth-century England.
Editor's note: Isabella Mary Beeton (née Mayson) (12 March 1836 - 6 February 1865), also known as "Fatty" to her fiancé and future husband, Samuel Orchart Beeton, was the English author of The Book of Household Management, first published in book form in October 1861, in which she warns readers that
"there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife's badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways"
yet, privately, she confessed to her fiancé:
"I shall have to go through that terrible ordeal, a dinner party … I do so hate it; a good dance somewhere is much more in my line".
'Fatty' was only twenty-one years of age when she began compiling her guide to running a Victorian home and she died just seven years later, by which date 2 million copies had been sold remaining in print ever since.
The sources are listed in date order of publication
"The Forme of Cury" (1390) The Chief Master Cooks of King Richard II
"The Secret Library" (2016) Oliver Tearle at pages 51 & 52
We have Richard II to thank for several things. As well as providing Shakespeare with the subject for one of his finest early history plays, he is credited with introducing the handkerchief to England. He is also remembered for putting down the Peasants' Revolt while he was a boy of just fourteen.
But there is another thing for which we have Richard - in many ways a rather unpleasant king - to thank: the first cookbook written in English was compiled for him. The Forme of Cury ('The form of cooking') was put together by an anonymous author in around 1390. It contains nearly 200 recipes, including an early quiche (known then as a 'custard') and a 'blank mang', a sweet dish made with milk, rice, almonds, sugar and - er, slices of meat. It may not sound much but it was a popular dish at the time and would later evolve, for good or ill, into blancmange.
A number of ingredients - spices, in particular - feature in The Forme of Cury, making their debut in English records. Cloves and mace appear here for the first time in English cookery, and numerous other rare spices such as ginger, pepper and nutmeg are to be found in the recipes. Perhaps surprisingly - given that it is England's only native spice - mustard gets only one mention in the entire book, where it appears as 'mustard balls'.
The Forme of Cury contains some of the first English recipes for three pasta dishes: ravioli, lasagne and macaroni cheese.
The Forme of Cury is also the first English book to mention olive oil. An early salad recipe is listed: it includes parsley, sage, rosemary, garlic, mint, shallots, onions, fennel, and other herbs and vegetables, all shredded together in oil, vinegar and salt (indeed, the word salad derives from the Latin for 'salted').
Many of the recipes in The Forme of Cury haven't lasted. But the book did have one enduring legacy. That word 'cury', Middle English for 'cookery', would continue to be used by English traders travelling to the Far East, and would eventually be applied - at least according to one theory - to the spicy sauces used in Asian cooking. Which, so many language historians believe, is how we got the word 'curry'.
Editor's note: The Forme of Cury (The 'Method of Cooking', cury being from Middle French cuire: to cook) is an extensive collection of medieval English recipes from the 14th century. Originally in the form of a scroll, its authors are listed as "the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II". It is among the oldest English cookery books, and the first to mention olive oil, gourds, and spices such as mace and cloves.
'The Forme of Cury' contains the first known salmon recipe in an English cookbook - 'Viande Cypre of Samoun' translated as 'Salmon Meat Cyprus-style' - the ingredients of which comprise minced salmon with rice flour, sugar and spices:
VYANDE CYPRE OF SAMOUN  XX.IIII. XVIII.
Take Almandes and bray hem unblaunched. take calwar  Samoun and seeþ it in lewe water  drawe up þyn Almandes with the broth. pyke out the bones out of the fyssh clene & grynde it small & cast þy mylk & þat togyder & alye it with flour of Rys, do þerto powdour fort, sugur & salt & colour it with alkenet & loke þat hit be not stondyng and messe it forth.
 Samoun. Salmon.
 calwar. Salwar, No. 167. R. Holme says, "Calver is a term used to a Flounder when to be boiled in oil, vinegar, and spices and to be kept in it." But in Lancashire Salmon newly taken and immediately dressed is called Calver Salmon: and in Littleton Salar is a young salmon.
 lewe water. warm.
In the footnotes to these recipes compiled by Simon Pegge in 1780 he notes that "þ" ("thorn" and pronounced "th") being a "Saxon letter … is the ground of our present abbreviations ye the, y't that, y's this, &c. the y in these cases being evidently only an altered and more modern way of writing þ."
The other fish and fish-related recipes (48 in total) are as follows:
GYNGAWDRY . XX.IIII.XIIII.
Take the Powche  and the Lyuour  of haddok, codlyng and hake  and of ooþer fisshe, parboile hem, take hem and dyce hem small, take of the self broth and wyne, a layour of brede of galyntyne with gode powdours and salt, cast þat fysshe þerinne and boile it. & do þerto amydoun. & colour it grene.
 Gyngawdry. Qu.
 Powche. Crop or stomach.
 Lyuour. Liver. V. No. 137.
 Hake. "Asellus alter, sive Merlucius, Aldrov." So Mr. Ray. See Pennant, III. p. 156.
GELE  OF FYSSH. C. I.
Take Tenches, pykes , eelys, turbut and plays , kerue hem to pecys. scalde hem & waische hem clene. drye hem with a cloth do hem in a panne do þerto half vyneger & half wyne & seeþ it wel. & take the Fysshe and pike it clene, cole the broth thurgh a cloth into a erthen panne. do þerto powdour of pep and safroun ynowh. lat it seeþ and skym it wel whan it is ysode dof  grees clene, cowche fisshes on chargeours & cole the sewe thorow a cloth onoward & serue it forth.
 Gele. Jelly. Gelee, Contents here and in the next Recipe. Gely, Ms. Ed. No. 55, which presents us with much the same prescription.
 It is commonly thought this fish was not extant in England till the reign of H. VIII.; but see No. 107. 109. 114. So Lucys, or Tenchis, Ms. Ed. II 1. 3. Pygus or Tenchis, II. 2. Pikys, 33 Chaucer, v. Luce; and Lel. Coll. IV. p. 226. VI. p. 1. 5. Luce salt. Ibid. p. 6. Mr. Topham's Ms. written about 1230, mentions Lupos aquaticos five Luceas amongst the fish which the fishmonger was to have in his shop. They were the arms of the Lucy family so early as Edw. I. See also Pennant's Zool. III. p. 280, 410.
 Plays. Plaise, the fish.
 Dof, i. e. do of.
CHYSANNE . C. III.
Take Roches. hole Tenches and plays & sinyte hem to gobettes. fry hem in oyle blaunche almaundes. fry hem & cast wyne & of vyneger þer pridde part þ erwith fyges drawen & do þerto powdour fort and salt. boile it. lay the Fisshe in an erthen panne cast the sewe þerto. seeþ oynouns ymynced & cast þerinne. kepe hit and ete it colde.
 Chysanne. Qu.
CONGUR  IN SAWSE. C. IIII.
Take the Conger and scald hym. and smyte hym in pecys & seeþ hym. take parsel. mynt. peleter. rosmarye. & a litul sawge. brede and salt, powdour fort and a litel garlec, clower a lite, take and grynd it wel, drawe it up with vyneger thurgh a clot. cast the fyssh in a vessel and do þe sewe onoward & serue it forth.
 Congur. The Eel called Congre. Sawce, Contents here, and No. 105, 106.
RYGH  IN SAWSE. C. V.
Take Ryghzes and make hem clene and do hem to seeþ, pyke hem clene and frye hem in oile. take Almandes and grynde hem in water or wyne, do þerto almandes blaunched hole fryed in oile. & coraunce seeþ the lyour grynde it smale & do þerto garlec ygronde & litel salt & verious powdour fort & safroun & boile it yfere, lay the Fysshe in a vessel and cast the sewe þerto. and messe it forth colde.
 Rygh. A Fish, and probably the Ruffe.
MAKEREL IN SAWSE. C. VI.
Take Makerels and smyte hem on pecys. cast hem on water and various. seeþ hem with mynter and wiþ oother erbes, colour it grene or zelow, and messe it forth.
PYKES IN BRASEY . C. VII.
Take Pykes and undo hem on þe wombes  and waisshe hem clene and lay hem on a roost Irne  þenne take gode wyne and powdour gynger & sugur good wone  & salt, and boile it in an erthen panne & messe forth þe pyke & lay the sewe onoward.
 Brasey. Qu.
 Wombs. bellies.
 roost Irene. a roasting iron.
 good wone. a good deal. V. Gloss.
PORPEYS IN BROTH. C. VIII.
Make as þou madest Noumbles of Flesh with oynouns.
BALLOC  BROTH. C. IX.
Take Eelys and hilde  hem and kerue hem to pecys and do hem to seeþ in water and wyne so þat it be a litel ouer stepid . do þerto sawge and ooþer erbis with few  oynouns ymynced, whan the Eelis buth soden ynowz do hem in a vessel, take a pyke and kerue it to gobettes and seeþ hym in the same broth do þerto powdour gynger galyngale canel and peper, salt it and cast the Eelys þerto & messe it forth.
 Balloc. Ballok, Contents.
 hilde. skin.
 on stepid. steeped therein. V. No. 110.
 few, i.e. a few.
ELES IN BREWET. C. X.
Take Crustes of brede and wyne and make a lyour, do þerto oynouns ymynced, powdour. & canel. & a litel water and wyne. loke þat it be stepid, do þerto salt, kerue þin Eelis & seeþ hem wel and serue hem forth.
CAWDEL OF SAMOUN C.XI.
Take the guttes of Samoun and make hem clene. perboile hem a lytell. take hem up and dyce hem. slyt the white of Lekes and kerue hem smale. cole the broth and do the lekes þerinne with oile and lat it boile togyd yfere . do the Samoun icorne þerin, make a lyour of Almaundes mylke & of brede & cast þerto spices, safroun and salt, seeþ it wel. and loke þat it be not stondyng.
 togyd yfere. One of these should be struck out.
PLAYS IN CYEE. C.XII.
Take Plays and smyte hem  to pecys and fry hem in oyle. drawe a lyour of brede & gode broth & vyneger. and do þerto powdour gynger. canel. peper and salt and loke þat it be not stondyng.
 Vide No. 104. Qu.
FOR TO MAKE NOUMBLES IN LENT. C. XIIII.
Take the blode of pykes oþer of conger and nyme  the paunches of pykes. of conger and of grete code lyng , & boile hem tendre & mynce hem smale & do hem in þat blode. take crustes of white brede & strayne it thurgh a cloth. þenne take oynouns iboiled and mynced. take peper and safroun. wyne. vynegur aysell  oþer alegur & do þerto & serue forth.
 nyme. take. Perpetually used in Ms. Ed. from Sax. niman.
 code lyng. If a Codling be a small cod, as we now understand it, great codling seems a contradiction in terms.
 Aysell. Eisel, vinegar. Littleton.
FOR TO MAKE CHAWDON  FOR LENT. C. XV.
Take blode of gurnardes and congur & þe paunch of gurnardes and boile hem tendre & mynce hem smale, and make a lyre of white Crustes and oynouns ymynced, bray it in a morter & þanne boile it togyder til it be stondyng. þenne take vynegur oþ aysell & safroun & put it þerto and serue it forth.
 Chawdoun. V. Gloss.
FURMENTE WITH PORPEYS. C. XVI.
Take clene whete and bete it small in a morter and fanne out clene the doust, þenne waisthe it clene and boile it tyl it be tendre and broun. þanne take the secunde mylk of Almaundes & do þerto. boile hem togidur til it be stondyng, and take þe first mylke & alye it up wiþ a penne . take up the porpays out of the Furmente & leshe hem in a dishe with hoot water. & do safroun to þe furmente. and if the porpays be salt. seeþ it by hym self, and serue it forth.
 Penne. Feather, or pin. Ms. Ed. 28.
TENCHES IN CYNEE. XX.VI.
Take Tenches and smyte hem to pecys, fry hem, drawe a lyour of Raysouns coraunce witþ wyne and water, do þerto hool raisouns & powdour of gyngur of clowes of canel of peper do the Tenches þerto & seeþ hem with sugur cypre & salt. & messe forth.
OYSTERS IN GRAVEY. XX.VI. I.
Schyl  Oysters and seeþ hem in wyne and in hare  own broth. cole the broth thurgh a cloth. take almandes blaunched, grynde hem and drawe hem up with the self broth. & alye it wiþ flour of Rys. and do the oysters þerinne, cast in powdour of gyngur, sugur, macys. seeþ it not to stondyng and serue forth.
 shell, take of the shells.
 hare. their. her. No. 123. Chaucer.
MUSKELS  IN BREWET. XX.VI. II.
Take muskels, pyke hem, seeþ hem with the owne broth, make a lyour of crustes  & vynegur do in oynouns mynced. & cast the muskels þerto & seeþ it. & do þerto powdour with a lytel salt & safron the samewise make of oysters.
 Muskles. muskels below, and the Contents. Muscles.
 crustes. i.e. of bread.
OYSTERS IN CYNEE. XX.VI. III.
Take Oysters parboile hem in her owne broth, make a lyour of crustes of brede & drawe it up wiþ the broth and vynegur mynce oynouns & do þerto with erbes. & cast the oysters þerinne. boile it. & do þerto powdour fort & salt. & messe it forth.
CAWDEL OF MUSKELS. XX.VI. IIII.
Take and seeþ muskels, pyke hem clene, and waisshe hem clene in wyne. take almandes & bray hem. take somme of the muskels and grynde hem. & some hewe smale, drawe the muskels yground with the self broth. wryng the almaundes with faire water. do alle þise togider. do þerto verious and vyneger. take whyte of lekes & parboile hem wel. wryng oute the water and hewe hem smale. cast oile þerto with oynouns parboiled & mynced smale do þerto powdour fort, safroun and salt. a lytel seeþ it not to to  stondyng & messe it forth.
 to to, i. e. too too. Vide No. 17.
MORTREWS OF FYSSH. XX.VI. V.
Take codlyng, haddok, oþ hake and lynours with the rawnes  and seeþ it wel in water. pyke out þe bones, grynde smale the Fysshe, drawe a lyour of almaundes & brede with the self broth. and do the Fysshe grounden þerto. and seeþ it and do þerto powdour fort, safroun and salt, and make it stondyng.
 rawnes. roes.
LAUMPREYS IN GALYNTYNE. XX.VI. VI.
Take Laumpreys and sle  hem with vynegur oþer with white wyne & salt, scalde hem in water. slyt hem a litel at þer nauel…. & rest a litel at the nauel. take out the guttes at the ende. kepe wele the blode. put the Laumprey on a spyt. roost hym & kepe wel the grece. grynde raysouns of coraunce. hym up  with vyneger. wyne. and crustes of brede. do þerto powdour of gyngur. of galyngale . flour of canel. powdour of clowes, and do þerto raisouns of coraunce hoole. with þe blode & þe grece. seeþ it & salt it, boile it not to stondyng, take up the Laumprey do hym in a chargeour , & lay þe sewe onoward, & serue hym forth.
 sle. slay, kill.
 hym up. A word seems omitted; drawe or lye.
 of galyngale, i. e. powder. V. No. 101.
 Chargeour. charger or dish. V. No. 127.
LAUMPROUNS IN GALYNTYNE. XX.VI. VII.
Take Lamprouns and scalde hem. seeþ hem, meng powdour galyngale and some of the broth togyder & boile it & do þerto powdour of gyngur & salt. take the Laumprouns & boile hem & lay hem in dysshes. & lay the sewe above. & serue fort.
LOSEYNS  IN FYSSH DAY. XX.VI. VIII.
Take Almandes unblaunched and waisthe hem clene, drawe hem up with water. seeþ þe mylke & alye it up with loseyns. cast þerto safroun. sugur. & salt & messe it forth with colyandre in confyt rede, & serue it forth.
 Loseyns. Losyns, Contents.
SOBRE SAWSE. XX.VI. X.
Take Raysouns, grynde hem with crustes of brede; and drawe it up with wyne. do þerto gode powdours and salt. and seeþ it. fry roches, looches, sool, oþer ooþer gode Fyssh, cast þe sewe above, & serue it forth.
EGURDOUCE  OF FYSSHE. XX.VI.XIII.
Take Loches oþer Tenches oþer Solys smyte hem on pecys. fry hem in oyle. take half wyne half vynegur and sugur & make a siryp. do þerto oynouns icorue  raisouns coraunce. and grete raysouns. do þerto hole spices. gode powdours and salt. messe þe fyssh & lay þe sewe aboue and serue forth.
 Egurdouce. Vide Gloss.
 icorue, icorven. cut. V. Gloss.
CRUSTARDES OF FYSSHE. XX.VII. XVI.
Take loches, laumprouns, and Eelis. smyte hem on pecys, and stewe hem wiþ Almaund Mylke and verions, frye the loches in oile as tofore. and lay þe fissh þerinne. cast þeron powdour fort powdour douce. with raysons coraunce & prunes damysyns. take galyntyn and þe sewe þerinne, and swyng it togyder and cast in the trape. & bake it and serue it forth.
CRUSTARDES OF EERBIS  ON FYSSH DAY. XX.VII. XVII.
Take gode Eerbys and grynde hem smale with wallenotes pyked clene. a grete portioun. lye it up almost wiþ as myche verions as water. seeþ it wel with powdour and Safroun withoute Salt. make a crust in a trape and do þe fyssh þerinne unstewed wiþ a litel oile & gode Powdour. whan it is half ybake do þe sewe þerto & bake it up. If þou wilt make it clere of Fyssh seeþ ayrenn harde. & take out þe zolkes & grinde hem with gode powdours. and alye it up with gode stewes  and serue it forth.
 Erbis. Rather Erbis and Fissh.
 stewes. V. No. 170.
TART DE BRYMLENT . XX.VIII. VII.
Take Fyges & Raysouns. & waisshe hem in Wyne. and grinde hem smale with apples & peres clene ypiked. take hem up and cast hem in a pot wiþ wyne and sugur. take salwar Salmoun  ysode. oþer codlyng, oþer haddok, & bray hem smal. & do þerto white powdours & hool spices. & salt. and seeþ it. and whanne it is sode ynowz. take it up and do it in a vessel and lat it kele. make a Coffyn an ynche depe & do þe fars þerin. Plaunt it boue  with prunes and damysyns. take þe stones out, and wiþ dates quarte rede  dand piked clene. and couere the coffyn, and bake it wel, and serue it forth.
 Brymlent. Perhaps Midlent or High Lent. Bryme, in Cotgrave, is the midst of Winter. The fare is certainly lenten. A.S. [Anglo-Saxon: bryme]. Solennis, or beginning of Lent, from A.S. [Anglo-Saxon: brymm], ora, margo. Yet, after all, it may be a mistake for Prymlent.
 salwar Samoun. V. ad No. 98.
 plaunt it above. Stick it above, or on the top.
 quarte red. quartered.
TARTES OF FYSSHE. XX.VIII. X.
Take Eelys and Samoun and smyte hem on pecys. & stewe it  in almaund mylke and verious. drawe up on almaund mylk wiþ þe stewe. Pyke out the bones clene of þe fyssh. and save þe myddell pece hoole of þe Eelys & grinde þat ooþer fissh smale. and do þerto powdour, sugur, & salt and grated brede. & fors þe Eelys þerwith þerer as  þe bonys were medle þe ooþer dele of the fars & þe mylk togider. and colour it with saundres. make a crust in a trape as before. and bake it þerin and serue it forth.
 it. rather hem, i.e. them.
 þereras. where. V. No. 177.
CHEWETES ON FYSSH DAY. XX.IX.VI.
Take Turbut. haddok. Codlyng. and hake. and seeþ it. grynde it smale. and do þerto Dates. ygrounden. raysouns pynes. gode powdoer and salt. make a Coffyn as tofore saide. close þis þerin. and frye it in oile. oþer stue it in gyngur. sugur. oþer in wyne. oþer bake it. & serue forth.
I. FOR TO MAKE EGARDUSE .
Tak Lucys  or Tenchis and hak hem smal in gobette and fry hem in oyle de olive and syth nym vineger and the thredde party of sugur and myncyd onyons smal and boyle al togedere and cast thereyn clowys macys and quibibz and serve yt forthe.
 See No. 21 below, and part I. No. 50.
 Lucy, I presume, means the Pike; so that this fish was known here long before the reign of H. VIII. though it is commonly thought otherwise. V. Gloss.
II. FOR TO MAKE RAPY .
Tak pyg' or Tenchis or other maner fresch fysch and fry yt wyth oyle de olive and syth nym the crustys of wyt bred and canel and bray yt al wel in a mortere and temper yt up wyth god wyn and cole  yt thorw an hersyve and that yt be al cole  of canel and boyle yt and cast therein hole clowys and macys and quibibz and do the fysch in dischis and rape  abovyn and dresse yt forthe.
 Vide No. 49.
 Strain, from Lat. colo.
 Strained, or cleared.
 This Rape is what the dish takes its name from. Perhaps means grape from the French raper. Vide No. 28.
III. FOR TO MAKE FYGEY.
Nym Lucys or tenchis and hak hem in morsell' and fry hem tak vyneger and the thredde party of sugur myncy onyons smal and boyle al togedyr cast ther'yn macis clowys quibibz and serve yt forth.
VII. FOR TO MAKE BLOMANGER  OF FYSCH.
Tak a pound of rys les hem wel and wasch and seth tyl they breste and lat hem kele and do ther'to mylk of to pound of Almandys nym the Perche or the Lopuster and boyle yt and kest sugur and salt also ther'to and serve yt forth.
 See note on No. 14. of Part I.
IX. FOR TO MAKE LAMPREY FRESCH IN GALENTYNE .
Schal be latyn blod atte Navel and schald yt and rost yt and ley yt al hole up on a Plater and zyf hym forth wyth Galentyn that be mad of Galyngale gyngener and canel and dresse yt forth.
 This is a made or compounded thing. See both here, and in the next Number, and v. Gloss.
X. FOR TO MAKE SALT LAMPREY IN GALENTYNE .
Yt schal be stoppit  over nyzt in lews water and in braan and flowe and sodyn and pyl onyons and seth hem and ley hem al hol by the Lomprey and zif hem forthe wyth galentyne makyth  wyth strong vyneger and wyth paryng of wyt bred and boyle it al togeder' and serve yt forthe.
 See note  on the last Number.
 Perhaps, steppit, i.e. steeped. See No. 12.
 Perhaps, makyd, i.e. made.
XI. FOR TO MAKE LAMPREYS IN BRUET.
They schulle be schaldyd and ysode and ybrulyd upon a gredern and grynd peper and safroun and do ther'to and boyle it and do the Lomprey ther'yn and serve yt forth.
XIII. FOR TO MAKE SOLYS IN BRUET.
They schal be fleyn and sodyn and rostyd upon a gredern and grynd Peper and Safroun and ale boyle it wel and do the sole in a plater and the bruet above serve it forth.
XIV. FOR TO MAKE OYSTRYN IN BRUET.
They schul be schallyd  and ysod in clene water grynd peper safroun bred and ale and temper it wyth Broth do the Oystryn ther'ynne and boyle it and salt it and serve it forth.
 Have shells taken off.
XV. FOR TO MAKE ELYS IN BRUET.
They schul be flayn and ket in gobett' and sodyn and grynd peper and safroun other myntys and persele and bred and ale and temper it wyth the broth and boyle it and serve it forth.
XVI. FOR TO MAKE A LOPISTER.
He schal be rostyd in his scalys in a ovyn other by the Feer under a panne and etyn wyth Veneger.
XXV. FOR TO MAKE TARTYS OF FYSCH OWT OF LENTE.
Mak the Cowche of fat chese and gyngener and Canel and pur' crym of mylk of a Kow and of Helys ysodyn and grynd hem wel wyth Safroun and mak the chowche of Canel and of Clowys and of Rys and of gode Spycys as other Tartys fallyth to be.
XXVIII. FOR TO MAKE RAPEE .
Tak the Crustys of wyt bred and reysons and bray hem wel in a morter and after temper hem up wyth wyn and wryng hem thorw a cloth and do ther'to Canel that yt be al colouryt of canel and do ther'to hole clowys macys and quibibz the fysch schal be Lucys other Tenchis fryid or other maner Fysch so that yt be fresch and wel yfryed and do yt in Dischis and that rape up on and serve yt forth.
 Vide Part I. No. 49.
XXVIII. FOR TO MAKE RAPEE .
Tak the Crustys of wyt bred and reysons and bray hem wel in a morter and after temper hem up wyth wyn and wryng hem thorw a cloth and do ther'to Canel that yt be al colouryt of canel and do ther'to hole clowys macys and quibibz the fysch schal be Lucys other Tenchis fryid or other maner Fysch so that yt be fresch and wel yfryed and do yt in Dischis and that rape up on and serve yt forth.
 Vide Part I. No. 49.
XXX. FOR TO MAKE FORMENTY ON A FICHSSDAY .
Tak the mylk of the Hasel Notis boyl the wete  wyth the aftermelk til it be dryyd and tak and coloured  yt wyth Safroun and the ferst mylk cast ther'to and boyle wel and serve yt forth.
 Perhaps, colour.
XXXIII. FOR TO MAKE A BALOURGLY  BROTH.
Tak Pikys and spred hem abord and Helys zif thou hast fle hem and ket hem in gobettys and seth hem in alf wyn  and half in water. Tak up the Pykys and Elys and hold hem hote and draw the Broth thorwe a Clothe do Powder of Gyngener Peper and Galyngale and Canel into the Broth and boyle yt and do yt on the Pykys and on the Elys and serve yt forth.
 This is so uncertain in the original, that I can only guess at it.
 Perhaps, alf in wyn, or dele in before water.
And now newlye enlarged with the serving in of the Table
With the proper Sauces to each of them convenient
Printed by Edward Allde. 1591
(originally published 1584)
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A Pudding in a Tench
Take your Tench and drawe it very cleane, and cut it not overlowe. Then take beets boiled, or Spinage, and choppe it with yolks of hard Egges, Corance, grated Bread, salt, Pepper, Sugar and Sinamon, and yolks of raw Egges, and mingle it togither, and put it in the Tenches bellye, then put it in a platter with faire water and sweet butter, and turn it in the Platter, and set it in the Oven, and when it is inough, serve it in with sippits and poure the licour that it was boiled in upon it.
To seethe a Pike
Scoure your Pike with bay Salte, and then open him on the back, faire washe him, and then cast a little white Salte upon him. Set on faire water wel seasoned with Salte. When this licoour seetheth, then put in your Pike and fair scum it, then take the best of the broth when it is sodden, and put it in a little Chafer or Pipkin, and put therto parcely and a little Time, Rosemary, whole Mace, good Yest, and half as much Vergious as you have licour, and boile them togither, and put in the Liver of the Pike, and the kell, being clean scaled and washed, and let them boyle well, then season your broth with pepper groce beaten, with salt not too much, because your licour is Salte that your Pike is boyled in, put therein a good peece of sweete Butter, and season it with a little Sugar that it be neither tooo sharpen nor too sweet. So take up your pike and laye it upon Sops the skinny side upward, and so lay your broth upon it.
A Pike sauce for a Pike, Bream, Perch, roch, Carp, Flounders, and all manner of Brooke fish
Take a posie of Rosemary and Time, and binde them together, and put in also a quantity of Parcelye not bound, and put it into a Cauldron of water, salte, and Yest, and the hearbes, and let them boyle a prettie while, then put in the Fishe, and a good quantitie of Butter, and let them boyle a good while, and you shall have your Pyke Sauce. For all these Fishes above written if they must be broyled: take sauce for them, Butter, Pepper and Vinagre, and boyle it upon a chafing dish, and then lay the broyled fish upon the dish, but for Eeles and fresh Salmon nothing but pepper and Vinagre over-boyled, and also if you will frye them, you must take a good quantity of Percely, after the Fish is fryed, put in the percelye into the Frying pan, and let it frye in the butter, then take it up and put it on the fryed Fish, as fryed Plaice, Whiting, and such other fish, except Eeles, fresh Salmon and Cunger, which be never fried, but baked, broiled, roasted and sodden.
How to seeth a Carpe
Cut the throat of your Carp, & save the blood in a saucer, and take your Carpe and scoure him with Salt, take out the gal and the Guts, and leave the Liver and the fat in the belly of the Carp, set on your licour, water and Salt to seeth him, and when your licour seethes, put in your carp or ever he be dead, and take good heede for springing out of the Pan, for it is ever good to seethe fish quick, for it maketh the fish to eat hard. Take the best of the broth and a little red Wine, good store of Vergious, new yest, with the blood of the Carp strained, and so put it in a Pipkin with Corance, whole Pepper, and boyle them altogither, put therto half a dish of sweet butter, and a little time, and Barberies if you have them, and when they be well boyled, season it not too sweet nor too sharpe, and then poure it upon your Carpe.
To seeth Roches, Flounders, or Eeles
Make ye good broth with new yest, put therin vergious, salt, percely, a little Time, and not much rosemary and pepper, so set it upon the fire and boile it, and when it is well boyled put in the Roches, Flounders, Eeles and a little sweet butter.
To seeth a Gurnard
Open your Gurnard in the back, and faire wash and seeth it in water & Salt, with the fishy side upward, and when it is well sod, take some of the best of the broth if you will, or els a little fair water, and put to it new yest, a little vergious, percely, rosemary, a little time, a peece of sweet butter, and whole Mace, and let it boyle in a pipkin by it self till it be well boyled, and then when you serve in your Gurnard, poure the same broth upon it.
To seeth a Dory or Mullet
Make your broth light with yest, somewhat savery with salt, and put therin a little Rosemary, and when it seethes put in your fish and let it seeth very softly, take faire water and vergious a like much, and put therto a little new Yest, corance, whole pepper and a little Mace, and Dates shred very fine, and boyle them wel togither, and when they be well boyled, take the best of your broth that your fish is sodden in, and put to it strawberyes, gooseberyes, or barberyes, sweet Butter, some Sugar, and so season up your broth, and poure upon your Dorry or Mullet.
To seeth Turbut or Cunger
Set on water and salt, and season it wel, if the Turbut be great quarter him into foure quarters, if he be small, cut him but in halfe, if it be a Burt, seethe it whole after this sort. When your licour doth seeth, put in your fish and let it seeth very softly till it be sodden enough, and when it is sodden, take it not up till the licour be colde. Then take halfe white Wine, with Vinagre and the broth that it was sodden in, and lay the fish in it to souce, Cungar, Sturgion, and all Fish that is to be souced, in like manner saving you must seethe your Sturgion in water and Salte, and souce it with white Wine.
How to seeth Shrimps
Take halfe water and halfe beere or Ale, and some salt good and savery, and set it on the fire and faire scum it, and when it seetheth a full wallop, put in your Shrimpes faire washed, and seethe them with a quick fire, scum them very clean, and let them have but two walmes, then take them up with a scummer, and lay them upon a fair white cloth, and sprinkle a little white salt upon them.
To make Florentines with Eeles for Fish dayes
Take great Eeles, fleye them and perboyle them a little, then take the fishe from the bones, and mince it small with some Wardens amongst it to make it to mince small, and season it with cloves and mace, pepper, Corance and Dates, and when you lay it into your paste, take a little fine Sugar and lay it upon before you cover it, and when it is halfe baked or altogither, laye a peece of sweet Butter upon cover, and a little rosewater and sugar. After the same manner, minced pyes of Eeles.
How to bake Eeles whole
When they be fleyed & clean washed, season them with vergious, pepper, and salt, Cloves and mace, and put to them corance, great Raisins and Prunes, sweete butter and Vergious.
To bake Lamprons
Faire scoure them or fleye them, and season them with pepper and Salt, and put to them some onions, vergious, butter and Oisters.
How to bake Lamprons fine
Put to them small Raisins and Onyons minced very fine, and dates minced fine, a little whole Mace, some Prunes, if you will butter and vergious.
How to bake a Lamprey
When you have fleied and washed it clean, season it with Pepper, and salt, and make a light Gallandine and put to it good store of butter, and after this sort you must make your gallandine. Take white bread tostes and lay them in steep in Claret wine, or else in vergious, & so strain them with vinagre, and make it somewhat thin, and put sugar, Sinamon and ginger, and boyle it on a Chafing dish of coles, this Galandine being not too thicke, put it into your pye of Lampreye, and after this sort shall you bake Porpos or Puffins.
To bake Carp, Bream, Mullet, Pike, Trout, Roche or any other kinde of Fish
Season them with Cloves and Mace, and pepper, and bake them with smal raisins, sweete butter and Vergious, great raisins, and some prunes.
How to bake a Holybut head
First water it till it be fresh then cut it in small peeces like Culpines of an Eele, and season it with pepper & Saffron, cloves and mace, small raisins & great, and meddle al these wel togither, and also put therto a good messe of vergious, and so bake the same Fish.
How to bake Cunger
Season it with pepper and salt and make your pies but even meet for one gubbin, and put to it sweet butter, & let it not drye.
To bake a Stockfish
Season your Stockfish with pepper & salt and lay it into the paste, and put good store of butter to it, and shred onions small, and percely, and cast it upon the stockfish, & put a little vergious unto it, and bake it.
How to bake watered Herrings
Let your Herrings be wel watered, and season them with Pepper and a little Cloves and mace, and put unto them minced Onions, great raisins and small, a little sweet butter, and a little sugar, and so bake them.
To make Allowes of Eeles
Take and splat an Eele by the back, and keepe the belly whole, and so take out the bone, then take onions, percely, Time, and Rosemary chopped together, and put therto pepper and salt, and a little Saffron, and so lay it upon the Eeles, and then wrap it up in Culpines, and put them upon a spit and so roast them.
To make a Fricase of a good Haddock or Whiting
First seeth the fish and scum it, and pick out the bones, take Onions and chop them small then fry them in Butter or Oyle till they be enough, and put in your Fish, and frye them till it be drye, that doon: serve it forth with pouder of Ginger on it.
To fry Whitings
First flay them and wash them clean and scale them, that doon, lap them in floure and fry them in Butter and oyle. Then to serve them, mince apples or onions and fry them, then put them into a vessel with white wine, vergious, salt, pepper, cloves & mace, and boile them togither on the Coles, and serve it upon the Whitings.
To fry a Codshead
First cleve it in peeces and washe it clean and fry it in Butter or Oyle. Then cut Onions in rundels and so frye them, that doon put them in a vessell, and put to them red wine or vinagre, salt, ginger, sinamon, cloves & mace, and boile all these well togither, and then serve it upon your cods head.
"American Cookery: or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plumb to plain cake. Adapted to this country, and all grades of life" (1796) Amelia Simmons
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As this treatise is calculated for the improvement of the rising generation of females in America, the lady of fashion and fortune will not be displeased, if many hints are suggested for the more general and universal knowledge of those females in this country, who by the loss of their parents, or other unfortunate circumstances, are reduced to the necessity of going into families in the line of domestics, or taking refuge with their friends or relations, and doing those things which are really essential to the perfecting them as good wives, and useful members of society. The orphan, tho' left to the care of virtuous guardians, will find it essentially necessary to have an opinion and determination of her own. The world, and the fashion thereof, is so variable, that old people cannot accommodate themselves to the various changes and fashions which daily occur; they will adhere to the fashion of their day, and will not surrender their attachments to the good old way while the young and the gay, bend and conform readily to the taste of the times, and fancy of the hour.
By having an opinion and determination, I would not be understood to mean an obstinate perseverance in trifles, which borders on obstinacy - by no means, but only an adherence to those rules and maxims which have flood the test of ages, and will forever establish the "female character", a virtuous character - altho' they conform to the ruling taste of the age in cookery, dress, language, manners, &c.
It must ever remain a check upon the poor solitary orphan, that while those females who have parents, or brothers, or riches, to defend their indiscretions, that the orphan must depend solely upon "character". How immensely important, therefore, that every action, every word, every thought, be regulated by the strictest purity, and that every movement meet the approbation of the good and wise.
The candour of the American Ladies is solicitously intreated by the Authoress, as she is circumscribed in her knowledge, this being an original work in this country. Should any future editions appear, she hopes to render it more valuable.
Directions for catering, or the procuring the best viands, fish, &c.
Fish, how to choose the best in market
Salmon, the noblest and richest fish taken in fresh water - the largest are the best. They are unlike almost every other fish, are ameliorated by being 3 or 4 days out of water, if kept from heat and the moon, which has much more injurious effect than the sun.
In all great fish-markets, great fish-mongers strictly examine the gills - if the bright redness is exchanged for a low brown, they are stale; but when live fish are brought flouncing into market, you have only to elect the kind most agreeable to your palate and the season.
Shad, contrary to the generally received opinion are not so much richer flavoured, as they are harder when first taken out of the water; opinions vary respecting them. I have tasted Shad thirty or forty miles from the place where caught, and really conceived that they had a richness of flavour, which did not appertain to those taken fresh and cooked immediately, and have proved both at the same table, and the truth may rest here, that a Shad 36 or 48 hours out of water, may not cook so hard and solid, and be esteemed so elegant, yet give a higher relished flavour to the taste.
Every species generally of salt water fish are best fresh from the water, tho' the Hannah Hill, Black Fish, Lobster, Oyster, Flounder, Bass, Cod, Haddock, and Eel, with many others, may be transported by land many miles, find a good market, and retain a good relish; but as generally, live ones are bought first, deceits are used to give them a freshness of appearance, such as peppering the gills, wetting the fins and tails, and even painting the gills, or wetting with animal blood. Experience and attention will dictate the choice of the best. Fresh gills, full bright eyes, moist fins and tails, are denotements of their being fresh caught; if they are soft, its certain they are stale, but if deceits are used, your smell must approve or denounce them, and be your safest guide.
Of all fresh water fish, there are none that require, or so well afford haste in cookery, as the Salmon Trout, they are best when caught under a fall or cateract - from what philosophical circumstance is yet unsettled, yet true it is, that at the foot of a fall the waters are much colder than at the head; Trout choose those waters; if taken from them and hurried into dress, they are genuinely good; and take rank in point of superiority of flavour, of most other fish.
Perch and Roach, are noble pan fish, the deeper the water from whence taken, the finer are their flavours; if taken from shallow water, with muddy bottoms, they are impregnated therewith, and are unsavoury.
Eels, though taken from muddy bottoms, are best to jump in the pan.
Most white or soft fish are best bloated, which is done by salting, peppering, and drying in the sun, and in a chimney; after 30 or 40 hours drying, are best broiled, and moistened with butter, &c.
For dressing Codfish
Put the fish first into cold water and wash it, then hang it over the fire and soak it six hours in scalding water, then shift it into clean warm water, and let it scald for one hour, it will be much better than to boil.
"The American Frugal Housewife: dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy" (1832) Lydia Maria Child at sections 58, 59, 60, 84 & 121
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"Economy is a poor man's revenue; extravagance a rich man's ruin."
The true economy of housekeeping is simply the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost. I mean fragments of time, as well as materials. Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it, however trifling that use may be; and whatever be the size of a family, every member should be employed either in earning or saving money …
… The sooner children are taught to turn their faculties to some account, the better for them and for their parents …
In this country, we are apt to let children romp away their existence, till they get to be thirteen or fourteen. This is not well. It is not well for the purses and patience of parents; and it has a still worse effect on the morals and habits of the children. Begin early is the great maxim for everything in education. A child of six years old can be made useful; and should be taught to consider every day lost in which some little thing has not been done to assist others.
Children can very early be taught to take all the care of their own clothes.
They can knit garters, suspenders, and stockings; they can make patchwork and braid straw; they can make mats for the table, and mats for the floor; they can weed the garden, and pick cranberries from the meadow, to be carried to market.
Provided brothers and sisters go together, and are not allowed to go with bad children, it is a great deal better for the boys and girls on a farm to be picking blackberries at six cents a quart, than to be wearing out their clothes in useless play. They enjoy themselves just as well; and they are earning something to buy clothes, at the same time they are tearing them …
Cod has white stripes, and a haddock black stripes; they may be known apart by this. Haddock is the best for frying; and cod is the best for boiling, or for a chowder. A thin tail is a sign of a poor fish; always choose a thick fish. When you are buying mackerel, pinch the belly to ascertain whether it is good. If it gives under your finger, like a bladder half filled with wind, the fish is poor; if it feels hard like butter, the fish is good. It is cheaper to buy one large mackerel for nine pence, than two for four pence half-penny each.
Fish should not be put in to fry until the fat is boiling hot; it is very necessary to observe this. It should be dipped in Indian meal before it is put in; and the skinny side uppermost, when first put in, to prevent its breaking. It relishes better to be fried after salt pork, than to be fried in lard alone. People are mistaken, who think fresh fish should be put into cold water as soon as it is brought into the house; soaking it in water is injurious. If you want to keep it sweet, clean it, wash it, wipe it dry with a clean towel, sprinkle salt inside and out, put it in a covered dish, and keep it on the cellar floor until you want to cook it. If you live remote from the seaport, and cannot get fish while hard and fresh, wet it with an egg beaten, before you meal it, to prevent its breaking.
Fish gravy is very much improved by taking out some of the fat, after the fish is fried, and putting in a little butter. The fat thus taken out will do to fry fish again; but it will not do for any kind of shortening. Shake in a little flour into the hot fat, and pour in a little boiling water; stir it up well, as it boils, a minute or so. Some people put in vinegar; but this is easily added by those who like it.
A common sized cod-fish should be put in when the water is boiling hot, and boil about twenty minutes. Haddock is not as good for boiling as cod; it takes about the same time to boil.
A piece of halibut which weighs four pounds is a large dinner for a family of six or seven. It should boil forty minutes. No fish put in till the water boils. Melted butter for sauce.
Clams should boil about fifteen minutes in their own water; no other need be added, except a spoonful to keep the bottom shells from burning. It is easy to tell when they are done, by the shells starting wide open. After they are done, they should be taken from the shells, washed thoroughly in their own water, and put in a stewing pan. The water should then be strained through a cloth, so as to get out all the grit; the clams should be simmered in it ten or fifteen minutes; a little thickening of flour and water added; half a dozen slices of toasted bread or cracker; and pepper, vinegar and butter to your taste. Salt is not needed.
Four pounds of fish are enough to make a chowder for four or five people; half a dozen slices of salt pork in the bottom of the pot; hang it high, so that the pork may not burn; take it out when done very brown; put in a layer of fish, cut in lengthwise slices, then a layer formed of crackers, small or sliced onions, and potatoes sliced as thin as a four-pence, mixed with pieces of pork you have fried; then a layer of fish again, and so on. Six crackers are enough. Strew a little salt and pepper over each layer; over the whole pour a bowl-full of flour and water, enough to come up even with the surface of what you have in the pot. A sliced lemon adds to the flavour. A cup of tomato catsup is very excellent. Some people put in a cup of beer. A few clams are a pleasant addition. It should be covered so as not to let a particle of steam escape, if possible. Do not open it, except when nearly done, to taste if it be well seasoned.
Salt fish should be put in a deep plate, with just water enough to cover it, the night before you intend to cook it. It should not be boiled an instant; boiling renders it hard. It should lie in scalding hot water two or three hours. The less water is used, and the more fish is cooked at once, the better. Water thickened with flour and water while boiling, with sweet butter put in to melt, is the common sauce. It is more economical to cut salt pork into small bits, and try it till the pork is brown and crispy. It should not be done too fast, lest the sweetness be scorched out.
Salted shad and mackerel should be put into a deep plate and covered with boiling water for about ten minutes after it is thoroughly broiled, before it is buttered. This makes it tender, takes off the coat of salt, and prevents the strong oily taste, so apt to be unpleasant in preserved fish. The same rule applies to smoked salmon.
Salt fish mashed with potatoes, with good butter or pork scraps to moisten it, is nicer the second day than it was the first. The fish should be minced very fine, while it is warm. After it has got cold and dry, it is difficult to do it nicely. Salt fish needs plenty of vegetables, such as onions, beets, carrots, &c.
There is no way of preparing salt fish for breakfast, so nice as to roll it up in little balls, after it is mixed with mashed potatoes; dip it into an egg, and fry it brown.
A female lobster is not considered so good as a male. In the female, the sides of the head, or what look like cheeks, are much larger, and jut out more than those of the male. The end of a lobster is surrounded with what children call 'purses,' edged with a little fringe. If you put your hand under these to raise it, and find it springs back hard and firm, it is a sign the lobster is fresh; if they move flabbily, it is not a good omen.
Fried salt pork and apples is a favourite dish in the country; but it is seldom seen in the city. After the pork is fried, some of the fat should be taken out, lest the apples should be oily. Acid apples should be chosen, because they cook more easily; they should be cut in slices, across the whole apple, about twice or three times as thick as a new dollar. Fried till tender, and brown on both sides - laid around the pork. If you have cold potatoes, slice them and brown them in the same way.
When walnuts are so ripe that a pin will go into them easily, they are ready for pickling. They should be soaked twelve days in very strong cold salt and water, which has been boiled and skimmed. A quantity of vinegar, enough to cover them well, should be boiled with whole pepper, mustard-seed, small onions, or garlic, cloves, ginger, and horseradish; this should not be poured upon them till it is cold. They should be pickled a few months before they are eaten. To be kept close covered; for the air softens them. The liquor is an excellent catsup to be eaten on fish.
Vegetable Oyster. This vegetable is something like a parsnip; is planted about the same time, ripens about the same time, and requires about the same cooking. It is said to taste very much like real oysters. It is cut in pieces, after being boiled, dipped in batter, and fried in the same way. It is excellent mixed with minced salt fish.
"Fish, How to Choose and How to Dress" (1843) William Hughes "Piscator" at pages 1 to 9
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Chapter I, Introductory Remarks, page 1
Chapter II, Directions for choosing fish, with observations upon their respective qualities; Fishes of the cod kind, page 10
Section II, Eels and lampreys, page 36
Section III, Fishes of the perch kind, and mullets both red and grey, also the sea bream and its varieties, page 47
Section IV, Of the wrasses, page 67
Section V, Gurnards, page 70
Section VI, Fishes of the carp kind, page 74
Section VII, Pikes and launces, page 87
Section VIII, Fishes of the mackerel kind, page 94
Section IX, Fishes of the herring kind, page 101
Section X, Fishes of the salmon kind, page 107
Section XI, Dories, page 117
Section XII, Fishes of the turbot and flounder kind, page 122
Section XIII, Fishes of the skate kind, page 134
Section XIV, Stragglers, or a few of all sorts, page 140
Section XV, How to choose salt fish, page 145
Section XVI, How to choose shell fish, page 149
CHAPTER III, How to clean and preserve fish, page 155
Section I, How to clean fish, page 155
Section II, How to cure fish, page 166
CHAPTER IV, On the cookery of fish, page 171
Section I, How to boil fish, page 174
Section II, How to fry fish, page 189
Section III, How to broil fish, page 214
Section IV, How to stew fish, page 220
Section V, How to curry fish, page 235
Section VI, How to roast and bake fish, page 237
Section VII, Fish pies and patties, page 248
Section VIII, How to dress shell fish, page 254
Section IX, Sauces for fish, page 267
Section X, Potting and pickling fish, page 272
The object of writing the present work is to bring every kind of fish that is to he found in our waters and adapted for the food of man before the notice of the public. This, we must confess, is a task we could wish had been undertaken by abler hands, embracing, as it does, a subject that has been hut partially treated on by the numerous, as well as talented writers who have from time to time favoured us with their useful commentaries on the art of cookery. As a proof of the limited extent to which this important subject has been restricted, we find, even in the most celebrated cookery books, that out of upwards of one hundred and seventy distinct species of good and wholesome fishes with which our markets are supplied, scarcely one fourth part are mentioned even byname: a very multitude of fishes, all excellent in their way at their proper times and seasons are altogether omitted, whilst several that are highly esteemed, and so common as to he easily attainable - all capable of being cooked in a variety of ways, each furnishing a dish the most fastidious epicure could not forbear to praise - are merely glossed over as unworthy of further notice.
In no less than six justly esteemed works on the subject, we have searched in vain for some remarks upon the merits of that most delicious of fishes, the john dory, but whose name we can find no-where mentioned: whilst the mighty ling - the largest and in our humble opinion the best of the whole cod tribe - is only alluded to as "a dried salt fish" not one word being said about its edible qualities when fresh, though few fish are capable of being cooked in a greater variety of modes, or can be compared to a fresh ling in flavour in any one of them.
But it is not our intention to assail the able writers on the art of cookery for their omissions in the fish department; our sole object is to try as far as lies within our power and ability to supply them, and to furnish our readers with a sufficient stock of information to enable them to select, as also to prepare for the table, a most delicious as well as wholesome article of food, and one which now through the medium of our extensive railway communications, might with good management, and at no great expense, be distributed throughout the whole length and breadth of the land; by which means not only would the labouring and poorer classes receive a valuable augmentation to their humble fare at a cheap rate, but our fisheries - so important to us as a naval power, affording, as they do, the best nursery for seamen - would receive additional vigour by an increased demand for the produce of the hardy and industrious fishermen, which have been but too often found to lie almost as a dreg upon their hands, when supplied in great quantities; and thus oftentimes a valuable article of food is cast away to rot upon a dung-heap, that might have administered to the wants and comforts of hundreds of our starving fellow countrymen.
Much indeed then is it to be wished that the fish taken on our coasts could be better distributed throughout the country, and that all would lend their assistance to promote so desirable an end; for if there was only a demand, the supply, we are convinced, would not be long wanting - we are aware that there will be some prejudices to overcome, before the consumption will be so general as it ought to be, particularly among the humbler classes, who are very averse to vary their usual fare, whilst we all of us, rich as well as poor, are apt to think too lightly of those benefits that Providence bestows upon us with the most liberal hand: and thus it is, that many most excellent fishes are rejected by the more opulent classes, and are unthankfully eaten by the poor, for no other cause than the extreme ease and abundance with which the commodity can be supplied. This has been remarkably exemplified in the poor despised hake, which, until very recently, was never admitted to tables of the wealthy; though now its merits have begun to be more duly appreciated, and this fish, which formerly for its mere cheapness and plenty was scorned even by the poor, we have latterly had the gratification to see gracing the tables of some of the aristocracy of the land.
This, among many instances, far too numerous to mention, convinces us how desirable it is that the qualities of all our fishes should be more generally known, as also their proper times and seasons; and the criterions by which, not only they may be distinguished from, inferior kinds they closely resemble; but also such particular appearances as will denote with certainty the freshness and state and condition of the article. A knowledge of all these points must ever be of the greatest importance to the caterer of a family - one of the great causes why fish is not a more favorable article of diet, is owing to persons having partaken of it either when out of season, or from its being in a partial state of decomposition, from being too long or carelessly kept. The Salmon, which is justly styled the king of fishes, and entitled to vie if not surpass any of the scaly race when in its proper season, is one of the most disagreeable and unwholesome when out of condition - and when eaten stale is little better than poison. What indeed can be more delicious than a perfectly fresh mackerel, or more disgusting than one in the slightest degree tainted ? And the same observations are applicable to every other kind of fish we may chance to meet with; and which from their perishable nature, require the greatest care and attention to keep them in a sound state, even for a short space of time.
Here then arises another important point, viz. a knowledge of the different modes in which each different species may be best preserved, as well as cooked to the greatest possible advantage. Few fish, indeed, except in frosty weather, can be kept good for above two or three days, at the utmost, without the assistance of salt or some other artificial aid. Some indeed in warm weather become tainted even in the course of a single day after they are taken out of the water, though in many this may be prevented to a considerable extent, by removing the intestines within an hour or two after they are caught. This occurs particularly in the smaller species of the cod tribe; such as the whiting, or whiting-pout, as also in the haddock; as the livers of all these fishes contain a great quantity of oil, which in warm weather quickly imparts a rancid and disagreeable taste to the whole fish. Many other fishes also, that will be noticed hereafter, may be kept good a considerable time, particularly in moderate weather, after being gutted, which, if omitted, will cause the fish to become tainted in less than one half the time it would have done, had this necessary precaution been adopted.
Again, some fish that are excellent when salted and dried - as the torsk; or, even when only slightly powdered with salt for a day or two previously to their being dressed, as a whiting pollack for instance - are both watery, soft and insipid when cooked perfectly fresh; whilst in others the salt produces so contrary an effect as to extract every kind of flavour but its own ; or what is worse, imparts a rank and disagreeable taste, as it almost invariably does when applied in any considerable quantity for the purpose of preserving soles, and most other species of flat fish, for any length of time. Some particular kinds of fishes, as mackerel, herrings, or pilchards, cannot possibly be brought to table too soon after being taken from their native element; on which account it falls to the lot of but very few to partake of either of these kinds of fishes in their greatest perfection: this occurs more particularly with pilchards than any kind of fish whatever, as they acquire an oily taste in the course of a few hours after death, which, though some may admire, is very different from the fine curdy flavour they possess when just taken from the nets. In others again, as in all the scate tribe, there is a rank taste that is far more perceptible than pleasing, when they are dressed on the same day on which they are caught, yet, which wholly vanishes, if they are hung up in a cool place for a day or two.
Much also depends upon knowing in what way each particular fish may be cooked, so as to make its appearance to the greatest advantage; many there are that are unpalatable when dressed in one particular way, that are equally good if another mode of cookery he adopted - a stewed carp affords a really splendid dish; a boiled carp one of the worst that can be brought to table - the merits of a surmullet broiled, baked or fried, enveloped in white paper, with its liver for sauce, are too well known to require any comment from us, and yet, when simply boiled and gutted as you would a whiting, is a sad woolly and insipid affair; and the same observations hold equally in the case of a variety of other fishes we purpose fully treating of hereafter in their proper place.
With these preliminary remarks we shall at once proceed to our subject. First, by endeavouring to supply such practical directions as may afford the best assistance to enable our readers to distinguish the different kinds of fishes, with a few remarks on their respective merits as we proceed. The proper times and seasons, and the best criterions by which a sound and healthy condition may be most easily discovered - will then be discussed.
An attempt will next be made to point out the best modes of treatment for preserving fish, either for along or short period - as the exigency of the case may require - and the various modes by which this may be effected - and last of all, to furnish all the information we can collect, as to the various modes by which each individual species may appear at table in the most favourable point of view, as well as the different sauces with which they should be accompanied; a subject by no means to be passed lightly over, and which no pains shall be wanting on our part to lay fairly before our readers.
"Modern Cookery for Private Families" reduced to a system of easy practice in a series of carefully tested receipts in which the principles of Baron Liebig and other eminent writers have been as much as possible applied and explained (1845) Eliza Acton
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Vocabulary of Terms at pages xiii and xiv
Court Bouillon - the preparation of vegetables and wine, in which (in expensive cookery) fish is boiled.
Matelote - a rich and expensive stew of fish with wine, generally of carp, eels, or trout.
CHAPTER II Fish To choose Fish 48 Baked Whitings à la Française 68 To clean Fish 50 To boil Mackerel (and when in season) 69 To keep Fish 51 To bake Mackerel 69 To sweeten tainted Fish 51 Baked Mackerel or Whitings (Cinderella's receipt. Good) 70 The mode of cooking best adapted to different kinds of Fish 51 Fried Mackerel (Common French receipt) 70 The best mode of boiling Fish 53 Fillets of Mackerel (fried or broiled) 71 Brine for boiling Fish 54 Boiled fillets of Mackerel 71 To render boiled Fish firm 54 Mackerel broiled whole (an excellent receipt) 71 To know when Fish is sufficiently boiled, or otherwise cooked 55 Mackerel stewed with wine (very good) 72 To bake Fish 55 Fillets of Mackerel stewed in wine (excellent) 72 Fat for frying Fish 55 To boil Haddocks (and when in season) 73 To keep Fish hot for table 56 Baked Haddocks 73 To boil a Turbot (and when in season) 56 To fry Haddocks 73 Turbot à la crème 57 To dress Finnan Haddocks 74 Turbot au Béchamel 57 To boil Gurnards (with directions for dressing them in other ways) 74 Mould of cold Turbot with Shrimp Chatney (refer to Chapter VI) 57 Fresh Herrings (Farleigh receipt and when in season) 74 To boil a John Dory (and when in season) 58 To dress the Sea Bream 75 Small John Dories baked (Good. Author's receipt) 58 To boil Plaice or Flounders (and when in season) 75 To boil a Brill 58 To fry Plaice or Flounders 75 To boil Salmon (and when in season) 59 To roast, bake or broil Red Mullet (and when in season) 76 Salmon à la Genevese 59 To boil Grey Mullet 76 Crimped Salmon 60 The Gar Fish (to bake) 77 Salmon à la St. Marcel 60 The Sand Launce, or Sand Eel (mode of dressing) 77 Baked Salmon over mashed Potatoes 60 To fry Smelts (and when in season) 77 Salmon Pudding, to be served hot or cold (a Scotch receipt. Good) 60 Baked Smelts 78 To boil Cod Fish (and when in season) 61 To dress White Bait (Greenwich receipt and when in season) 78 Slices of Cod Fish fried 61 Water Souchy (Greenwich receipt) 78 Stewed Cod 62 Shad, Touraine fashion (also à la mode de Touraine) 79 Stewed Cod Fish in brown sauce 62 Stewed Trout (good common receipt and when in season) 80 To boil Salt Fish 62 To boil Pike (and when in season) 80 Salt Fish à la Maître d'Hôtel 63 To bake Pike (common receipt) 81 To boil Cods Sounds 63 To bake Pike (superior receipt) 81 To fry Cods' Sounds in batter 63 To stew Carp (a common country receipt) 82 To fry Soles (and when in season) 64 To boil Perch 82 To boil Soles 64 To fry Perch or Tench 83 Fillets of Soles 65 To fry Eels (and when in season) 83 Soles au Plat 66 Boiled Eels (German receipt) 83 Baked Soles (a simple but excellent receipt) 66 To dress Eels (Cornish receipt) 84 Soles stewed in cream 67 Red Herrings à la Dauphin 84 To fry Whitings (and when in season) 67 Red Herrings (common English mode) 84 Fillets of Whitings 68 Anchovies fried in batter 84 To boil Whitings (French receipt) 68 CHAPTER III Dishes of Shell-Fish Oysters, to cleanse and feed (and when in season) 85 Hot crab or Lobster (in season during the same time as Lobsters) 89 To scallop Oysters 86 Potted Lobsters 90 Scalloped Oysters à la Reine 86 Lobster cutlets (a superior entrée) 91 To Stew Oysters 86 Lobster sausages 91 For curried Oysters see Chapter XVI 87 Boudinettes of Lobsters, Prawns or Shrimps (entrée, author's receipt) 92 Oyster sausages (a most excellent receipt) 87 To boil Shrimps or Prawns 93 To boil Lobsters 88 To dish cold Prawns 93 Cold dressed Lobster and Crab 88 To shell Shrimps and Prawns quickly and easily 93 Lobsters, fricasseed or au Béchamel (entrée) 89
Chapter I, Soups at page 46 "Cheap Fish Soups"
CHEAP FISH SOUPS.
An infinite variety of excellent soaps may be made of fish, which may be stewed down for them in precisely the same manner as meat, and with the same addition of vegetables and herbs. When the skin is coarse or rank it should be carefully stripped off before the fish is used; and any oily particles which may float on the surface should be entirely removed from it.
In France, Jersey, Cornwall, and many other localities, the conger eel, divested of its skin, is sliced up into thick cutlets and made into soup, which we are assured by English families who have it often served at their tables, is extremely good. A half-grown fish is best for the purpose. After the soup has been strained and allowed to settle, it must be heated afresh, and rice and minced parsley may be added to it as for the turkey soup of page 32; or it may be thickened with rice-flour only, or served clear. Curried fish-soups, too, are much to be recommended.
When broth or stock has been made as above with conger eel, common eels, whitings, haddocks, codlings, fresh water fish, or any common kind, which may be at hand, flakes of cold salmon, cod fish, John Dories, or scallops of cold soles, plaice, &c., may be heated and served in it; and the remains of crabs or lobsters mingled with them. The large oysters sold at so cheap a rate upon the coast, and which are not much esteemed for eating raw, serve admirably for imparting flavour to soup, and the softer portions of them may be served in it after a few minutes of gentle simmering. Anchovy or any other store fish-sauce may be added with good effect to many of these pottages if used with moderation. Prawns and shrimps likewise would generally be considered an improvement to them.
For more savoury preparations, fry the fish and vegetables, lay them into the soup-pot, and add boiling, instead of cold water to them.
Chapter II, Fish at pages 48 to 84
Chapter III, Dishes of Shell-Fish at pages 85 to 93:
"What Shall We Have for Dinner ? Satisfactorily answered by numerous bills of fare for from two to eighteen persons" (1851) Catherine Dickens ("Lady Maria Clutterbuck")
Click here to read the "Bills of Fare" online.
Background to authorship
It is now believed that What Shall We Have For Dinner? was written by Dickens under the name Lady Maria Clutterbuck. For decades academics thought Dickens' wife, Catherine, wrote the book. But papers found by the great-great grandson of Mark Lemon, a Dickens' family friend, proves otherwise. The papers, written by Lemon's daughter Betty, describe how Mr and Mrs Dickens would retreat to the study to write down the recipes, reports The Times. And she describes how:
"Various recipes were discussed and eventually a cookery book was compiled. The book created quite a sensation, but how much greater it would have been if had been known that Charles Dickens himself had a finger in the pie. The secret was, however, strictly kept."
Tim Matthews, 73, Lemon's relation told The Times:
"I've had them since 1976 when my grandmother died but never got round to sorting them out. Some are quite scurrilous. When I read the scraps about Dickens and the cookery book I was very excited. I was going through hundreds of pages of family memories during a clear out to make space in the house."
Peter Ackroyd, a Dickens biographer, said:
"This is very exciting. It is quite rare to find a new document about Dickens. It was understood that Catherine Dickens compiled a cookery book so evidence that Dickens had a hand in it is new."
The book was first published in October 1851.
The only fish-related recipes or receipts described in "What Shall We Have for Dinner?"
"A Practical Treatise on the Choice and Cookery of Fish" (1854) William Hughes "Piscator" at Chapters I, II, and IV (Sections VI and VIII) at pages 1 to 13, 227 to 229 and 239 to 247
The Choice and Cookery of Fish
The object of the present work is to supply instructions upon the choice and cookery of fish; a subject hitherto only partially treated upon by the many talented authors on the general art of cookery. Even in the very best of these books a great number of our most common and useful fishes are omitted altogether; whilst others are slightly glossed over, little being said about the edible merits, or by what particular mode of cookery they may be turned to the most profitable advantage. As a proof of this, in six modern cookery works of the highest merit, we have searched in vain for something about the qualities of the John Dory, which, although one of the best fishes the sea has produced, is altogether unnoticed; nor can we find the ling, - a very common, and yet one of the most useful fishes taken upon our coasts, - spoken of otherwise than as a dried salt fish; whilst no kind of fish whatever is capable of being dressed in a greater variety of ways, and few are equal to it in every one of them. The red and the grey mullet, two fish as different from each other, as far as cookery is concerned, as any two kinds can possibly be, we find jumbled together in a very strange manner, as if both were of the same species; the only difference mentioned between them being, that the red are better than the grey; whereas in point of fact they differ so widely from each other in every essential particular, that no mode of cookery adapted to the one can be applied to the other without spoiling it outright.
But it is not our intention to find any further fault with our talented writers on the art of cookery for their omissions in the fish department, in which, as far as they have gone, the subject has been so well treated, that our regret is that more has not been said upon it. This we hope in some measure to supply, and at the same time to point out how a valuable article of food, the importance of which does not seem to be sufficiently appreciated, may be turned to the most advantageous account. It is really a subject worthy of some attention in a country like our own, where the consumption of provisions of every kind is so great as to render us in some degree dependent upon foreign countries, not only for the luxuries, but even some of the most common and essential necessaries of life, and where consequently every available article of food we can obtain from own resources ought to be made the most of; notwithstanding which, by some woeful mismanagement, many tons of fish, instead of being used as food, are frequently cast away to rot upon a dunghill, or carted away for manure, that, if properly distributed, might have relieved the wants, not only of hundreds, but even of thousands of our needy fellow-creatures.
This great evil formerly arose from the vast expense incurred and time occupied in carrying fish to any great distance overland from the places where it was caught; which consequently placed the purchase of that article only within the reach of the more opulent classes of society, and these, even at the highest prices, could not always obtain it in a sound condition. These difficulties are now in great measure removed by means of railway communication, through the medium of which fish of all kinds, and in a healthy state, may, at a trifling expense, be distributed throughout the whole length and breadth of the land, and thus afford all ranks and classes a valuable augmentation of the necessaries of life at a moderate price. In a national point of view, therefore, it is evident an increased consumption of this article of food must confer a great benefit on the whole kingdom; for not only would the people generally be better and more cheaply fed, but our fisheries, so important to the interests of this country, as affording the best nursery for our seamen, would be carried on far more extensively in proportion as the demand for their labours increased. For this the supply is ample; all that is wanting is a demand for the article, and a knowledge of how to apply it when obtained.
If the good qualities of many kind of fishes were better known, this desirable end would be very easily attained; but unfortunately many good and wholesome fishes are rejected merely from ignorance of their real value, or of the proper way of cooking them; and this occurs more frequently with the most common and cheapest kinds of fish, many of which are superior to those of a rarer kind, and which are consequently sold at a much higher price. Such has been remarkably exemplified in the instance of the hake, which, although so highly esteemed amongst the Portuguese (but upon whose coast it does, not appear to be plentiful), as to be styled a royal fish, fit for the food of kings, has been so slightly regarded at Plymouth, where it is abundant, that till very lately it was altogether rejected by the opulent classes, and unthankfully eaten by the poor, for no other cause than the extreme cheapness and abundance of the commodity. Latterly, however, the merits of the hake have overcome this ill-founded prejudice, and it is now to be met with at the best tables, where we have had the gratification of seeing hake cutlets garnishing a splendid turbot, and even unanimously proclaimed to be the better fish of the two. Still, for all this, far greater quantities of hake are often brought into our markets than can possibly be consumed in a fresh state; the consequence is, that tons weight are frequently spoilt, and carried off by cartloads at a time for manure. The same also occurs with respect to rays, with which the markets in the southern parts of the west of England are often so glutted, that not one tenth part of them can find purchasers, even at the very lowest price; and yet when rays are prepared in the form of crimped skate, they are by no means a bad dish of fish, and in many places highly prized, when stewed is really delicious, and, what is still more, exceedingly wholesome and nutritious; and yet, from the quantities of these fish, and the exceeding lowness of price at which they may be purchased, many of the very poorest people, and almost on the verge of starvation, will refuse to partake of them in any shape or form whatever. This, amongst numberless other instances we could mention, shows how desirable it is that the true qualities of all our fishes should be more generally known, as well as the criterions by which their sound and healthy condition may be most readily tested. The chief cause why fish is not a more favourite article of diet with many persons is, that they have chanced to partake of it when out of season, or tainted by decomposition, or spoilt by exceedingly bad cookery, and they have taken a disgust to it accordingly. A mackerel is a fine flavoured fish when perfectly fresh, and a very nauseous one when stale; and yet the latter is the condition in which most of these fish are commonly eaten by those who live at a distance from the places they are caught. The same remarks apply equally to many other kinds of fish, which, although excellent when dressed soon after they are taken, entirely lose their fine flavour a few hours afterwards, and, if kept much longer, become so insipid as to be altogether unpalatable, although free from any taint of decomposition; whilst others, as the whole of the ray tribe for instance, so far from being at all damaged, are greatly improved by being kept a day or two before they are cooked. Again, there are some kinds of fish - as the whiting pollock, and tamlin cod - which are soft, watery, mawkish, and insipid, if boiled immediately after they are captured, but which by being powdered with salt a day or two before they are dressed, become both firm and well-flavoured, whilst with other fish, the same process produces an effect diametrically opposite; the salt extracting every kind of good flavour, and often imparting a strong disagreeable taste in its stead, which it almost invariably does, if used in any considerable quantity for the purpose of preserving soles, and most, if not every, other kind of flat fish.
The cleaning and preparing fish for the table also requires considerable care, and many good dish of fish is spoilt in consequence of inattention to this important matter.
It is also essential to know what particular mode of cooking is best adapted to each individual kind of fish; for, although some species are capable of being dressed in every variety of way that gastronomic ingenuity can suggest, and, if properly done, are good in every one of them, there are others that, although delicious if dressed in the mode to which they arc especially adapted, are scarcely eatable if cooked in any other manner. Thus, if a grey mullet were to be dressed without being gutted or scaled in the way a red mullet is usually done, it would be unfit to be eaten; whilst a red mullet scaled and plain boiled, in the same manner the grey ought to be dressed, would prove one of the most insipid fishes that could be brought to table. A carp, everybody knows, when stewed, affords a splendid dish, but, when simply boiled, is one of the very worst fish that can be eaten. Chads also, which are the young of the sea bream, although very indifferent fish when prepared in most of the ordinary ways of cooking, may be so cooked, that inexperienced persons would not know them from surmullet; they are also exceedingly good marinated; in addition to which, by the aid of a little butter and spice, they may be potted, and rendered in every respect equal to the potted charr for which the lakes of Cumberland have been so long and justly celebrated.
With these few preliminary observations, we shall proceed at once with our subject. First, by offering such practical directions as may enable our readers to distinguish the different species of fish from each other, with remarks upon the respective merits of each individual species; as also the time of year at which they are to be found in the most sound and healthy condition, and the criterions by which this sound and healthy condition can be most readily determined.
Our next attempt will be to point out the proper way of cleaning fish, and preparing them for cooking, as also the best ways of preserving them either for a short or a long period, as circumstances may require.
And, lastly, we shall afford all the information we can collect as to the various ways in which each individual species may be cooked, so as to appear at table to the greatest possible advantage; as also the way in which it should be served up and garnished, and the different sauces and gravies with which it ought to be accompanied; as also the various ways in which these gravies and sauces are to be prepared.
Directions for choosing fish, with remarks upon their respective qualities
Most persons entertain the notion that certain kinds of fish all come into good season at the same tune of the year, without any important difference between the individual qualities of each; in fact, that when a particular sort of fish is said to be in season, the whole species are equally good; and, when out of season, all are bad in a like degree. Now this is most erroneous. It is true that in some months of the year the generality of fish of a particular kind are in better condition than at others; and at those periods the greater number will be found to be in the primest order. But at the same time it must be borne in mind, that fish vary as much from each other in the relative state of their goodness, as either cattle or poultry; so that, even in the most favourable periods of the year, many fish may always be met with in an unhealthy state, and of some particular kinds, as we shall duly notice hereafter, it is rare, at any season of the year whatever, out of a quantity exposed for sale, to find one half of them in proper order for the table; and sometimes not even one in twenty can be met with approaching even to tolerable condition, and this even at a time of the year when fish of the same kind are usually considered to be in proper season. This shows how necessary it is that every caterer of a family should know how to choose fish as well as meat, poultry, vegetables, fruit, or any other article of food.
There is, indeed, little risk, for those who can afford to pay the price, of buying a fish much out of condition from a first-rate fishmonger, however the article may prove as far as freshness is concerned; as this kind of tradesman makes it a rule never to purchase any but first-rate fish, but upon which, as he must get a large profit to afford a sufficient remuneration for the investment of capital in so perishable an article, the purchaser must expect to pay accordingly; so that any one who is possessed of sufficient knowledge to select the article may usually obtain it at a great reduction of price in a public fish market, and generally in a much fresher state than he could obtain in the shop of a fashionable fishmonger. Still, those who know nothing of the matter, if they want a really good dish of fish, would do wiser to deal with a respectable fishmonger, and pay him what he asks, than run the risk of what they may purchase in the public markets, or from those persons who hawk fish about the streets and through the country; for into such hands as the latter all the refuse fish is sure to come, which, of course, they strive to dispose of to their most ignorant customers, well knowing their wiser ones would decline to purchase so worthless a commodity. This is another strong argument that every one who attempts to purchase fish, should know something of the quality of the article; and more particularly so, as little difference is made in the price between the good and the bad; so that, upon being able to exercise a sound judgment will depend whether you have the best, or the worst kind of commodity, for precisely the same amount of money.
But it is not enough to be able to detect the healthy condition of a fish, or its state of freshness; for with some kinds it is essential to discover the particular manner in which they have been captured; as the way in which fish are taken sometimes spoils some delicate kinds outright, and others it impairs so considerably, that they are, or, at any rate, are supposed to be, sold at a cheaper rate than those which have been caught by some less injurious mode. Thus, whitings, haddocks, bibs, and surmullet, being very tender and delicate fish, if caught in a trawl net, are rendered all but worthless, in consequence of the pressure they encounter amidst the crowd of other fish, and the weeds, scruff, and rubbish with which they are jammed up in the trawl net. Cod, ling, hake, and pollock, when captured in the same manner, all become more or less injured, sometimes to such an extent as to render them valueless, whilst at others the damage is but trivial; still, however slight it may be, none of the last kind of fish caught in this way, are equal to those taken with a hook and line. Yet fish vendors have never been known to cry stinking fish, or trawl-caught cod, hake, or whiting, which they usually strive, and often successfully, to pass off on every inexperienced purchaser as hook-and-line caught fish.
The difference between hook-and-line fish and one caught in a trawl, may, however, be very readily detected by any one who will attend to the rules we shall lay down in the following section, and which we trust will be duly attended to by all our readers who intend to make purchases in the fish market.
Click here to read the entire text online, the contents to which are set out below:
Chapter I, Introductory Remarks, page 1
Chapter II, Directions for choosing fish, with remarks upon their respective qualities, page 10
Section I, Preliminary observations, page 10
Section II, Fishes of the cod kind, page 14
Section III, Fishes of the flounder kind, page 38
Section IV, Dories, page 51
Section V, Fishes of the salmon kind, page 55
Section VI, Eels and congers, page 66
Section VII, Fishes of the carp kind, page 72
Section VIII, Pikes and launces, page 85
Section IX, Fishes of the mackerel kind, page 92
Section X, Fishes of the herring kind, page 97
Section XI, Spinous fishes, including fishes of the perch kind, and mullets, both red and grey; the sea bream in all its varieties; wrasses, and the tribe of gurnards, page 103
Section XII, Cartilaginous fishes, page 123
Section XIII, As to the choice of salt fish, page 129
Section XIV, How to choose crabs, lobsters, and all other kinds of shellfish, page 132
Chapter III, page 140
Section I, Of cleaning and preserving fish, and preparing it for the table, page 140
Section II, How to cure and preserve fish, page 151
Chapter IV, page 157
On the cookery of fish, page 157
Section I, How to boil fish, page 158
Section II, How to fry fish, page 173
Section III, Gravies for fried fish, page 197
Section IV, How to broil fish, page 200
Section V, How to stew fish, page 207
Section VI, How to make fish curry, page 227
It may be laid down as a general rule, that every kind of fish that is adapted for stewing, may be converted into a curry; and added to this, fish that have been already dressed may also be pressed into the service, and all kinds mixed together, which, so far from being in any way detrimental, will be rather an improvement to the whole.
The foundation of all fish curries should be a rich fish-gravy, made with the bones, heads, and some portions of the flesh either of the same, or of some other kinds of fish adapted to the purpose, prepared as before directed (see page 197). To this should be added about twice the quantity of fried onions that are used in preparing the stewed fish, to which you may also add a clove or two of garlic; add to this a tea-spoonful of Cornubian sauce, a dessert spoonful of curry powder, and a piece of butter rolled in flour.
Having half fried your fish as for stewing, place it in a stew-pan, pour in the gravy, and let the whole stew slowly the same time you would allow for stewing in the ordinary way. Then, having your rice prepared and nicely boiled, serve it up in a separate dish from the curry.
Some attention is requisite in boiling the rice. The best and most simple plan is to boil the rice gently until sufficiently done; and then, throwing off all the water from it, place the saucepan either on a stove, or in an oven, or over the fire, until the grains separate.
To curry prawns
Boil an onion in a small quantity of water, until it is reduced to a pulp; in this stew the heads and shells of the prawns, as before directed (see page 224); and, having strained off the liquor, throw it into a stew-pan, and let it warm gently until it simmers; then put in the prawns, with a spoonful of curry powder and a tea-spoonful of Cornubian sauce. Let the whole simmer for about two minutes, stirring the whole well together. Serve them up with boiled rice.
To curry lobsters
Stew your lobster, as before directed; and, when it begins to simmer, add to it a tea-spoonful of Cornubian sauce, and double that quantity of curry powder. Let the whole simmer gently, stirring it well for about a couple of minutes, then throw the whole out upon a dish covered with rice.
Section VII, How to roast and bake fish, page 229
Section VIII, Fish pies and patties, page 239
Fish pies are a valuable addition to a bill of fare; and the Cornish people have so great a predilection for this particular branch of cookery, that there are few fish found upon their coasts that are not applied to this purpose. Some fishes are, however, much better adapted to it than others, as they ought to possess a firm muscle, and be as free as possible from bones; but tender fish, such as whiting, however delicious when cooked in a way to which they are adapted, make very bad pies; and should never, therefore, be devoted to that purpose.
Prepare your eels as for frying (see page 148), and cut them up in the same manner; season them with a little cayenne, common pepper, and salt, and pour in sufficient water nearly to fill the dish; and placing on a lid of crust, bake them until they are thoroughly done. Then take off the lid, and pour in some cream proportioned to the size of the pie; and instantly replacing the crust, the cream will mix up with the gravy, and make it just what it ought to be. Some use butter; but this is not near so good as cream, being apt to make the gravy very oily, and thus renders it as unpleasant to the taste as to the sight.
This is prepared in much the same way as in the last receipt, except that the tail portion, on account of the numerous bones with which it is interspersed, had better be left out. When the pie is done, some portion of the gravy should be poured out before the cream is put in, as a much greater portion of liquid will be found to exude from a confer than an eel when undergoing; the baking process shut up in a pie.
Hake, when intended for a pie, should be cut up in cutlets, as for frying (see page 180); and being placed in a pie-dish, and seasoned with a little cayenne pepper and salt, should be baked in the same manner as an eel pie, and with the addition of cream to enrich the gravy. If you wish to save the cream, then have a fish gravy prepared before-hand, and, allowing it to become cold, pour this over the cutlets when placed in the dish, before putting on the lid and committing it to the oven.
Bass make an excellent pie, being prepared in much the same way as the hake, with this difference, that the former fish, instead of being cut up in cutlets, is cut up in thick steaks through the backbone; and all the roots of the fins should be cut out, the bones of which would otherwise prove exceedingly troublesome. Any of the larger kind of gurnards, as also ling, may be prepared to advantage in the same way.
These fish are usually put in whole, being first very carefully scaled, and the fins cut out by the roots. Wrasse are also cooked in the same manner; but as they are exceedingly watery, the whole of the liquid coming from the fish should be strained off and a good supply of cream substituted in its place, so as to make these fishes as palatable as circumstances will admit. Bream pie, however, is excellent; but wrasse pie we certainly cannot praise.
Cut up the fish in cutlets, in the same manner as a hake is done; lay the pieces in a pie-dish, the bottom of which must be well rubbed with butter; season with cayenne, common pepper, and salt; add some bruised shrimps, or some portions of lobster, and fill up the pie about half full with water. Then, with the salmon bones, head, and any other ingredients you have at hand, make a good fish gravy; and when the pie is done, open the lid and pour the gravy into it.
Any kind of flat-fish is suited for a pie; but of all these the sole is by far the best. For this purpose the largest-sized fish of the kind are to be preferred. These must be cut, in cutlets, carefully from the bones, and placed in layers in the pie-dish, each layer being seasoned with cayenne, plenty of common pepper, a little grated nutmeg and ground mace, and between each layer must be placed some oysters deprived of their beards, or a few bruised shrimps; the beards and liquor of the former, or the heads and shells of the latter, being previously boiled up with the head and bones of the sole, until all the goodness is extracted, the whole is poured into the pie-dish, over the cutlets, which are then to be covered over with a crust and thoroughly baked, and when done the lid must be lifted up, and a quantity of cream, proportioned to the size of the pie, poured into it, and the lid again closed down to permit the cream to become thoroughly mixed up with the gravy whilst the latter remains boiling hot. This we consider the best of all fish pies, and may be eaten either hot or cold.
Pilchard Pie in the Cornish mode
Carefully scale your pilchards, which you must take care to ascertain are perfectly fresh, and having scalded a few leeks, place them in about equal proportions with the pilchards in the pie-dish, with sufficient water nearly to fill the dish; and when baked enough, open the lid, drain off all the liquor, and pour in some cream or new milk.
Prepare your fish as for stewing (see page 221), and when it will bear it pull it in pieces with a fork; and having four or five hard-boiled eggs chopped up fine, season the whole with cayenne and common pepper, and then fill up the dish with as much milk as it will contain; when the pie is baked, lift the lid, pour a little cream into it, and close it up again immediately.
Prepare your lobsters in the same way as for stewing (see page 222); and if the lobster be a female, beat up the coral and spawn in a mortar. This being done, cast all you have picked out, both great and small together, into a stew-pan, with a small quantity of water, veal broth, or thin fish gravy, three tea-spoonfuls of vinegar, and a good-sized piece of butter rubbed in flour; season with cayenne, pepper, salt, a small quantity of grated nutmeg, and pounded mace. Let all these ingredients warm very gently over a slow fire, until the mixture begins to simmer; then put the whole into a very shallow pie dish, and cover it with a rich crust, and bake it until the paste is done, when it will be ready for the table.
Prepare the lobster as in the last receipt, only that the tail part should be broken up in rather smaller portions. If you intend to have small patties, bake up some fine puff paste in patty-pans, the bottoms of which you must well butter, otherwise the patties will stick to them. Fill up the space between the pastry and that which the lobster is intended eventually to occupy, with a small piece of bread, in order to preserve a sufficient hollow space for the latter purpose. Then place the patties in the oven, and whilst the baking process goes on warm up your lobster with the necessary ingredients in a stew-pan, taking care it never quite reaches to the boiling point; and when the patties are baked enough, lift up the lid of each, and, carefully extracting the bread, pour the lobster, and a proportionate quantity of the liquid in which it was stewed, into the hollow place the bread previously occupied. If a larger patty is required, then of course the bread inserted must be proportioned to it, although, in the larger-sized patties, it is a more common practice to dispense with the lid, or cover, altogether; but, in either case, the bread should be inserted to preserve the space the lobster is designed to occupy.
Shrimp and Prawn Patties
Prepare your patties as directed in the last receipt; and, having stewed the shrimps or prawns in the way we have previously pointed out (see page 224) (but of course omitting the onions), pour them, with their sauce, into the patties; serve them up folded in a napkin, to keep them hot. They may, however, be eaten cold, and in the latter form make an excellent dish for a supper table.
Having bearded your oysters, boil up the beards and hard parts in the liquor till all their strength is extracted, and the bulk of liquid considerably reduced in quantity; then strain it through a hair sieve, and, having cut up the remaining portion of your oysters into small pieces, throw them, together with the strained liquor, into a stew-pan; season with cayenne, common pepper, salt, a little nutmeg, and grated lemon peel. Let the whole warm gradually until it begins to simmer; then throw in a sufficient quantity of cream to thicken it, and keep turning until it is thoroughly mixed together, and then pour the contents into your patties. Be not too sparing of your cream, for, depend upon it, milk and flour will never answer the purpose, whatever strict economists may assure you to the contrary.
Sometimes oysters are put in whole, instead of being chopped up; and when they are very fine, a single oyster only is placed in a patty of a proportionate size, the gravy being filled in with it; and a number of these patties are placed one above another, thus forming a kind of pyramid, which has a very pleasing appearance, and looks exceedingly well upon a supper table.
A delicious patty may be made by mixing up chopped portions of veal sweetbread with oysters, in about equal quantities, the oysters prepared according to the foregoing receipt.
Section IX, Fish soups, page 247
Fish soups, although not very often used, are many of them excellent, and almost any kind of fish may be turned to profitable account in this way, and this even after having been previously cooked, particularly if a little meat broth can be procured; and many heads, bones, and portions of fish that are carelessly thrown away and wasted, might with little trouble have assisted in the form of a very delicious soup, in helping out the following day's dinner. Several kinds of fish may be mixed up together, which in fact is generally an improvement, some giving strength and nourishment, and others imparting a flavour to the soup, as in the receipt following.
Take about two pounds of eels or congers, one pound of crimped skate, and about the same weight of flounders, or any other kind of flat-fish or gurnards, cleanse them properly, cut them up in pieces, and fry them in butter until they are about half-done; then place them in a boiler, in about three pints of water or meat broth; having first seasoned the pieces with cayenne, common pepper, and salt, add a bundle of sweet herbs and parsley, and let the whole stew for several hours, so that not only all the strength and goodness may be extracted from the fish, but that the liquid may be reduced to about one-third of its original quantity. Whilst the stewing is going on, fry a couple of onions, coated with flour in the butter in which the fish was previously fried, until thoroughly brown, and then throw them into the soup, together with the butter in which they were fried. Thicken with a little flour and butter, and add a little ketchup, soy, or Cornubian sauce. Then pour out the contents, and strain them through a hair sieve or colander into a basin, and there allow them to get cold, when all the fat which accumulates upon the surface should be removed; when wanted for use, the soup may be again warmed up. You may add vermicelli or macaroni to the soup.
Conger Soup, in the Jersey mode
Take five pounds of conger to three pints of water, cut the former up into small pieces and place them in a boiler with the water, until the liquid is reduced to about two-thirds of its original quantity; then strain it off through a hair sieve or cullender; add to it the same quantity of new milk as there is of soup, and warm this up again; throw in some green peas, which should be boiled up in the soup until thoroughly done, and then the peas and soup must be served up together.
To make Conger Soup in imitation of Turtle
Prepare the soup as in the first receipt, and then cut off some belly-pieces of a large conger into pieces of about an inch square, and fry them in butter until about one-half done, and then throw the pieces, with the butter in which they were fried, into the prepared soup, in which they must be allowed to stew until thoroughly done; thicken the soup with butter rolled in flour, or a proportionate quantity of cream, give a squeeze of lemon, and add to this forcemeat and egg-balls.
Make a soup according to first receipt, and when it is strained off, beat up the yolks of ten hard eggs, with the hard part of a pint of oysters, in a mortar, and cast this, with the liquor and the remaining portions of the oysters, into the soup, and let the whole simmer together for about half an hour; then have ready the yolks of six raw eggs, well beaten, and add them to the soup; keep the mixture stirring over the fire until it becomes thick and smooth, allowing it only to simmer slowly, and on no account to boil.
Stew the mussels in the liquor which comes from them, into which must be thrown some butter rolled in flour, some parsley, and a bundle of sweet herbs; allow them to simmer until the liquid is reduced to about one-half its original quantity; then strain off the liquor, and mix it with some soup prepared according to the first receipt, and after warming up the whole, throw in the mussels, and serve up the latter together with the soup.
Take some fresh-water eels, skinned and cut up in the same way as for frying (see page 181), and to every pound-weight of fish put a quart of water, some whole pepper, an onion, and a bundle of sweet herbs; add a little soy, ketchup, or Cornubian sauce, and let the whole stew gently until half the liquor is wasted. Fry an onion or two in butter, and when done brown throw it, with the butter, into the soup. Strain the soup as before directed, and having some pieces of toasted bread cut up in small pieces in a tureen, pour the soup over them.
Lobster and Crayfish Soup
Take three quarts of strong veal broth made without herbs, the crumb of four French rolls, the flesh of a lobster, or sea crayfish, or a proportionate quantity of river crayfish or of prawns, pound up the whole in a mortar, together with the coral and spawn, if any; season with cayenne, common pepper, and salt; add a glass of wine, or half that quantity of vinegar, and a slight squeeze of lemon; let the whole stew gently for about half an hour, and serve it up with a French roll, stuck full of almonds, floating in the tureen.
Section X, Twice-laid dishes of fish, page 252
Section XI, Potting, scolloping, pickling and marinading, page 255
Section XII, Sauces for fish, page 275
Index, page 283
"The Book of Household Management" (1861) Isabella Mary Beeton at Chapter VIII
Click here to read Chapter VII, The Natural History of Fishes and Chapter VIII, Fish Recipes online.
"Sea-fishing as a Sport" (1865) Lambton J. H. Young at pages 92 & 177 to 181
The Common Sea Bream
This fish is very good for the table. One way of cooking it is to stuff it with veal stuffing and then bake it, when I am sure any gourmand would be satisfied with so admirable a "bonne bouche". Another mode is to split it open, dry it in the sun, and sprinkle it with pepper and salt; when dry, either grill or fry it; or you may wipe it quite dry after cleaning, but without removing the scales; it should then be broiled, turning it often, and if the skin cracks flour it a little to keep the outer case entire; when on table, the whole skin and scales turn off without any difficulty, and the muscle beneath, saturated with its own natural juices, which the outside covering has retained, will be found of good flavour.
The Best Method of Preserving and Dressing Various Kinds of Fish
The whiting pollack should be boiled and sent up garnished with horse-radish and oyster sauce, or melted butter and anchovy sauce. When cooked in this way it is a good substitute for cod; also it is cut in slices about an inch thick and fried in butter. Another favourite way on board ship is to remove the head and backbone, split the fish, salt and pepper it and dry in the sun for some days; to cook it, either fly or grill.
The mackerel is cooked in many ways, the most general being to boil whole, and send to table with sauce of melted butter and chopped fennel and parsley; it is also treated in the same way as the pollack, but bears more pepper. If to be dried and kept some days, this plan of drying is in almost universal use on the coasts the flavour when well fried being superior to that of most fish. Another plan is to salt them, and then brush them over with "Cambrian Essence", more generally known as the "Essence of Smoke"; this gives a far more delicate flavour than any other way of curing fish by smoking.
The conger eel, although not in great repute, requires only to be known to be appreciated; cut into pieces and fried it is more delicate than would be believed, the flesh being of the purest white, the head and bones and end of the tail stewed with parsley, some leaves of the white beet, and other herbs, make a delicious soup; also it is packed, in pieces of about six inches long, into casks, with layers of salt between and kept for winter use. In Devon and Cornwall a favourite mode of dressing it is to make it into pies, and a more savoury dish is not often set before one.
The hake, cut into slices an inch or more thick, is very good, and when stuffed with veal stuffing and baked is a great addition to the table; the pieces that remain should be removed from the bones, mixed with potatoes, and formed into flat cakes, which when fried for breakfast will be found quite a delicacy.
Bream are also treated in the same way, but must be the largest that can be procured.
The mullet, both red and gray, should be fried in butter and sent up as hot as possible, the flavour being lost when the fish is cold.
The basse is best when split and dried in the sun, with a good quantity of pepper and salt, and when fried and eaten with butter is very good; sometimes they are boiled, but are not good so, as when sodden with water the flesh becomes short and woolly. It is sometimes cut into steaks and fried.
Whiting are both boiled and fried when fresh or after being split and dried, in which latter state they make a favourite addition to the breakfast table, but are never kept very long unless smoked in the same manner as haddocks.
Herrings are fried fresh, and when salted (the head being removed) will keep for months; when, if required for use, should be soaked for some hours in water to remove the excess of salt; they are also smoked, when they become known by the names of the bloater and red herring, the former being the more delicate of the two.
The pilchard is treated in the same way (except smoking), and are preserved by the poor of Devon and Cornwall in thousands for winter consumption, being packed into casks in layers with salt between them. Vast quantities of these fish salted are sent to the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, where the inhabitants almost depend on them for their daily food.
The sand eel or launce is a delicate fish when taken in quite a fresh state and fried, care being taken to have them on table very hot. They are prepared to keep by having the heads cut off, and being put in salt for a day or two, then strung through the tail with a needle and thread, a dozen or two at a time, and hung over a line to dry. They are usually grilled of a delicate brown for breakfast and eaten with bread and butter.
The plaice, dab, flounder, sole, and fluke are in general fried in a fresh state; sometimes, however, they are hung in the wind and sun to dry, and then fried and eaten.
The ray or skate is usually hung to dry, and then either boiled or fried to suit the taste of the consumer.
Prawns and shrimps are always boiled, and allowed to get cold, as then their horny covering is easily removed.
"Soups and Dressed Fish à la Mode" (1888) Harriet Anne De Salis at pages 9, 10, 12, 20, 21, 26, 36 and 39 to 84
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"A Handbook of Fish Cookery: How to buy, dress, cook and eat fish" (1897) Lucy H. Yates at pages 1 to 87
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In spite of a considerable amount of trade grumbling, the best part of the market is still held by English fish, as a glance at any time over the names on the crates will show. The foreign importations, though large, are not nearly so extensive as might be supposed.
As a rule the north British ports furnish the largest supply; the southern ports suffer the most from foreign competition. Continental freightage also is light, and as the foreigner rarely keeps very closely to the laws of "fence months", he gets fish into the market when no home-caught of the same kind is to be had.
If all people, both rich and poor, could be persuaded to eat fish more freely, they would be benefited both in health and pocket.
If the demand were greater the supply would be more liberal, more varied, and also much cheaper.
At present, although there is much complaining about catches falling off, many grounds yielding but a poor harvest, yet tons of fish are annually sent away from the markets for manure.
The trade is both risky and variable, consequently prices have to be kept up that the dealer may realise some profit, and for this state of things the modern housewife is largely accountable.
It is not wholly a question of price, although there is still much to desire on this point.
Ignorance, especially with the working man's wife, will generally be found to be the cause of the aversion which many housewives have to the cooking of fish; even in middle and upper class households much ignorance as to the kinds of fish and the best means of making use of them prevails.
The poorer classes still regard fish as "nothing to make a meal of" and, sad to say, a great many of the poor of our cities will not eat fish, however cheaply they may get it. They have many advantages of getting it which those who live in superior neighbourhoods have not.
Often before the Central Market closes, first-rate cod is to be had for two pence the pound - a seven-pound cod for a shilling. Plentiful and wholesome as cod is, it is seldom much thought of by poor people. Salted, sun-dried cod, is thought beneath notice, although large quantities are consumed on the continent, and some very dainty dishes made therefrom. Plaice, too, generally to be had at four pence the pound, is but lightly esteemed.
Humble Londoners care most for smoked fish, "something that has a grip with it", they say. To meet this demand many adulterations are practised by the cockney curer. Haddocks are often but indifferent codling. The "Finnan Haddie" was caught in the Scheldt, and Stavanger herrings are passed off as Yarmouth bloaters.
Unwholesome common lobsters, winkles, and whelks, are preferred to good substantial fish, and, as before stated, ignorance of the proper methods of cooking is most frequently the reason of this.
Where late dinners, with people of small incomes, are coming more into favour, it is found an economy, as it is also considered the "correct thing" to have a course of fish. Indeed, as an economical article of diet, fish has few rivals.
Many people who really would enjoy eating it are debarred from doing so by its being invariably badly cooked, or presented always in the same monotonous dress.
Phosphorus being essential for brain food, and as analysis has proved fish to contain a greater amount than almost any other article of diet, it is the more valuable still on this account.
The fish which afford the most nourishment are the kinds which most resemble meat, as salmon, mackerel, &c.; turbot and halibut, though strictly belonging to the "lighter" order, are very nourishing on account of the amount of meat which they bear in proportion to bone. The whiter kinds of fish are the most easily digestible, as soles or cod, whiting, &c., and some kinds of river fish, notably perch.
With the exception of trout - and perhaps pike - fresh-water fish are less esteemed than they deserve to be.
Salmon is sometimes called a river fish, though genuinely it is not so, as, although born in the river, the sea is its home and natural sphere.
In Parisian restaurants many dainty dishes are prepared from fish caught in the Seine; and in country places where seawater fish is often difficult to obtain, the ponds and rivers will often furnish excellent substitutes.
All fresh-water fish - with the exception of trout - is at its best in winter-time.
Shell-fish, perfectly harmless in themselves as they may be, exemplify the saying that "what is one man's meat is another man's poison"; accordingly, where they are found to disagree they should be strictly avoided.
Oysters, the most highly esteemed of shell-fish, are frequently ordered by the physician when it is desirable to unite great nourishment with easy digestion, the amount of gluten they contain giving them this valuable quality.
Lobsters are popularly considered to be the least harmful next to oysters, and the flesh of a fresh crab is both delicate and delicious.
Shrimps, prawns, and crayfish, should properly rank as "relishes"; they are extremely useful in savoury dishes, either with or without other fish.
Cockles are deservedly esteemed by the rich, and they have often staved off the pressure of starvation from the poor of our coasts.
The limpet is a great favourite with the Irish, while the periwinkle is the poor man's luxury, and the clam enjoys high favour in the United States.
Choosing and buying fish
Before coming to this important part of our subject, we would like to offer a suggestion (in all courtesy, be it understood) to our friends the fishmongers.
Why do they, we would ask, invariably establish themselves on the sunny side of the road ? Surely if any branch of trade requires coolness and shade it is the fish trade, yet how rare an exception to find one so situated. Then we would respectfully draw their attention to their way of handling the fish. Often it receives most unmerciful treatment, being knocked about on the marble slab with a force quite unnecessary. All fish suffer more or less, but delicate fish, such as soles, suffer in this way just as a ripe peach or pear does if subjected to the same treatment. The same difference can be detected in the bruised part of fish as in a bruised peach.
Also a too liberal pouring-on of water is injurious. No doubt the bright and well-washed fish, surrounded with lumps of ice, look far more tempting than the boat-load all smeared with blood, yet the fish would be much better if they did not see fresh water until they are to be dressed at home. In this matter, however, the fishmonger is to a large extent ruled by popular opinion, and if the latter forbids the purchase of fish in their more natural condition, he is perhaps justified in endeavouring to suit the fancy of his customers.
In choosing fish care should be taken not to judge too much by first appearances, although, fortunately, fish, if not fresh, soon tells its tale.
If the eyes are dull, or the skin and the scales rub off easily, avoid that fish. If the skin is bright, the flesh firm to the touch when pressed between the thumb and finger, you may rely upon its being fresh; stale fish, or that which has been kept long in ice, is always flabby.
One safe general direction for choosing fish may be given in few words, viz., choose the plump ones.
A short fish, thick about the shoulders, is much to be preferred to a long thin one. Thick soles, or thick turbots, are far preferable to thin ones. The same with codfish.
Lobsters and crabs should be chosen by weight, and those of medium size are best in flavour.
There are one or two kinds of fish which are positively improved by being kept a day or two, notably skate and red mullet.
Mackerel, on the contrary, is a fish than which none spoils more rapidly.
The sole holds a first position among flat fish, and is deservedly esteemed, as its flesh is firm and delicate and very easily digested, hence its great popularity with the sick. It has also the advantage of being obtainable all the year round in good condition. The skin of the back is sometimes dark, sometimes white, varying with the nature of the ground on which the fish feeds. Soles vary in size from quite little slips, called "tongues", to large fish weighing eight or nine pounds per pair. Those in roe are rather insipid in flavour, and are best for filleting. They vary in price, but are never a cheap fish.
Halibut is an excellent substitute for turbot, which it rather resembles in flavour, and is a comparatively cheap fish. It is abundant in spring and summertime, and always a favourite with Jewish people. Being a very large fish, it is rarely sold entire. The choice bits are the flackers over the fins and the pickings about the head.
A fillet or "steak" is the most profitable portion for general eating.
Cod is at its best about Christmas time. From the end of January to March it is less good and not abundant; in May again it is generally very fine. The best are those which are plump and round at the tail, the sides having a slightly ribbed appearance, with yellow spots on a clear skin.
Large cod are not generally cooked whole, being so much thicker at the head than at the tail. The head and shoulders, usually sold apart, form a handsome dish.
It is a very nourishing fish, valuable in many ways, and if its adaptabilities were more understood it would be more generally appreciated.
The salmon has been called the "king of fresh-water fish", yet, as before remarked, it does not belong to this category.
The river is its birthplace, it is true, but the sea is its pasture ground, where it returns periodically to renew its strength. It inhabits fresh and salt water alternately, spending its summer in the river and its winter in the sea. Just as the swallow returns again to the same roof which sheltered it, so the salmon returns again to the same river. This fact has been taken advantage of to naturalise salmon in rivers where formerly there were no signs of them. No stranger salmon cruising along the coast will mistake another river's mouth for the mouth of its own river.
The flesh is rich and delicious in flavour, and to be eaten in perfection it should be dressed as soon as caught; there will then be found between the flakes a creamy-white substance called "curd", which is highly esteemed by the epicure. Nevertheless, it is then highly indigestible; to be perfectly wholesome eating the salmon should be kept twenty-four hours, then the curd solidifies, and though perhaps less delicate in flavour, it is richer and far less likely to disagree.
In season from February to August; it is at its cheapest in July and August.
Salmon trout, though resembling salmon in flavour and appearance, are really not at all the same species. They rarely exceed two to three pounds in weight - generally they are but three-quarters of a pound. They are justly regarded as a great delicacy, and are at their best in spring and early summer. The flesh is sometimes white, sometimes red; the latter is the most prized.
When choosing salmon trout examine the inside of the throat through the gills. If this is very red the flesh will prove to be red, though not so red as salmon.
There are two or three kinds of trout: common, sea, and white trout. Sea trout reaches a good size, white trout never does. River trout are most delicious and highly esteemed; the most delicate in flavour are those which weigh from three quarters to one pound.
Trout, which is in season from May to September, is in perfection in June.
Carp and tench are pond rather than river fish, and both have a great fondness for burying themselves in mud, and owing to this the flesh has often a slight muddy taste; for this reason the fish should lie in strong salt and water for a few hours, then be well cleansed in clear spring water.
Both are at their best in the winter months. The tench, though a smaller fish, is richer and more delicate than the carp. They are useful fish to families residing in the country.
Although the pike attains to a considerable size in England, it is small in comparison with its brethren found in Russian and Lapland waters. Indeed it more truly deserves to be called a Russian fish, so much more abundant and popular is it there. In colour the skin is a pale olive grey, with several yellowish spots on the sides, and the mouth is furnished with a prodigious number of teeth, which has earned for it the name of "fresh-water shark".
It was at one time a very popular article of food, and is still considered a good fish for the table. In some countries the fish is salted and dried, and the roe made into caviare.
The perch, which is one of the commonest of our fresh-water fish, is also one of the best. It is met with in almost all lakes and rivers in temperate regions. When full-grown it is a large fish, although one weighing a pound is thought a good size, and one of three pounds very large. The flesh is white, firm, of a good flavour, and easily digested.
Perch are so tenacious of life, they may be carried fifty miles and yet survive the journey.
Best used as soon as caught, they are also better for being crimped as soon as they leave the water. Their season is from June to February.
Perhaps the most commonly used fish is the herring. Shoals of herring visit the British Islands from the end of May till October, and even occasionally during the winter months. In the beginning of the season the fish is rather oily, and often found to be indigestible on that account, but after the first few weeks this disappears, and then it becomes both digestible and nourishing.
In choosing herrings take care that they feel firm, and have bright eyes and scales.
Sprats closely resemble herrings in appearance and flavour, only they are but a third of the size of the latter. They are very abundant on the North British coasts, and in Edinburgh and Glasgow are sold by measure. Their best season is the winter time, and their freshness may be judged by their silvery appearance - or otherwise.
The highly esteemed smelt is a most delicate fish. When fresh it possesses an odour like a freshly-cut cucumber, but this perfume passes away twelve hours after it has been caught.
The Dutch fisheries furnish very fine smelts, and the baskets full of bright silvery little bodies look very tempting in the wholesale market. These are never what may be called cheap fish. In season from November to May. Smelts which have been split and dried are called sparlings.
Another fish which is cheap and plentiful in the winter months is the haddock. They seldom weigh more than from three to four pounds, and the largest are considered the best. They should be gutted as soon as possible, and hung up to dry with salt inside them. Scotch haddock have the highest reputation.
Among lesser known fish are the gurnet, dory, and ling. All of them are excellent eating. The dory resembles the turbot in flavour, and the gurnet has firm white flesh, of agreeable taste. In the early spring months ling is captured in large quantities off the Orkney and Shetland Isles.
Skate and plaice are both less thought of in England than they deserve to be; in France they are better appreciated. Skate improves by being hung up for a day before using. Young skate are called "maids" and their flesh is tender and delicate.
Plaice is in good condition when the body is thick and firm, the eyes bright, and the pale side tinged with pink.
Hake, or "white salmon", is a west country fish, common in Devonshire. In season in the autumn months.
Eels and lampreys, very rich, and not over wholesome, are mostly food for the epicure. They are useful in cookery where a succulent dish is required. The lamprey is but little met with in the present day.
The cooking of fish
The recipes given in this part have been gleaned from reliable sources. Many of them are from French cooks, and are strictly in accordance with the methods in use in the best "cuisines" where the cooking of fish receives great care and attention.
For greater convenience in reference the recipes for preparing the different kinds of fish are all classed under the name of each kind, and the names given in alphabetical order.
Perhaps the only ways of properly cooking fish are baking and broiling, yet these are precisely the ways least practised - out of France. Boiling and frying have hitherto held too great a monopoly in our methods. In the following pages, while giving the latter modes their due share o£ attention, we beg to call for special notice to be given to the examples for broiling, &c., as they may be relied upon to bring about a satisfactory result if carefully followed.
To begin with a few general directions:
In broiling a perfectly clear fire is absolutely indispensable; more so in the case of fish than when intending to cook steak or chops. A shovel-full of good cinders, slightly wetted, and given sufficient time to become red-hot, will generally ensure a good surface heat, but a charcoal "braisière" is par-excellence the fire for this purpose, and no French housewife considers her kitchen complete without this little contrivance. A little charcoal sprinkled over some hot coals is not a bad substitute for it.
A special gridiron should be kept for fish only. After using, let it be thoroughly washed and dried, and before using again rub the bars over with a little oil; fish is more easily marked, and apt to stick sooner than meat.
If the gridiron is not a double one, use a pair of sugar-tongs with which to turn the fish over; beware of sticking a fork into it. There can be no doubt that grilling brings out a flavour which nothing else will.
What can surpass a fresh mackerel, grilled after being split open and boned ?
An important point to bear in mind in this method of cookery is, to keep in the flavour. A slice of grilled salmon will taste far nicer if the slice has been wrapped in buttered paper; but cooking anything in paper requires the greatest care, as should there be the least flare the paper will catch fire - what is required is a fierce heat.
When baking fish en papillot, that is wrapped in buttered paper, the chief thing to bear in mind is not to spare the butter. This, one of the most delicate and delicious ways of cooking fish, is apt to be entirely spoilt, because only a little dab of butter is allowed. When fish has been cooked in paper it should be sent to table just as it is, paper and all. Always use plain white note paper, never printed.
In boiling fish a very common fault is omitting to put sufficient salt into the water. In the case of large fish, salt should be added in the proportion of half a pound to a gallon of water; for smaller fish, a proportion of a quarter-pound to the gallon is sufficient.
It is now generally thought best to place fish in nearly boiling water, then allow it to come gently to the boiling point again, this keeps in the flavour on the same principle as the boiling of meat. The time allowed depends entirely on the size of the fish, but when the flesh shows signs of being just able to be separated from the bone, it is amply done.
Experience is the only safe guide.
To preserve the whiteness of white fish, it is wise to rub them over with lemon juice before boiling.
One method of boiling fish, when it is intended for eating cold, which is much approved of on the Continent, is to do it in "court-bouillon", and if fresh-water fish be cooked this way it is relieved of much of its insipidity.
One part of vinegar, one part of red wine, to four parts of water, for the "bouillon". To two quarts of the liquor put an ounce of salt, half an ounce of pepper, a bunch of savoury herbs, a sliced onion and a carrot. Sometimes a small piece of salt bacon is also added. Let these all boil together for some time, then strain the liquor and keep in a stone jar. It will keep a long time if occasionally re-boiled.
The fish should be well covered with the liquid when laid in the fish-kettle, and allowed to boil gradually.
To fry fish successfully it should be literally boiled in fat. This cannot be done over a slow or smoky fire, neither can it be done unless an abundance of fat be allowed. It is not an extravagant method, even if the pan be a large one, and it takes two or three pounds to fill it. If carefully poured into a basin containing boiling water after the fish has been cooked, the loose breadcrumbs and other particles will fall to the bottom, and the fat form a clear white crust. When due care is exercised there is no reason why the same fat should not be used fifty times over.
Let it be quite boiling when the fish is put in. This may be known by its perfect stillness and the faint blue vapour which will rise from it. When the fish has been washed and carefully dried, flour it before dipping into beaten egg, and use brown raspings in preference to breadcrumbs.
Lay a small piece of blotting-paper at the bottom of the dish to absorb all grease.
Various recipes for baking fish are given in the following pages. Perhaps one of the nicest ways of doing fish in the oven is au gratin. Briefly described, this consists of a layer of mixed herbs and breadcrumbs laid first at the bottom of a well-buttered dish, the fish laid on this, then the same ingredients with seasoning and more butter over it. Very often a glass of wine or vinegar is added.
Anything cooked au gratin must always come to table in the dish in which it was cooked, hence the gratin-dish, sometimes of silver, sometimes of polished tin or fire-proof china, is another kitchen requisite almost indispensable.
When intending to use salted fish for any dish it should always be allowed to lie in water at least twenty-four hours previously, and the water should be changed frequently; then drain and dry thoroughly.
Anchovies are the only fish which come under this letter. They are usually bought in pickle from grocers and oilmen, and ought to soak in cold water before they are used. The small, plump ones are the best - the pickle is red, the scales of the fish white. If cut into fillets and added to sliced cucumber, hard-boiled egg, also sliced, minced parsley and herbs, and dressed with the usual salad dressing, they form an acceptable variety in the salad series.
Anchovies, Essence of (home-made), is made by beating to a paste half-a-pound of anchovies, bones also, then adding a pint of raisin wine to the paste and boiling both together until it is dissolved. For seasoning add a very small quantity of cayenne pepper, two or three Jamaica peppercorns and three or four shallots. Home-made essence is greatly superior in flavour to that which can be bought.
Anchovy Butter is prepared by pounding to a paste half-a-pound of anchovies with half that weight of butter. A pinch of cayenne is an improvement. This butter is especially useful for flavouring sauces for meat and fish, and if kept in very small pots, closely covered, it will remain good for some time. Anchovy Paste, so much liked for sandwiches, is made in the same way.
Anchovy Sauce. Two ounces of butter melted, two tablespoonfuls of flour mixed smoothly with it, a tumblerful of boiling water. When this has boiled stir in gradually three teaspoonfuls of the essence of anchovies, and add the juice of half a lemon; let all boil once more, then pour into a tureen.
Barbel. This is but a poor fish, being woolly and rather flavourless. It may be made palatable by cutting in pieces, then steeping in a marinade of oil, pepper and salt, for half an hour, after which broil the pieces over the fire, and serve with maître d'hôtel butter.
Bloaters. The smoked bloaters should be scalded with boiling water, then dried. The bones can often be drawn off after this, before cooking. They may either be broiled over the fire for a moment, or cooked in the oven with a morsel of butter. Before broiling fresh bloaters split them open down the middle, remove the backbone and cleanse them. Sprinkle with pepper and salt, and drop a morsel of butter on each before bringing to table.
Bream is a handsome, although not a delicate fish. It must be thoroughly cleansed and washed out with vinegar. Split it open and remove the bone, but do not scale it. It is best broiled, but is excellent if stuffed with a little forcemeat, then baked in the oven for twenty minutes. Melted butter, caper sauce, or anchovy sauce, must accompany it to table.
Brill, This fish has an excellent reputation, resembling turbot so nearly; it may be cooked in almost every way recommended for the latter. Thick brill are the best, and a yellowish hue in the flesh denotes its freshness. Lay it in salted water for a few minutes, then dry it and rub with the juice of a lemon. When boiling brill allow plenty of salt in the water, and half a teacupful of lemon juice. Let it simmer gently after reaching boiling point till just tender through. Lay on a clean serviette, the white side uppermost, garnish with cut lemon and parsley, also a sprinkling of lobster coral.
Carp, Baked. After washing and scaling, remove the inside of the carp, squeeze over it the juice of one or two lemons and let it lie thus for an hour. Next place it in a baking tin, sprinkle some minced parsley and shallots over it, also pepper and salt, then pour a little oiled butter over all. Cover with white paper and bake for upwards of forty minutes - gently. Make a little thick melted butter, enrich it further with a spoonful of cream, stir in the juice of half a lemon, and more salt and pepper - cayenne if liked. Lift the carp on to a dish, pour this sauce over it, garnish with chopped gherkins and lobster coral.
Carp, Fried. Cut the fish into fillets after having thoroughly cleansed it. Roll each fillet in flour seasoned with salt and cayenne. Fry in a depth of boiling fat, serve with anchovy sauce.
Carp, Grilled. Only very small carp can be cooked this way, and they should be wrapped in buttered papers, after having been washed and emptied. Serve with a piquant sauce of minced herbs, lemon-juice and butter.
Carp, Stewed. Carp are excellent treated this way if rather large. After washing in vinegar and water, cut the fish into fair-sized pieces, roll each piece in seasoned flour, then lay in a covered stew-pan, and pour a tumblerful of white wine over them. Allow nearly an hour for the cooking, then when done remove the pieces of fish carefully on to a dish, stir in a tablespoonful of grated horseradish, a little cream, and the beaten yolk of an egg into the sauce, and pour it over the carp. If boiled in "court-bouillon", carp is equally good for eating cold.
Caveach Fish. Clean some large fish, such as cod or salmon, then cut them into slices. Rub each slice with salt, pepper and spice, and fry in boiling fat till lightly browned. Let them drain and get quite cold, then lay in deep jars. Boil some vinegar with a few shallots, peppercorns, a bay leaf and blade of mace; when this is cold fill the jars nearly full with this, pour a little salad oil on the top and cover closely. They will keep for months, and when required the slices are lifted out, placed in the centre of a dish with dressed salad round them.
Clams. Clams, which are a species of cockle, were declared by the great Soyer to be superior to the oyster in flavour. They are very nice if fried, after dipping into beaten egg and breadcrumbs. In America they are stewed. Put into a stew-pan with a little water, they are boiled for a few minutes, then seasoned with pepper and salt.
Cockles. Cockles should be roasted on a tin laid on the top of a stove; they are eaten whilst hot with bread and butter. They require to be well washed, and the shells scrubbed with a brush.
Cod, Baked. Take a piece weighing about three pounds out of the middle of a large fish. Make a simple forcemeat of breadcrumbs, minced parsley, thyme, seasoning, and the yolk of an egg; put this inside the fish and sew it up. Place in a baking-dish, and surround with a carrot sliced, and also a turnip and small onion. Pour a spoonful of vinegar over, and place two or three lumps of butter on the top; bake for twenty minutes. Remove the vegetables, but serve the liquor with the fish instead of sauce.
Cod, Fried à la Maître d'hôtel. Take two or three slices of cod about an inch and a half in thickness, let them lie in salt water for half an hour, then drain and dry them. Cover with seasoned flour, and fry in a quantity of boiling fat for a few minutes. Pile in pyramid form on a hot dish, pouring the following sauce round them: two table-spoonfuls of fresh green parsley chopped small, two ounces of butter, half an ounce of flour, a little salt, pepper, and a spoonful of vinegar; add a little water if it thickens too much. Mix the ingredients well, let them boil up once, then serve.
Cod, à la Crème. The remains of boiled cod will do excellently well for this, or if fresh fish is used it must be first boiled till tender, then broken into flakes, all skin and bone removed. Into a saucepan put a pint of milk with a teaspoonful of salt and the rind of a lemon. Let this boil once, then pour off into a basin. In the saucepan melt an ounce of butter and stir in smoothly an ounce of flour, add a pinch of cayenne pepper, then the milk, and boil all together until thick. Put in the flakes of cod to heat through, then pour all on to a hot dish, garnish with tufts of parsley, and pass round strips of toasted bread to eat with it.
Cod, Curried. Take the remains of cold boiled cod broken into flakes, fry them a moment in butter. Lay them aside on a hot plate and prepare the curry. For this put an ounce of butter into a saucepan and slice into it two shallots and one small apple. When these have frizzled brown stir in a tablespoonful of flour, half a teaspoonful of curry powder, the same of salt, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, and lastly a teacupful of stock. Let this boil a few minutes, then put in the cod to warm up, and serve quickly. A wall of boiled rice round the edge of the dish is an improvement.
Cod, Salted, with Parsnips. Take a couple of pounds of salted cod, let it soak for twenty-four hours, then drain, and pouring fresh cold water over it let it heat through gradually. It should simmer until tender, but must not boil, or it will become hard. Drain again, lay on a hot dish, garnish with boiled parsnips cut into lengths, and cover all with egg sauce, made as follows: half a pint of milk thickened with flour, a small bit of butter, salt, pepper, the juice of a lemon, and two hard-boiled eggs chopped small and stirred in. Garnish the dish with parsley.
Cod, Salted, en Mousse. Soak and cook the cod as in the previous recipe, then drain and break into flakes. Frizzle a slice of a Spanish onion in a small quantity of butter, but do not brown it. Scald the soft part of a slice of white bread, break it with a fork, then add to the onion, and at the same time add gradually a cupful of new milk. Continue to beat until all is quite smooth, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add the flakes of cod, still continuing to beat. If becoming too stiff add more milk. When all is light and like a froth, pour on to a dish and dot small bits of fried or toasted crusts about the surface.
Cod, Head and Shoulders Boiled. A portion or the whole of a large fish, when intended for boiling, should be previously crimped, when it should receive some deep cuts as far as the bone on both sides. Afterwards it should lie in vinegar and water for half an hour. It should be plunged at once into boiling water, then allowed to simmer till just tender. Drain, and serve on a white d'oyley, garnished with lemon and-parsley. Crimping renders the flesh firmer, and makes it easier both to cook and to serve.
Crab. The crabs which have a rough shell and claws are the best. When choosing one shake it well; if it rattle it is sure to prove watery. The shell should be of a bright red, and the eyes look clear. In picking out the meat from the shell and claws leave out the part near the head, which is not fit to be eaten.
Crab, Hot Buttered. Pick the meat from the shell of a crab, mix with half its quantity of breadcrumbs, a little pepper, salt, grated nutmeg, a spoonful of salad oil and the same of vinegar. Clean the empty shell, then refill it with this mixture, sprinkle more crumbs over the top, then a nob of butter, and bake for nearly ten minutes. To eat with hot dry toast.
Crab, Salad. Pick the meat from the shell into flakes, make a pile in the centre of a dish, leaving the claws on the top; surround with shred lettuce and watercress, and pour a simple salad dressing over all.
Crab Soup, or Potage Bisque. This is most delicious and delicate. Choose a nice heavy crab, pick out the meat from the claws into shreds. The soft meat from the inside of the body is pounded in a mortar with half its quantity of boiled rice; this is thinned a little with some clear stock, then passed through a colander. Put this into a stew-pan with sufficient stock to make the required quantity (veal stock is preferable), add a cupful of thickened cream, salt to taste, and a little cayenne pepper, let it boil once only, then take from the fire and add the shredded meat from the claws. A little lobster butter stirred in will make it a richer colour.
Make potage from lobster or crayfish in exactly the same manner. The result will be almost as satisfactory.
Crayfish. Crayfish resemble lobsters in flavour, but they are smaller, and the flesh is more delicate. Those which are red under the claws are the best. Wash them well, and boil in salt water for ten minutes, after which they will become a bright red. Drain well, then pile in pyramid form, and garnish with parsley. A pretty dish may be made from them by preparing a clear savoury jelly, and arranging the crayfish in a fancy mould - minus the tails - filling in all spaces with the jelly.
Crayfish, as a Breakfast Relish. Remove the tails from a pint of crayfish, put the bodies to simmer gently in a saucepan with an ounce of butter, a teacupful of water, a spoonful of vinegar, grate of nutmeg, and a little salt and pepper. Simmer for ten minutes, thicken with flour, and pour over a slice of toast. Crayfish may also be potted like shrimps.
Dabs. These insignificant little fish are caught in the mouths of rivers near the sea. They are nice if fried, but more tasty if wrapped in buttered paper and baked for fifteen minutes. Send to table with sliced lemon.
Dace. This fish scarcely repays the trouble of cooking, and is usually only enjoyed by the angler who has caught it. It may be either fried or boiled. A little sharp sauce with lemon juice and mustard are almost necessary accompaniments.
Dory. Although by no means a handsome fish, yet the dory has a flavour which makes it excellent eating. It is best boiled, or rather simmered after it has boiled once, twenty minutes for a fair-sized fish. Serve on a napkin, garnished with parsley. Anchovy, shrimp, or caper sauce, are all suitable for serving with boiled dory.
Eels, en Matelote. Skin and clean about two pounds of eels, divide into pieces of two inches long, let them lie in salt water while some onions are being fried in butter. When the onions have browned, stir in flour to absorb all the butter, then a cupful of stock and the same of red wine, a few mushrooms, pepper and salt, and a pinch of herbs. Stew the eels in this gravy until thoroughly tender, about forty minutes. Serve altogether.
Eels, Boiled, for Invalids. When the skin has been drawn off the eel, and it has lain in salt water to cleanse it, it should be placed before a clear fire for ten minutes to draw out the oil. Wash again in warm water, and set to boil in a saucepan with a bunch of parsley and spoonful of salt. When tender take it out, divide into lengths, thicken a small quantity of the broth, add cream and chopped parsley, and pour over the eel.
Findon, or "Finnan," Haddocks. The Findon haddock, so highly esteemed for its delicate flavour, may be distinguished by its odour and creamy yellow colour. The skin should be stripped off, and the fish broiled quickly over a clear fire. Rub butter over it before bringing to table.
Flounders. Flounders may be boiled, baked, fried, or stewed. As they are apt to have a slight muddy flavour, they should lie in salt water for a while. Perhaps the nicest way of cooking them is to dip them into beaten egg, cover with raspings, and boil them in fat.
Flounders may also be done au gratin by laying the fish (neatly trimmed) on a bed of chopped shallots and parsley, breadcrumbs and butter, covering them with the same, then adding a glass of white wine, and baking for twenty minutes. Allow at least one for each person.
Gurnet. The head of the gurnet is large in comparison with the rest of the body. It is apt to be a dirty fish, and needs very thorough cleansing. The gills should be cut off. Perhaps the best way of cooking it is to remove the head and the inside, stuff it with a forcemeat, sew the body up and lay it in a deep tin, covering with a slice or two of salt fat. Bake for half an hour, then remove on to a hot dish, and pour maître d'hôtel butter over it.
Haddock, Broiled. Draw and clean the haddock very thoroughly, wiping it perfectly dry. Dredge with flour, then pour a little salad oil over it. Lay on the gridiron and broil quickly. When brown and crisp it is done. Serve with anchovy sauce.
Haddock, Baked. Empty and wash the fish, scaling it carefully; let it lie in vinegar for fifteen minutes, then dry it, dredge with flour, cover with beaten egg, then with breadcrumbs, and lay in a greased baking-dish. Pour melted butter over it, and bake about twenty minutes. The gravy which comes from the fish may be seasoned and sent to table with it. Garnish with cut lemons.
Haddock, Curried. Choose small haddocks for this purpose. Split them open, remove bones and the head, divide into convenient-sized pieces. Dip each piece into seasoned flour and fry till crisp and brown. Prepare a curry sauce by frizzling a small onion and an apple in butter, thickening with flour, adding seasoning and a little curry powder and clear stock to make the requisite quantity. Put the fish into this sauce to heat through, then pile in the centre of a dish and pour the sauce over. Garnish with rice.
Halibut. Being very large fish, perhaps the most satisfactory way of dealing with halibut is to cut them into steaks, viz., slices across the fish of any thickness desired. They may be either broiled or fried. When broiling, sprinkle them with seasoning, and let them lie in salad oil for a few minutes, then drain and broil quickly over a bright fire. Lay on a hot dish, squeeze lemon juice over, and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
For frying, the steaks may be either dredged with flour, or dipped in egg and breadcrumbs, then fried in a shallow depth of fat till lightly brown. Drain on blotting paper, and send shrimp or anchovy sauce to table with them.
Boiling is the least satisfactory way of cooking halibut, but if it be chosen, have the fish in one thick piece. Put into boiling water, and simmer gently until the fish shows signs of parting from the bone.
Halibut Pie. Take a piece of the middle of the fish, remove all skin, and cut into pieces an inch square. Roll each piece in a mixture of salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs, place in a pie-dish with lumps of butter at the top. Pour a glass of white wine over. Cover with a "short" crust, and when this has baked until well brown, the fish also will be done.
Herrings, Boiled. Few fish are more delicious than fresh herrings boiled. Wash, scale, and empty them very particularly. Souse them with vinegar, then drop into boiling salted water, simmer for about ten minutes, and lift them out the moment they are done. Drain them, arrange nicely on a clean napkin, garnish with parsley and horseradish, and serve parsley sauce with them.
Herrings, Broiled. Let them lie in salt overnight, wash them, empty, and split them open. Dry thoroughly, and dredge a little flour over them. Lay on an oiled gridiron, broil on both sides. Lay each one separately on a hot plate, and place a morsel of butter on the top. Then pour the following sauce over them: a tablespoonful of chopped parsley, the same of minced herbs, and a suspicion of onion, same of butter, a teaspoonful of salt and pepper mixed, a wineglassful of vinegar; boil altogether for a moment.
Herrings, Pickled (to eat cold). Scale and clean the herrings carefully, split them open and take out the backbone. Sprinkle with salt and pepper after laying in a deep dish. Cover with vinegar and water. Bake till tender through.
Herrings, Pickled (French mode). Scale and clean the herrings, empty without splitting them. Cut off the heads, and put the fish into an earthen jar, strew salt liberally over them; let them lie twenty-four hours. Drain them and place them in an enamelled saucepan with a dozen peppercorns, a bay-leaf or two, and an onion with a clove. Cover with cold vinegar. Let them come to boiling point, and boil two minutes only. Stand aside until quite cold, when they may be placed in a covered jar. They will keep good for some time.
Lampreys, Stewed. Rub the lamprey well with salt, and wash it in water (warm) to get rid of the slime. Cut off the head, tail, and gills, empty it, then cut into pieces three inches long. Slice three or four onions into the bottom of a stew-pan, dip each piece of lamprey into flour, and lay over the onions. Add next a dozen mushrooms, a tablespoonful of chopped parsley, grated lemon-rind and a little juice, pepper, and salt. A glassful of red wine and sufficient stock to cover the whole, replace the lid, and stew gently for two hours. Serve altogether.
Ling, Baked. Cleanse and empty the fish, cut it into thick slices, removing the head and tail. Dredge the slices with flour, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay them in a baking-dish, and pour some melted butter over them. Bake for twenty minutes, place the slices of fish on a hot dish, then add a cupful of cream and a small tinful of button mushrooms to the butter, make thoroughly hot and pour over the fish just before bringing to table.
Or, the slices of ling may be dipped into beaten egg, covered with raspings, and fried in hot fat, a sauce rémoulade being brought to table with them.
Lobster, à la crème Pick the meat from a fresh lobster without breaking the shell; cut it into dice. Put into an enamelled saucepan with a mixed teaspoonful of salt, pepper, and nutmeg, a glassful of white wine, a tablespoonful of vinegar, and an ounce of butter rolled in flour. Simmer gently for ten minutes, stirring all the time. Then stir in two tablespoonfuls of thickened cream. Pour the mixture into the shell of the lobster, cover the top with breadcrumbs, brown quickly in the oven, then set the shell on a folded napkin, and garnish with parsley.
Lobster Cutlets. A large lobster is required for these. Boil for live minutes, then crack the shell and take out the meat as whole as possible. Cut this across in slices a quarter of an inch in thickness. Dip each shoe into beaten egg and breadcrumbs, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and fry in fat for about five minutes. Make a small mound of whipped potato for the centre of a dish, arrange the cutlets round this, and send oyster sauce to table with them.
Lobster Patties. Boil a lobster for fifteen minutes. Crack it open and pick the meat out into flakes. Put the flakes into an enamelled saucepan with an ounce of butter, a tablespoonful of cream, same of white stock, and a teaspoonful of essence of anchovies, a little seasoning also, and a few dry breadcrumbs. Boil up for a moment. Line some patty-pans with good puff paste not rolled too thinly, place a morsel of crumb of bread in the middle before putting on the top crust; bake the patties a bright brown, lift off the top crust, take out the bread, fill with the hot mixture, and replace the cover. Serve very hot.
Lobster Salad. For this the lobster is required very sweet and fresh; it should have been boiled about twenty minutes and then have become quite cold. Crack the shell and remove the meat as whole as possible, saving the coral for garnishing. Divide the meat into small neat pieces, seasoning each with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Take two lettuces with firm, white hearts, wipe them clean with a cloth. They must be crisp and perfectly dry. Place first a layer of shred lettuce at the bottom of a bowl, then a layer of seasoned lobster; alternate till the stock is exhausted. Pour the following dressing over all at the last moment, and sprinkle the coral over the surface. A fanciful outer edge may be made of sliced eggs and beetroot, or nasturtium flowers, radishes set in parsley, &c.
Dressing. The yolks of two eggs beaten until thick, a salt-spoonful of salt, half of pepper, same of made mustard. Beat in slowly half a pint of oil and two spoonfuls of vinegar.
Lobster Butter, and Sauce. The spawn and coral of a freshly-boiled hen lobster, pounded together in a mortar with twice their quantity of fresh butter and a spice of cayenne pepper, makes lobster butter. It should be of a bright red colour. Keep in small pots well covered, and in a cool place.
For the sauce, make some good plain melted butter, pick out a few flakes of the white meat of a lobster, then stir in a spoonful of the lobster butter. Do not boil it after this, or the colour will be spoilt. The juice of a lemon may be added if liked.
Mackerel, Broiled. For a perfectly fresh, small, plump mackerel, this is the mode of cooking par excellence.
Cleanse the fish thoroughly, and dry them first with a cloth, then by hanging up in the open air. Split them open flat and carefully remove the backbone. Smear them with salad oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, wrap each one in a fold of buttered note-paper, and lay on the gridiron. Broil carefully over a clear red fire for twenty minutes, turning occasionally. They may be broiled without the paper, in which case fifteen minutes will be more than long enough, but will taste less delicate and be less easily digested. Lay on a hot dish, cover closely, and serve with or without maître d'hôtel butter.
Mackerel, Baked. Large mackerel are preferable for this mode. After cleaning and taking out the roes, fill with the following forcemeat: three ounces of breadcrumbs, an ounce of finely-shred beef suet, the same of chopped parsley, a pinch of savoury herbs, minced chives, and pepper and salt. Bind the mixture with a beaten egg. When the fish has been filled, sew the sides together with strong thread, lay it on a baking dish, dredge a little flour over it, and pour over either some melted butter or clarified fat. Bake twenty minutes. Serve with the same butter to the which some chopped parsley has been added, or with a sauce piquante.
Mackerel, Boiled. Wash and empty them without splitting them more than can be helped. Lay them in hot water with plenty of salt. Let the water come to a boil, then draw aside and simmer them till the skin shows signs of breaking. Drain, and serve on a clean serviette. Garnish with parsley. Serve either parsley or fennel sauce with them.
Mullet, Red. These fish are much the best if cooked in buttered paper. They may be roast, baked, or boiled - all ways are excellent if the precaution of wrapping up be observed. A liberal share of butter should be enclosed with them. The gills and fins only are removed; the inside remains untouched, as the liver is much esteemed. Cook them about twenty-five minutes, take out of the papers, and serve with plenty of sauce in a tureen. Add the liquor which has oozed from the fish to some plain melted butter, with a spoonful of anchovy sauce, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a glassful of some good red wine.
Mullet, Red (Broiled à la maître d'hôtel). Clean the mullet and empty them, score them across in several places, lay them to soak in a marinade of salad oil and minced sweet herbs - garlic also if the taste is liked. Let them lie in this for half an hour. Drain them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, lay on a gridiron, and broil over a clear fire, turning on both sides.
Mullet, Grey. The grey mullet is but seldom offered for sale. It is generally thought much inferior to the red, and is only seasonable during the heat of summer. It may be cooked in any of the ways given for mackerel or for red mullet.
Oysters. Oysters are never so excellent or so easy of digestion as when they are eaten straight out of the newly-opened shell. If carefully opened, and none of the juice be spilt, they will need no seasoning; but if it be preferred, salt and pepper may be sprinkled over them, also a squeeze of lemon juice. Brown bread and butter is the usual accompaniment to them.
Oysters, Browned in their own gravy. This is a very dainty dish. Take a dozen or more large oysters, open them carefully, and pour the juice from each one into a cup. Take off the beards, dip each oyster into beaten egg thickened with flour. Brown them in a little butter, lift them out, add the gravy from the cup to the butter, thicken with flour, and season with pepper and salt. Let it simmer for two or three minutes, then stir in the browned oysters; let them heat through again, then pour over a slice of toast.
Oysters, au Gratin. Butter a bright tin or silver gratin-dish. Stir into a few ounces of breadcrumbs a spoonful of chopped parsley and sweet herbs with seasoning. Sprinkle these thickly over the butter, and moisten with white wine. Then split open two dozen large oysters, take off the beards, and lay each oyster on the bed in the dish, pouring the juice over as well. Cover them with a few more crumbs, place three or four nobs of butter on the top, and bake in a moderate oven for ten minutes. Bring to table in the dish.
Perch. The best way of dressing perch is in water souchy. Remember always to clean the perch first with a little warm water to take off the slime, then lay them in cold salt water for an hour or so. Pick out the smallest of the fish for the souchy, empty them, cut into pieces, boil them slowly with some parsley-root, peppercorns, and salt. Strain the broth (for the ingredients should boil until a strong broth is obtained) through a muslin. The large perch should be crimped, after being cleaned, then placed in the broth and simmered until just tender. Drain them, serve in a deep dish with a ladleful of the broth poured over them, and garnished with green parsley. A little fresh parsley, chopped, may be introduced into the broth if liked.
Perch may also be laid in a marinade (after being cleansed) then broiled over the fire. It is well if, after lifting them out of the marinade, they are liberally besprinkled with seasoned breadcrumbs and herbs. Broil till lightly browned, lay on a hot dish, a nob of butter on each, and garnish. Serve a little sharp sauce with them.
If economy is not to be studied, they are very nice if stewed in wine - sherry, or equal parts of sherry and clear stock. Lay the perch in a deep dish, and just cover them with the above. Slice an onion very thinly, lay over them with a few sprigs of parsley, thyme, a bay-leaf, and some peppercorns, sprinkle liberally with salt, and let them simmer gently for about twenty minutes. Make a sauce from the liquor by thickening it with butter rolled in flour, and serve poured over the fish.
Pike, Baked. Pike must be scaled after washing them. To scale it easily, first pour boiling water over the fish, then plunge immediately into cold water, and scrape briskly with the back of a knife. Wipe the fish dry, then empty it, and fill the cavity with a nicely seasoned forcemeat, sew up the sides, and lay in a baking dish. Lay several large lumps of butter about it, and pour over a glassful of white wine or clear broth. Bake it in a moderate oven for half an hour - a large fish will take even longer. It should be basted frequently, being a dry fish. Good beef dripping will answer as well as butter. When done, lift the fish carefully on to a hot dish, and thicken the gravy with flour; add a spoonful of anchovy sauce, the same of mushroom ketchup, cayenne pepper, and salt. Let them boil up again, then stir in a spoonful of capers, and pour the sauce into a tureen. The fish may be garnished with horse-radish, fresh parsley, or small ripe tomatoes, if available.
Pike may be boiled, letting it lie in vinegar some time previously, and placing it in very hot water or stock, with an onion and bunch of sweet herbs. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until tender. Serve it on a clean napkin with cut lemons and parsley; send a sharp sauce to table with it.
The remains of cold boiled pike, or slices cut from a fresh fish, may be dipped into egg and breadcrumbs and fried in fat. They will be found very good, especially if accompanied by a dish of green vegetable, as spinach, or a fresh salad.
Plaice. Perhaps the very nicest way of dressing plaice is to cut the fish into fillets, then to dip these into beaten egg and raspings, and fry them. Place each fillet on a round of fried bread, and put a tiny pat of anchovy butter on the top of each, giving a sprinkle of pepper and salt as well, and thus they will be found to be very appetising.
Plaice, au Gratin. Steep the fish in salt water for an hour or two, cleanse and empty it, leaving the head untouched. Dry it thoroughly, and take a dish that will just hold it. First melt a little beef dripping in that, then put a layer of crumbs, a tablespoonful of finely-minced suet, parsley, shallots, and seasoning. On this lay the plaice, white side uppermost, cover with the same order, and squeeze the juice of a lemon over the top. Set in the oven, which should be hot enough to brown the surface quickly. Twenty minutes is ample for a good-sized fish. Serve in the same dish.
Plaice, Boiled. Large plaice should be chosen for boiling. Cut a slit from the head downwards through the middle of the back, to prevent the white side breaking. Lay it in the fish-kettle with sufficient cold water to cover it, and a teacupful of vinegar. Let it come quickly to boiling point, then simmer for about five minutes longer. Serve with shrimp or caper sauce.
Prawns. Prawns much resemble shrimps, but are larger in size and more delicate in flavour. When fresh they are of a bright red colour, and very firm.
Prawn Soup. Mince together till quite fine, a carrot, onion, stick of celery, and small turnip. Melt a little butter in a stew-pan, put in the vegetables and let them simmer for a quarter of an hour, stirring well about. Heat a quart of clear stock, take a thick slice of white bread and cut it into dice, leaving out the crust, let it boil in the liquor, then add the vegetables with the butter, and a tablespoonful of salt. Boil all together. Take fifty prawns, pick out the tails, and stew the bodies in a glass of wine, press them through a colander and mix with the soup. Add then a pinch of cayenne pepper, a teaspoonful of anchovy butter, and a dessertspoonful of lemon juice. Allow all to boil five minutes longer, and pour over fried croutons into a tureen.
Ray, or Maids. This fish is the young skate, and, like the latter, it is improved by being hung for a day. It is nicest if cut into fillets and fried. It may be boiled for a few minutes in "court bouillon" or, after being par-boiled, it may be cut into slices, dipped in oil, dredged with flour, and laid on a gridiron to broil for a few moments longer. Minced parsley and shallots simmered in butter, with a tablespoonful of vinegar, and seasoning of pepper and salt, should form a gravy to accompany the fillets.
Roach. The roach is a small freshwater fish of a firm compact flesh. It is best fried. Wash and empty the fish, dredge flour over them when dry, fry them in hot fat for about five minutes. Send anchovy or some very tasty sauce to table with them.
Salmon. For boiling purposes choose salmon with small heads and thick shoulders, or if buying only a portion of a fish, choose a piece of the middle or the head and shoulders.
After cleaning the fish, cut off the fins and gills and scrape the scales carefully. Lay it in nearly boiling water with plenty of salt in it; let the water well cover the fish. Allow the water to come to boiling point, then boil gently until a silver fork will pass through the thickest part. As a general rule allow eight minutes to the pound if the fish is a thick one, five or six minutes if it be a thin one. Experience is the only safe guide. It is well to wrap the fish in a thin linen cloth before putting it in the pan; only be careful in removing the cloth when the fish is done, lest it be broken. Lay the fish on a folded napkin, and garnish with tufts of parsley, tomatoes, and a few prawns.
Salmon, Broiled. For broiling purposes slices across the fish about an inch thick are preferable. If nicely cut and rubbed with a little melted butter, sprinkled with pepper and salt, laid on the gridiron and broiled on both sides over a very clear hot fire, turning every two or three minutes till done, then laid on a hot dish with a pat of fresh butter on each cutlet, and garnished with whatever is best obtainable, they are indeed truly admirable. Shrimp sauce, or maître d'hôtel butter might accompany them. A dish of green peas, either plainly boiled, or sautéd in butter, is a most delicious accompaniment to salmon cutlets.
Salmon, Baked. Take a piece two or three pounds in weight, either from the middle or the tail end. Lay it in a deep pie-dish, surround it with a few small shallots and sound red tomatoes, dredge a little flour over it, sprinkle with pepper and salt, lay several small pats of butter on the top, and pour a glassful of white wine into the dish. Place the dish in a moderately hot oven and bake for from three-quarters to an hour. When done, lift the fish on to a dish and keep hot while preparing the sauce. Press the tomatoes and shallots through a colander or hair sieve, add to the liquor in the dish, with also a teaspoonful each of made mustard, vinegar, flour, and Worcestershire sauce; let this boil up once, then pour round the fish. Garnish with curled parsley and a few choice tomatoes. Serve whipped potatoes with it, and cucumbers sliced in vinegar.
Salmon Crumbs. A dish much liked in the North of Ireland.
The remains of cold boiled salmon are divided into flakes and mixed with half their quantity of stale breadcrumbs, a tablespoonful of fresh butter, pepper, salt, a spoonful of vinegar, and one or two beaten eggs. Butter a shallow pie-dish, strew with crumbs, then press the mixture into it, and bake till brown. Any nice sauce, or a freshly-dressed salad, may be served with this dish.
Salmon Fritters. Take the remains of cold cooked salmon, remove the skin and bone and break the flesh into flakes. Mix with these an equal quantity of mashed potatoes, add pepper and salt and an egg to bind the whole together. Make the mixture into small flat cakes or fritters, coat each one with beaten egg, and dredge with flour; melt a little nice dripping in a shallow frying-pan, fry the fritters first on one side, then on the other, till they are a nice brown colour, drain and keep hot while preparing the following: The heart of a crisp white lettuce, shred, and piled in the centre of a dish, two hard-boiled eggs shelled and minced small, strewn over this; make a dressing with salt and pepper, one spoonful of vinegar and two of oil, the whole of a shallot, some chives and parsley finely minced, all mixed together, then poured over the lettuce. Sprinkle a little lobster coral over the surface, place the fritters round the base, and serve at once. This is a nice supper dish.
Salmon Trout. These are rightly esteemed a great delicacy. They may be dressed and served according to the recipes given for salmon, although boiling is the least suitable method. As they seldom exceed two or three pounds in weight, it scarcely repays to fillet them. For broiling they may be treated like mackerel, but, better still, when they have been duly cleansed and scaled, wrap them in buttered paper, and either bake them in the oven or broil them on the gridiron. Baking is the best method of cooking salmon trout, but, when small, they are very good if dipped bodily into batter, then plunged into boiling fat, and served with maître d'hôtel sauce.
Salmon Trout, Baked and Stuffed. A good-sized trout is very nice if baked as follows: After emptying and scaling the fish, fill the cavity with a stuffing of breadcrumbs, parsley, herbs, and an egg to mix it; sew the sides together if necessary. Lay in a baking dish, dredge with flour, place butter on the top, put a tablespoonful of vinegar and one of stock into the dish, and bake in the oven from twenty minutes to half an hour. Lift the fish out on to a dish, thicken the liquor with flour, add seasoning, a spoonful of chopped parsley, a teaspoonful of anchovy essence, and pour this sauce round the fish. New potatoes, green peas, or baked tomatoes should accompany this dish.
Sardines. Tinned sardines are generally eaten without any further preparation, although very nice sandwiches may be made from them, also they are an indispensable adjunct to a fish salad. Fresh sardines should be first cleansed, then dried in a soft cloth, laid on the gridiron and broiled for about two minutes. Sprinkle salt and pepper and a dash of vinegar over them, and serve very hot on toasted bread.
Shad. Shad does not enjoy a very high reputation in England; in France it is quite a favourite fish and is thought worthy of being cooked in wine, and served with Béchamel sauce. Its best season is the early spring-time, March to May. The French way of cooking it is to split it open, after emptying, scaling, and washing it, then to lay it in oil, with pepper and salt. After it has soaked in this marinade for a sufficient time, it is laid on the gridiron, and broiled very slowly on both sides, for upwards of an hour. Served with maître d'hôtel butter or caper sauce. Shad may be fried after first trimming into convenient-sized pieces and dipping each piece in frying batter. It may also be stuffed and baked according to instructions given for salmon trout.
Shrimps. There are several varieties of shrimps. The two kinds most commonly met with are the brown and the red shrimps. The brown kind is caught nearest to the shore in the shallower pools, and has the strongest flavour. The red shrimp is generally much smaller in size and more refined in flavour. When freshly boiled, shrimps are excellent as a breakfast relish, but when stale they are far from wholesome. Allow a good handful of coarse salt to the quart of water when boiling; as soon as they have attained a nice colour they are done.
Shrimps, Potted. In potting shrimps, after they have been well boiled, take care to pick off both heads and tails and to twist them dexterously out of the shells. As a good quantity of shrimps are required to make a small amount, it is as well to benefit by an opportunity of shrimp sauce being required, and so set aside the heads and tails to be used for the latter purpose. After having thoroughly pounded the bodies of the shrimps in a mortar, put in a small salt-spoonful of salt and the same of pepper, and one or two ounces of fresh butter. Pound all well together, press into small pots, and pour clarified butter on the surface to exclude the air. Shrimp butter is made in the same way, only adding an equal quantity of butter to the paste. Neither of these will keep good many days.
Shrimp Forcemeat, for stuffing sea or fresh-water fish. Shred some shrimps and add to them an equal quantity of fresh breadcrumbs. To a tablespoonful of fresh butter add a salt-spoonful of seasoning, and a beaten egg. Make the shrimps and crumbs into a stiff paste with this. Particularly good as a forcemeat for pike and carp.
Shrimp Patties. (The same mixture is used for shrimp "vol-au-vent"). Pick off the heads and tails from freshly-boiled shrimps, and shell them. Put the shells into a saucepan, cover them with water, and boil gently for a quarter of an hour. Strain the liquor, then thicken it with a teaspoonful of arrowroot, add the yolk of an egg, salt and pepper to taste, a small nob of butter, stir all together over the fire; when it is of the consistency of cream, put in the bodies of the shrimps to heat through and draw the saucepan to one side until required. Make some good puff paste, line the patty pans, and put a morsel of soft bread in the middle before putting on the cover. Bake the patties to a nice brown, then remove the bread, replacing it with a spoonful of the mixture, put on the cover, brush over the surface and edges with beaten yolk of egg and water, return the patties to the oven to heat them through again, then send to table on a pretty d'oyley. They are very good also for eating cold. If liked, the top crust may be omitted, and a few breadcrumbs be sprinkled over the top of the mixture. Garnish the dish with curly parsley and a few large shrimps.
Shrimp Canapées. A nice entrée. Cut some small rounds from a stale loaf of bread, fry them in oil or lard to a delicate brown, then cover each with a layer of either potted shrimps or shrimp butter. Hard boil two eggs. Remove the yolks, and pound them with a small bit of butter and a pinch of pepper and salt. Cut the whites into thin strips. Lay the strips in a lattice work over the rounds and place a pat of the yellow mixture in the middle of them, and a whole shrimp on that, or the very tiniest sprig of parsley. Make a bed of fresh dry parsley on a dish to lay the rounds upon.
Skate. Skate is an unwholesome fish if eaten out of season. Its best time is during the winter months, and it is positively improved by being kept for a day or two hung up. However it is dressed it should always be skinned first. The liver is a choice morsel.
A method of dressing skate which is much liked by French people, is to do it à la Sainte Ménehould. For this it should be skinned and cut into neat pieces, then simmered in white sauce till tender; the pieces of fish should then be lifted out on to a shallow dish, the sauce to receive the addition of a yolk of egg and pinch of cayenne pepper, then to be poured over the fish, Parmesan or Cheshire cheese grated over the top. Set the dish in the oven to get thoroughly hot again.
For boiling, large skate are preferable to small ones, and when possible they should be crimped. (N.B. Crimping can only be done when the fish is perfectly fresh.) It should be plunged into boiling salt water, then gently simmered till tender. Let it drain well.
Boiled skate is very good served with "Black Butter" sauce. For this last, a quarter pound of butter should be allowed to frizzle in a saucepan until of a light brown colour, then a few washed and dried parsley leaves should be thrown in, a tablespoonful of tarragon vinegar, ditto of mushroom ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and chopped capers, pepper and salt to taste. Let these boil once, then either pour over the fish or send to table in a tureen.
Skate may also be fried, curried, or stewed, according to directions given for other fish.
Smelts. Smelts should be handled as little as possible; not washed, but wiped with a cloth. The inside should be pulled out with the gills, as they must not be opened.
It is most usual to fry smelts. Boiling is not to be recommended, unless for an invalid, in which case they should be put into boiling water which contains a few parsley leaves and a lump or two of sugar as well as salt; four minutes cooking is ample time. A little of the liquor in which they were boiled should receive the addition of cream and chopped parsley, and be served with them.
For frying, smelts should be first dipped into beaten egg, then into mixed flour and breadcrumbs, afterwards fried in a good depth of boiling fat. Lift them out with a slice, drain well, and garnish with cut lemon.
Smelts are delicious as a breakfast relish if laid on a gridiron and broiled lightly on both sides, then placed on a hot dish, sprinkled with pepper and salt, lemon juice squeezed over, and a pat of butter placed on each.
They may also be baked au gratin, and served in the same dish.
Soles. The popular method of cooking this favourite fish is to fry them. Some persons declare it to be the best method. If it be so or not, certain it is that the following ways, when fairly tried, will be found to compete very closely in favour. Very large soles may be boiled whole, and will be found most agreeable eating, not unlike turbot in flavour. When practicable, soles should be cleansed a couple of hours before they are wanted for cooking, wrapped in a towel and laid in a cool place to stiffen. The fishmonger will generally skin them; if not, it is easy to draw the skin off the back beginning at the head, gut them, and take out the roe, if any.
Soles, Fried. Medium sized fish are the best for frying whole, or if large they should be filleted. After cleansing them be careful to wipe very dry, then dip them first into flour, next into beaten egg, and cover with bread raspings. Fry quickly in plenty of boiling fat. From five to ten minutes is the time a moderate sized sole will require - but when of a rich colour it is generally cooked sufficiently. Lay on a wire sieve or blotting-paper to drain before putting on to a dish. Garnish with cut lemons and parsley, either fresh or fried.
Sole, Boiled. Let the sole be large, thick, and firm; it should not weigh less than two pounds. Wrap it in a clean white cloth (a napkin which is too old for table use is best), plunge it into boiling salted water with a tablespoonful of vinegar, let it boil very gently for about seven or eight minutes, according to size, then drain well, lay carefully on a clean napkin. Garnish with sliced tomatoes and lemons, and tufts of parsley. Send to table either melted butter, shrimp, or anchovy sauce.
Soles, Baked au Gratin. Melt an ounce of butter in a gratin-dish, or tin baking dish. Chop finely two or three shallots, a small bunch of parsley, and few herbs, grate a slice of stale bread. Sprinkle half the quantity of these at the bottom of the dish, lay the sole upon that and cover with the remainder. Pour either a glass of white wine or the juice of a lemon over all, lay a few bits of butter at the top, and bake in a quick oven for twenty minutes. Serve in the same dish, sprinkled with salt and pepper. Or soles are very nice if laid in a buttered dish, having rubbed them with flour, more butter placed on the top, and baked till lightly browned. They may be lifted on to another dish, but the butter should be served with them.
Sole à la Normande. This is an epicure's dish. After skinning and cleaning a large sole, dry it thoroughly and rub with flour. Take a gratin-dish, or a porcelain one which will stand fire. Slice two shallots very thinly, brown them in butter, and lay at the bottom of the dish with more butter. Lay the sole in the dish, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and cover with a glass of white wine. Bake in a gentle oven until tender through. Meanwhile make some rich white sauce with cream; if possible, take a few oysters, beard them, and put them into the sauce with their liquor; let the sauce merely simmer after this. Open a small tin of button mushrooms, mince them finely, and strew them over the sole, let them get hot through, then pour the oyster sauce over all. Garnish with a few shrimps, and place tiny croutons of fried bread round the edge. Cider may be used instead of wine.
Soles, Filleted. Fillet a large sole by slitting it down the middle of the back, and with a sharp knife raising the flesh from the bone on each side. Divide the meat into convenient sized pieces, say two inches broad and three long, make a marinade of salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil, lay the fillets in this, turning them often, and let them lie an hour or so. Prepare a frying batter - a heaped spoonful of flour mixed smooth with a little oil and cold water, a pinch of salt, and the whites of two eggs - it should be fairly thick. Well coat each fillet with this, then drop into boiling fat, and fry till a nice brown. Garnish prettily, and serve with tomato sauce.
The fillets of sole may be dipped into egg and bread raspings, fried, then laid in the following sauce to heat through, before serving altogether: half a pint of clear stock thickened with a tablespoonful of flour, mixed smooth with butter, a tablespoonful of mushroom ketchup, a teaspoonful of curry powder, the same of tarragon vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Let the sauce be well cooked before putting in the fillets.
The fillets, or small soles whole, may be gently simmered in butter till tender, then laid on a hot dish, and white sauce seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, be poured over them. If the soles be boiled for two minutes only before putting them in the butter, and the sauce be made with cream, this will be found a most delicious way of dressing them for invalids.
Sprats. Sprats resemble herrings very closely. They are abundant on the North British coasts, particularly in the Firth of Forth. In Edinburgh and Glasgow they are known as "garvies". They may be cooked in any of the ways prescribed for herrings, but are best broiled over the fire, and lemon juice improves the flavour of them.
Sturgeon. The sturgeon is somewhat of a rarity in English markets, although common enough in Russia. It is regarded as a royal fish, and is proportionately costly. Its flesh is delicious, and the caviare which the Russians prepare from the roe is justly esteemed a great delicacy.
The Russian method of dressing it is to par-boil it in water with onions, herbs, and bay salt, then to drain it, dredge it with flour, and pour melted butter liberally over it, then to lay it before a bright fire to roast, serving with a rich sauce, either poured over it, or in a tureen.
Sturgeon is very good if simply roasted before the fire, taking care to baste frequently with butter. Of course all the skin and spikes are previously stripped off, and the fish well cleansed.
Sturgeon, Stewed. This is one of the best ways of cooking a portion of this fish. Take two or three slices about an inch thick, let them steep in vinegar awhile. Dry them, dip in flour, and place in some frothing butter in a covered stew-pan. Let them brown on both sides, then remove the fish, and in its place put a few shallots, half a small carrot cut into dice, and some button mushrooms. When these have browned, cover them with half a pint of clear veal broth, a good tumblerful of claret, a teaspoonful of salt and pepper mixed, then replace the slices of sturgeon. Let all stew together for upwards of an hour, when remove the fish on to a dish, strain the sauce from the vegetables, thicken it with a little flour rolled in butter, and add a spoonful of some sharp sauce. Pour over the fish on the dish.
Tench. River tench are the best for the table. They somewhat resemble carp, but are smaller in size and of a richer flavour. They should lie in salt water for a few hours, then be turned into clear spring water, to rid them of the slight muddy flavour which they are apt to have. The cold winter months are their best season.
Empty and scale the tench very carefully, always removing the gills, as they are most apt to retain the muddy flavour. After the fish is cleansed it is a good plan to rub it well over with lemon juice. It may then be baked au gratin, or boiled in salt water, or broiled over the fire. If the last-named method be chosen, let the fish be steeped in oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and wrapped in oiled paper before laying on the gridiron. Great care is needed not to let the paper catch fire. Remove the paper before bringing to table, lay the fish on a hot dish and serve a sauce piquante over it.
The time it takes to cook will depend entirely on the size of the fish. Broiling will require about ten minutes to the pound; boiling and baking rather less time.
Tench is also good if fried. After scaling and cleaning it should be dipped into vinegar and water, dried, and split open; dredge it with flour, and plunge into boiling fat. Serve garnished with parsley and lemons.
Trout, Baked. One of the nicest ways of dressing trout is to simply bake them with butter. Wash, empty, and dry the trout, sprinkle them with seasoned flour, lay in a baking tin in which a little butter has been melted, place several pats of butter over them, and bake about twenty minutes. Lift them out on to a dish, garnish with parsley, thicken the butter slightly, stir in a spoonful of chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice, and pour the sauce round the fish.
Trout, Boiled. Fresh trout is excellent if boiled in "court-bouillon" for ten to fifteen minutes, then drained and served with Dutch sauce or melted butter. This method is similar to that recommended by the great Izaak Walton.
Turbot. The turbot is the king of flat fish, and is justly held in high estimation. It is rather an expensive fish, and is mostly sold by size. At its best from February to August. It will keep good for a day, or even two, if slightly salted. Salt should be rubbed all over to help to remove the slime. The fins should not be cut off, but an incision should be made all the way down the middle of the backbone on the dark side to prevent the white side cracking. Lemon juice rubbed over it helps to preserve the colour. Any unsightly spots on the white side may be removed by rubbing with salt and lemon juice.
Turbot, Boiled. After preparing the turbot according to the directions given above, lay it in the turbot kettle and cover with cold water to the depth of an inch. Allow a good handful of salt to a gallon of water. Bring it up to boiling point as quickly as possible, and remove the scum as it rises. When it boils draw it aside to simmer gently, watch it carefully, and as soon as it shows signs of the flesh shrinking from the bone, lift it out on the drainer, let it drain a minute, then slide it carefully on to a clean napkin. Garnish with parsley, cut lemons, and if a few crayfish are obtainable they add greatly to the beauty of the dish. A sprinkling of lobster coral on the white surface is very pretty.
Whatever sauce accompanies boiled turbot, it should be brought to table in a tureen.
A pretty way of garnishing boiled turbot in summer time is to surround it with a border of nasturtium flowers.
Turbot, with Anchovy Cream. Boil a medium sized turbot according to the last recipe - by the way, a turbot ought to be thick and of a creamy white colour; if thin and bluish looking it is not a good one. Lay the fish on a hot dish without a napkin, cover to keep it hot. Then into half a pint of plain melted butter, stir in a good teaspoonful of essence of anchovies, and a quarter of a pint of rich cream; let it nearly boil, then pour over the turbot. Chop small a few pickled gherkins and capers, strew them over the surface. Before bringing to table, make a border round this of new kidney potatoes, well boiled but not broken; garnish the outer edge with parsley.
Turbot à la Béchamel. This is one of the best ways of dressing cold turbot. Make a pint of Béchamel sauce by boiling together equal quantities of good white stock and cream in an enamelled saucepan, also a strip of fresh lemon rind and two or three shallots. Add a mixed teaspoonful of salt and pepper, thicken with a spoonful of arrowroot, and let it boil well. Remove the lemon rind and shallots, and put in the pieces of turbot to heat through, all skin and bone removed. When quite hot, pour all together on to a hot dish; if liked, a few oysters may be added to the sauce just before turning it out. Some potato croquettes are a nice addition to this dish.
Turbot Salad. The remains of cold turbot will make an excellent salad. Free it from all skin and bone, and divide into pieces about an inch square. Sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper and a little vinegar. Take two large fresh lettuces, let them be quite clean and dry. Make a dressing for the salad of the beaten yolks of two eggs, a teaspoonful of made mustard, salt and pepper, four spoonfuls of oil, and one of tarragon vinegar. Arrange the salad in a bowl or dish by making a layer of shred lettuce leaves, then one of fish, and a few spoonfuls of the dressing, and continue thus until the material is used up. Garnish the top with sliced beetroot, hard-boiled eggs, &c., and let the salad stand in a cold place for half an hour.
Turbot may be cooked au gratin if of a small size, allowing white wine or cider to it. French cooks generally prefer to parboil it in "court-bouillon", then to take it out and finish cooking it in white sauce.
Whitebait. Whitebait are genuine Cockney fish, being found alone in the Thames in perfection. They make their appearance early in the year, but the season par excellence is the month of May. They cannot be had too fresh; if not used instantly they are brought in, they should lie in ice-water until required.
It is generally thought that only a "professional" can cook whitebait, but if due care be given there is no reason why they should be beyond the skill of the amateur. The principal thing to observe is the drying of the fish. After well draining them they should be thrown on to a floured cloth - a cloth containing flour an inch in depth. When thus dosed, the fish should be put into a sifter and lightly shaken to remove all superfluous flour. They should next be put into a wire basket, a few at a time, and plunged into a pan containing a good depth of boiling fat. A minute generally suffices to cook them, then they should be laid on a hot dish, garnished with fried parsley, and sent to table instantly. It is absolutely needful to fry the whitebait the moment after it is floured; if allowed to remain on one side for only a few minutes, it becomes flabby and spoilt. Thin brown bread and butter and slices of lemon are an indispensable accompaniment to whitebait. For "Devilled Whitebait" lift out the basket of fish when only half cooked, pepper them with black or cayenne pepper and return to the fat to finish cooking.
Whiting. Whiting are excellent fish when fresh, the flesh being light, tender, and easy of digestion. The firmness of the flesh, and its silvery hue, are the signs by which to judge of its freshness. It is more or less in season all the year, but at its best in the winter months. Occasionally they attain to a considerable size, but are mostly from one to two pounds in weight. Those about nine inches in length are the best in point of flavour. Whiting are best broiled or fried.
Whiting, Broiled. Wash in salted water, split them open, and dry thoroughly. Dip them in oil, sprinkle with seasoning, dredge with flour, and then lay on a greased gridiron, and broil lightly on both sides. Place them on a hot dish, put a pat of butter on each, and serve smoking hot.
Whiting, Fried. Empty, and wash the fish, skin it, and then draw the tail through the mouth. Dip each one first into flour, then in beaten egg and breadcrumbs, drop into boiling fat, and fry to a golden brown. Garnish the dish with fried parsley, and send sauce to table in a tureen.
A large whiting may be split open, floured, and then fried in a smaller quantity of fat. When done, lay it on a dish and pour the following sauce over it: A tablespoonful of minced herbs, the same of parsley, a pinch of seasoning, an ounce of fresh butter, and small glass of white wine all boiled together.
A few plain directions as to the making of sauces suitable for serving with fish, will, we think, not be unwelcome. First as to that sauce commonly known as:
Melted Butter. In France this sauce is what its name declares it to be, viz., a tureen half full of pure butter dissolved, in strong contrast to that generally found on English tables, where a mixture of milk and water thickened with flour, is usually dignified with this title. True "butter sauce" belongs to neither of these extremes. As one ladleful will generally suffice for each individual partaking of fish, it is as well to measure into the saucepan the number of ladlefuls that will be required, so that there shall be no waste of good material.
Having ascertained how much liquid will be in the saucepan when the sauce is finished, pour away the water and proceed to divide the materials you will use. A small lump of butter should be allowed for each ladleful of sauce. Take one lump and let it dissolve, then stir in a heaped tablespoonful of dry flour, mix these quite smoothly together, with the addition of cold water, until like a cream; add boiling water to make half the quantity of sauce, then stir in by degrees the remaining lumps of butter. If the sauce shows signs of looking oily, a little cold water will correct it. A pinch of salt should be added, or salt butter may be used.
Maître d'Hôtel Butter. For this prepare a little melted butter, by mixing an ounce of butter with the same weight of flour, and cold water to make it smooth. Dilute with a quarter of a pint of white stock. Let this mixture boil, then stir in a tablespoonful of chopped parsley, one of sweet herbs, half one of minced chives, a teaspoonful of mixed salt and pepper, the juice of a lemon, or a spoonful of tarragon vinegar, and a spoonful of pure oil; when these have been well mixed together, draw aside the saucepan and stir in the beaten yolk of an egg, then pour into a hot tureen.
Herb Sauce: for Broiled Fish. Chop some dry parsley until quite fine, also an equal quantity of mixed herbs - thyme, marjoram, sage, chervil, celery, fennel, &c. Put first a small lump of butter to dissolve in the saucepan, and chop finely a shallot and let it frizzle in this, then stir in the parsley and herbs, and add sufficient vinegar to cover them. Draw the saucepan aside and let it simmer ten minutes to abstract the flavour. Just before it is wanted, add pepper and a pinch of salt, also a good tablespoonful of oil. A yolk of egg, added lastly, will slightly thicken and improve it, but it is very good without, especially for broiled herrings and mackerel.
Anchovy Sauce. Anchovy sauce is quickly and easily made according to the recipe given in the previous chapter (see letter A), but if a richer sauce is desired, the anchovies should be boiled gently until they dissolve. Then the liquor be strained, added to a little plain melted butter with a glass of port wine.
Shrimp Sauce. For this the foundation is again "melted butter", and to half a pint of that allow half a pint of shrimps. Pick off heads, tails, and shells, and let the bodies stew gently in the sauce, but not boil, or they will harden. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper, a little lemon juice, a drop of anchovy essence, and salt to taste.
Lobster Sauce can be made in the same way, using a little of the white meat of the lobster torn into flakes, in place of the shrimps, and stirring in a spoonful of lobster butter. It must not boil or the colour will be spoilt. To give this sauce a stronger flavour of lobster, the shell may be boiled in water, and the liquor used instead of water.
Fennel Sauce. Pick some fennel from the stalk and boil it for a minute, then chop it fine and add to some "melted butter". Stir in the yolk of an egg the last thing. A teaspoonful of spiced vinegar will give piquancy to it.
Parsley Sauce. Parsley sauce is merely "melted butter" with chopped parsley stirred in. It is an improvement to let the sauce boil a moment or two after to take off the raw flavour.
Horseradish Sauce. To two table-spoonfuls of finely-scraped horseradish and one of stale white breadcrumbs allow half a pint of cream - or new milk and cream - and a pinch of salt. Let this stew for fifteen minutes, then stir in a spoonful of vinegar just before serving.
Gooseberry Sauce, for Mackerel. Stew half a pint of gooseberries in a little water until very soft, press them through a sieve into the same quantity of "melted butter", add an ounce of white sugar, and a spoonful of spinach-juice to give a nice green colour.
Egg Sauce. First Way: Make some good "melted butter", stir into it two or three hard-boiled eggs which have been cut up small, and season it well. Just before serving stir in the beaten yolk of a fresh egg.
Second Way (for cold fish): Beat the yolks of two fresh eggs, stir in a teaspoonful of made mustard, half a teaspoonful of mixed salt and pepper, and by degrees two tablespoonfuls of salad oil and one of tarragon vinegar. It should be of the consistency of cream. This sauce is almost identical with "Mayonnaise" sauce, and to make a green mayonnaise add finely-minced chives, parsley, chervil, and cress.
Tomato Sauce. Melt an ounce of butter, and slice one or two tomatoes thinly into it, add one or two shallots. Let these stew till quite soft, then press through a wire sieve. Add a little more butter to this puree, plenty of salt and pepper, and a spoonful of vinegar. Make thoroughly hot before serving.
Regard should always be had to contrast of colour in garnishing all dishes. Where the dish is masked in white sauce, the introduction of something red amongst the green garnishing is a relief to the eye. Flowers may be used to supply this needful touch of colour, slices of beetroot, or a few strips of boiled carrot, or a few bright prawns, one or two chilies, &c.
If a portion of salmon, showing the bright colour of the meat, is the dish which has to be trimmed, a few mounds of scraped horseradish alternating with tufts of curly parsley looks well.
For fried fish - soles, fillets, lobster cutlets, &c., it is better to fry the parsley which is used for their garnishing. Double-curled parsley, well dried, thrown into a wire basket and plunged into the boiling fat, for one minute only, is the way to obtain this.
Crisp, fried croutons of bread, tiny potato balls, rice balls, sliced lemons, small bright tomatoes, and slices of hard-boiled egg, are all excellent for garnishing purposes.
Fish that has been baked in the oven - excepting always that which has been done au gratin, and which requires no garnish - will often be made to look very pretty if a few fancy shapes be stamped out of cooked vegetables, say the red of a carrot, the white of a turnip, tiny sprigs of cauliflower, &c., always using green parsley to finish off the outer edge. Where there is the will to do it, means will not be lacking whereby the simplest dish may be made to look elegant.
"Simple Fish and Vegetable Sauces including Light Dishes Cooked in Chafing Dish" (1903) Charles Herman Senn, Brown & Polson
It is freely admitted by connoisseurs that the virtue of a dish depends largely upon its sauce.
In fish cookery, sauces are of more than ordinary importance, because even the richest kind of fish would be almost insipid if it lacked the sauce which should accompany the dish, and form, as it were, the "liquid seasoning".
A noted French gourmet tells us it requires a genius to make a sauce. He should have said rather, that it takes a genius to INVENT a sauce, for once made and written out with care, a novice can make it with success.
The French chef is not content with a white and brown sauce alone; he acquires the knowledge of blending each individual flavour in a different sauce, and thus serves even the most common of fish in a most pleasing variety of ways.
A great deal of the success of a good sauce depends, in addition to the flavour, on the thickening ingredients that are used. "Roux" is the most popular of all thickenings or bindings used for sauce making. This is a mixture of flour and fat, blended and fried to the desired colours, i.e. fawn or brown, or left white. The process of mixing these may be termed the foundation of almost any sauce; upon it depends much of the success of the sauce, for the "smoothness" so desirable in sauces is got from the careful preparation of this mixture.
After spending considerable time and trouble on the subject of smoothness of sauces, I have succeeded in producing by the aid of BROWN & POLSON'S "PATENT" CORN FLOUR, sauces which are superior in appearance, consistency and flavour to those made with ordinary flour.
The following directions are given for the preparation of a number of well-known sauces which are indispensable in the service of fish. These sauces, when poured over the fish, will not only improve its appearance but will give it an improved flavour and taste, largely due to the delicate smoothness of the sauce so employed. C. HERMAN SENN
- White Fish Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Lobster Sauce, Anchovy Sauce, Caper Sauce, Cardinal Sauce, Egg Sauce, Parsley Sauce, Shrimp Sauce, Indian Sauce
- Dutch or Hollandaise Sauce, Brown Fish Sauce, Polish Sauce, Mustard Sauce
- Hints on Cooking Vegetables, Boiled Artichokes, Artichokes and Brussel Sprouts, Creamed Asparagus
- Cauliflower au Gratin, Beetroot Served Hot, Stuffed Tomatoes, Stewed Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts, Mashed Turnips
- To Make Common Vegetables More Inviting, Vegetables most improved when served with one of the following sauces, White Sauce, Parsley Sauce, Parsley Sauce, Celery Sauce
- Onion Sauce, Egg Sauce, Savoury Lemon Sauce, Dutch Sauce, Mushroom Sauce, Tomato Sauce
- Brown Sauce, Espagnole Sauce, Gratin Sauce, Butter Sauce, Béchamel Sauce
- Chafing Dish Recipes, Eggs à la Cublet, Creamed Salt Cod Fish
- Curried Eggs, Fricasée of Eggs, Oysters Fried in Batter, Creamed Lobster, Lobster Patties, Creamed Sweetbreads
- Curry Sauce for Meats, Spaghetti, Creamed Toast, Beef Pats, Creamed Chicken, Brains
- Equivalent Weights and Measures, Brown & Polson's Cookery Utensils
A WORD ON FISH SAUCES *** THEIR GREAT IMPORTANCE In the cooking of fish, the sauce it is served with plays an important part, and deserves careful attention. A good sauce will make the commonest fish taste delicious, whilst a poor sauce will spoil the best of fish. The best way to obtain a good sauce is to have it made freshly at home. It is very simple. You can do it both easily and quickly by following the recipes given in Brown & Polson's latest booklet, "Simple Fish and Vegetable Sauces", by Mr. Ch. Herman Senn, the well-known authority on cooking. Mr Senn says: - "Brown & Plson's 'Patent' corn flour is the best for all quickly made sauces." Send to Brown & Polson, Paisley, enclosing a 1d. stamp for a copy of the booklet which contains some practical hints regarding the cooking of vegetables, in addition to the recipes. It is essentially a book for the housewife. Deal, Walmer & Sandwich Mercury: Saturday, 1st August 1903
"Practical Sea Fishing" (1905) P. L. Haslope at pages 256 to 258
There is nothing better for boiling fish than sea-water pure and simple, provided it is obtained some little way from the coast, and not in a harbour where it would be likely to become contaminated. When ordinary sea-water is not procurable, the proper proportion of salt is 5 oz to the gallon of water. As a rule, cooks do not add sufficient salt in boiling fish, the consequence being that the flesh lacks firmness and flavour. Fish are also much improved by being cleaned and washed in the sea.
This is a dish not generally known, and is an excellent method of cooking a Bass, which is usually considered rather an indifferent fish. At the bottom of an ordinary pie-dish place some bread-crumbs, chopped onions, and herbs, upon which lay pieces of the fish cut up into small fillets. On the top of the fish place another layer of bread-crumbs, and continue this proceeding until the dish has been filled, adding plenty of seasoning according to taste. Cover the dish with flour-paste, and put it in the oven. When about half-baked, cut a flap in the centre of the crust and pour in a cupful of clotted or "Cornish" cream, replacing it in the oven till properly cooked. Any other fish of a soft nature could be utilised instead of Bass, but the latter is specially appetising when thus prepared. "Sea-pie" is composed of layers of paste and meat alternately, which is afterwards boiled, and is a common dish on board ship.
It is quite possible that the amateur may have a super-abundant catch of fish, the whole of which he is unable to utilise, and in such an instance, those which cannot be immediately used should be salted. In the winter it is often impossible in small villages to procure fish, and the poor inhabitants always "salt in" large specimens during the summer to provide for this inclement season.
First split the fish open as far as the tail, thoroughly washing it in salt water, and removing the head and back-bone. Cover the bottom of a tub with salt, and place the fish therein. Arrange the fish one upon the other, with a layer of salt between each. Allow the fish to remain in this condition for four days, which is the proper time for large Pollack; but five days for Cod or Ling. When taken out of the brine, wash the fish, press it, and then hang up to dry.
After having been salted, fish are often smoked, and many kinds which only realise low prices might meet with more appreciation when thus treated. An easy method is to procure a large cask and knock out the top and bottom. A fire should then be lighted inside, and oak saw-dust placed upon it so as to allow it to smoulder. The fish should be placed upon a stick or bar, and suspended over the mouth of the cask until sufficiently smoked. Larger quantities could be more readily prepared by hanging them over one of the old open fire-places, and lighting a wood fire underneath.
The following recipe for preparing sprats like anchovies may possibly prove useful to some of my readers. Take a peck of the best sprats, perfectly fresh and just as they have come out of the sea; have ready 2 lb. of common salt, 4 oz. of saltpetre, ¼ lb. of bay-salt, 2 oz. of salt prunella, and two-pennyworth of cochineal. Pound them all together in a mortar, and mix the ingredients thoroughly together. Now procure a stone pot or barrel, and into it place a layer of sprats, then a layer of the salts, and so on until the receptacle is full. Press them down hard, and cover closely. Let them remain thus for six months, when they will be ready for use.
"Fish and How to Cook it" (1907) Mrs C. S. Peel
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CONTENTS CHAPTER I How to choose, prepare and fillet fish; to kill lobsters and crabs mercifully; list of fish and when in season; how to serve fish 7 CHAPTER II Fish stocks and soups; quenelles, croûtons and custard for garnishing; quantity of soup required for each person 13 CHAPTER III Fish sauces and the fish which they accompany 21 CHAPTER IV How to boil, bake, steam, poach, fry, grill, stew, and roast, and to cook fish "en pappillotte"; marinade and stuffing for baked fish; batter for fried fish and to fry whitebait and parsley for garnishing; time table for cooking fish; oven temperature 35 CHAPTER V How to make hot and cold soufflés, mousses, quenelles and moulds of fish, and to make rissoles 48 CHAPTER VI Recipes - hot fish dishes 58 CHAPTER VII Recipes - cold fish dishes 73 CHAPTER VIII Réchauffés, hot and cold 80 CHAPTER IX Breakfast dishes and savouries 88 INDEX 98
"A Guide to Modern Cookery" (1907) Georges Auguste Escoffier at pages 260 to 351 (Chapter XIV)
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Chapter XIV Fish at page 350
1039 - Bouillabaisse à la Marseillaise
Cut the larger fish into slices; leave the smaller ones whole, and with the exception of the whiting and the red mullet, which cook more speedily than the others, put them all into a saucepan.
For two lbs. of fish, add one small onion, the chopped white of one leek, one small, peeled, pressed and chopped tomato, two crushed cloves of garlic, a large pinch of concassed  parsley, a pinch of powdered saffron, a bit of bay, a little savory and fennel, and two tablespoonfuls of oil.
Moisten the fish with just enough cold water to cover it, and season with one-third oz. of salt and a pinch of pepper per quart of water.
Set to boil, and cook over a brisk fire. At the end of eight minutes add the pieces of whiting and red mullet, and leave to cook for a further seven minutes.
Pour the liquor of the bouillabaisse over some slices of household bread lying on the bottom of a deep dish; set the fish on another dish with the sections of spiny lobster all round, and serve.
 Rascasse - red scorpionfish (Scorpaena scrofa) is the largest eastern Atlantic scorpion fish.
 Chapon - black scorpionfish (Scorpaena porcus) - see Elizabeth David's "Italian Food" (Fish Soups): "pesce cappone (scorpaena porcus, the rascasse of the Provençal bouillabaisse) … the scorfano rosso (scorpaena scrofa, the chapon of Provence)"
 Fiélas - conger (Conger conger)
 Boudreuil - angler, monkfish (Lophius piscatorius), baudroie commune, lotte
 Spiny lobster - langouste, rock lobsters (Panulirus interruptus)
 Concassed - roughly chopped or diced
"How to Cook Fish" (1908) Olive Green
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I. The catching of unshelled fish 1 II. Fish in season 6 III. Eleven court bouillons 8 IV. One hundred simple fish sauces 13 V. Ten ways to serve anchovies 41 VI. Forty-five ways to cook bass 45 VII. Eight ways to cook blackfish 65 VIII. Twenty-six ways to cook bluefish 69 IX. Five ways to cook butterfish 79 X. Twenty-two ways to cook carp 81 XI. Six ways to cook catfish 89 XII. Sixty-seven ways to cook codfish 91 XIII. Forty-five ways to cook eels 113 XIV. Fifteen ways to cook finnan haddie 131 XV. Thirty-two ways to cook flounder 137 XVI. Twenty-seven ways to cook frog legs 151 XVII. Twenty-two ways to cook haddock 161 XVIII. Eighty ways to cook halibut 169 XIX. Twenty-five ways to cook herring 197 XX. Nine ways to cook kingfish 205 XXI. Sixty-five ways to cook mackerel 209 XXII. Five ways to cook mullet 233 XXIII. Fifteen ways to cook perch 235 XXIV. Ten ways to cook pickerel 241 XXV. Twenty ways to cook pike 245 XXVI. Ten ways to cook pompano 253 XXVII. Thirteen ways to cook red snapper 257 XXVIII One hundred and thirty ways to cook salmon 263 XXIX. Fourteen ways to cook salmon-trout 307 XXX. Twenty ways to cook sardines 313 XXXI. Ninety-five ways to cook shad 321 XXXII. Sixteen ways to cook sheepshead 355 XXIII. Nine ways to cook skate 363 XXXIV. Thirty-five ways to cook smelts 367 XXXV. Fifty-five ways to cook soles 379 XXXVI. Twenty-five ways to cook sturgeon 401 XXXVII. Fifty ways to cook trout 411 XXXVIII. Fifteen ways to cook turbot 429 XXXIX. Five ways to cook weakfish 435 XL. Four ways to cook whitebait 439 XLI. Twenty-five ways to cook whitefish 441 XLII. Eight ways to cook whiting 451 XLIII. One hundred miscellaneous recipes 453 XLIV. Back talk 490 XLV. Additional recipes 491 Index 499
"R.M.S. Titanic Menu" (2nd April 1912), owned by Second Officer Charles Lightoller, the highest ranking surviving officer from the Titanic
The menu of the first meal ever served on board.
"Fish and how to cook it" (1915) Department of the Naval Service, Ottawa at pages 29 to 72
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"The Gentle Art of Cookery" (1925) Mrs Hilda (C. F.) Leyel & Miss Olga Hartley
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"Sea Fishing Simplified" (1929) Francis Dyke Holcombe & A. Fraser-Brunner at pages 3, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 41 & 43
Almost all our common sea fish are good to eat, while some are really excellent; and the difference in flavour between fish cooked and eaten on the same day on which they are caught and those which come from the fishmonger's slab is remarkable. Boiling in seawater improves the flavour of any fish which are cooked in that way … All fish, by the way, should be killed directly they are caught, and "cleaned" as soon as possible afterwards; while if it is a sunny day keep them in the shade by covering them with an oilskin or a piece of old sacking. In hot weather, especially if there is thunder about, some sea fish - pouting and mackerel, for instance - deteriorate pretty quickly.
POUTING … The pouting is quite good to eat the same day as that on which it is caught; but it should never be kept for long or sent away to your friends, as it goes bad quickly.
CONGER … The flesh of the conger is very firm and solid; it makes excellent soup.
WRASSE … They are usually considered useless for the table, but as a matter of fact a good sized one is quite good food; not at all unlike a good pouting in the winter, when those fish are in best condition.
COD … As food, the fish is too well known to need remark; but you will find a freshly caught codling, especially if you have taken it yourself, much superior in flavour to the one you buy at the fishmonger's.
POLLACK … The pollack is an excellent table fish, reminding one very much of whiting (he is, of course, a first cousin of that fish); and I have little doubt that small pollack frequently figure on menu cards as fried whiting. Personally I like him better than whiting, as he seems to me to have a more subtle flavour.
BREAM … As food, the black bream is the better fish of the two; the red one, although quite wholesome, makes rather dry and uninteresting eating.
SKATE … As food, these very small skate are excellent; plain boiled, and served with caper sauce, is as good a way as any of sending them to table.
WHITING … As food, the whiting is too well known to need remark.
PLAICE and DAB … As food, both fish are so well known as to need no recommendation; but there are few better table fish in the sea than a plump, freshly caught dab.
DOGFISH … They are quite good to eat, although probably not many of you will try them.
There is another dogfish - the spur dog - which is common in the West Country, while on the Irish Coast, where it positively swarms, it is a perfect pest. If you are unlucky enough to hook one on gut tackle you will probably lose your gear. But if you do succeed in landing one you should eat him, for he is quite one of the best food fish in our seas; his flesh is firm, flaky and palatable, and in nutritive value he is not far below the herring, which is well known to be almost the most nutritious fish in our seas. In food value the spur dogfish is far ahead of such common food fishes as plaice, sole, cod, whiting etc.
TOPE … I believe the tope is a perfectly wholesome fish for the table, but I have never eaten one, and cannot therefore say what it tastes like.
BASS … As food, the bass is an excellent fish. The smaller ones should be grilled or fried, and the larger fish boiled or steamed. Cold boiled bass, with mayonnaise sauce, is delicious.
MACKEREL … As food, the mackerel is so well known as to need no recommendation. A really large one, boiled and served with parsley sauce, is delicious - and makes an excellent dinner, by the way, for a sea angler who is sometimes late for his evening meal; for it seems to be impossible to over boil the fish.
"The ABC of Fish Cooking" (6 May 1930)
"THERE'S all the health of the sea in fish". A fish diet suits everyone, provides nourishment for the worker, energy for growing children, easily digested food for the invalid, dainty dishes for "fussy" appetites. Sportsmen can train on fish, those who are "slimming" can diet on it. Fish meals give the cook more leisure because fish comes ready prepared and takes only a short time to cook. In the following pages you will find dozens of ways of cooking fish for every occasion - all as simple as A B C.
- Contents and Introduction
- How to choose fish
- How to fry fish
- Boiling and steaming
- Have a change at breakfast
- What shall we have for lunch ?
- Solid dinners for hungry families
- The best supper is a fish supper
- New ideas for the children's dinner
- Novelties for your parties (original sandwiches, moulds, etc.)
- It's never too hot to eat these (hot weather suggestions, salads, cold croquettes, etc.)
- Sauce making made simple
- When the doctor allows "a little fish" (invalid recipes)
- Why not fish soup ?
- Fish for high tea
- How to cook small fish
- Using up fish scraps
- Keep down your weight, but keep up your strength (athletes' meals and dishes for those who are dieting)
Kenneth Denton Shoesmith (1890 - 1939)
The Daily Mirror, Tuesday 6 May 1930 at page 7 The Daily Express, Tuesday 20 October 1931 at page 7
"Daily Express Prize Recipes for Fish Cookery" (9th June 1930) Daily Express
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The Daily Express, Monday 3 October 1933 at page 4
The Cod becomes Peronist
And now a change from the Red way of life:
How would you like to dial "F-I-S-H" on the telephone and have a golden voice recite you the day's fish recipe? That or a device very like it is what ingenious and considerate General Peron has laid on for housewives in Buenos Aires.
Necessity was the mother of his invention. For Argentine beef production under the general's maladministration has declined so catastrophically that there is today not enough beef to feed the beef-loving Argentino and at the same time export beef to Britain and the Argentine's other creditors. So now the slogan is: Eat more fish.
"A Pretty Kettle of Fish" (1935) Elizabeth Lucas
This is a list, not of everything that is needed, but of certain stores which are essential to good fish cookery.
- Clarified butter (p. 32).
- Salt - real salt such as is bought in bars, or gros sel which has a life and quality present in no other salt. It can be bought from foreign dealers or from several of the big stores.
- Pepper - white pepper-corns are best. They should be ground only as required. Cayenne and paprika also will be needed.
- Roux (p. 184).
- Cornflour and potato flour in small quantities (as well as ordinary flour) for thickening sauces.
- Fresh herbs - tarragon, chives, chervil, parsley and bay leaves.
- Dried herbs for stuffings.
- White-wine vinegar.
- The best olive oil.
- Fish stock (p. 39).
- Frying fat or frying oil (pp. 22-3).
- Green colouring for sauces. This can be bought in bottles, but it is much better to make it as it is required (p. 34).
- Anchovies - in oil or salted. Salted anchovies should be soaked in water, or milk, for an hour before they are used. If preserved in oil, they should be thoroughly drained and fresh oil poured over them.
It is essential in cooking fish to use fresh butter of good quality. In these days when the best New Zealand brands can be bought at 1/- a pound, there is no excuse for using butter of inferior quality, or any substitute for it.
Some Necessary Utensils
- A marked measuring glass or cup - one that holds a pint is large enough.
- A fish-kettle with drainer.
- A large deep frying-pan with basket.
- A wide shallow frying-pan, and a smaller one. A grill to be kept for fish only. A double one is best.
- A shallow pan to be used as a bain-marie (p. 183).
- A pestle and mortar.
- A hair and a wire sieve.
- A cutter for vegetables and herbs.
- Fireproof dishes of various sizes and shapes - one or two oblong ones to hold whole fish cooked in the oven.
- A soufflé dish.
- A whisk for eggs and sauces.
- Two very sharp knives.
- Kitchen scissors.
- Wooden spoons.
- A board or a marble slab - or both.
- Pepper mill.
- A skimmer and fish slice.
- Cloths, butter muslin, kitchen paper.
- A little brush for brushing fish over with oil or melted butter. This can be made of feathers. In Czechoslovakia goose feathers are chosen. They are sterilized, and stripped of all but the soft tips. The shafts are then tied into neat bundles.
Where there is no weighing machine the following measures may be found useful:
- A kitchen cup should hold half a pint of liquid or half a pound of flour.
- 8 tablespoonsful of liquid make a gill.
- A heaped tablespoonful of flour weighs an ounce.
- A heaped tablespoonful of butter weighs about two ounces. So should "butter the size of an egg."
To buy the best in kitchen utensils is certainly an economy in the end - but it is not a universally popular economy. Yet for the fish-kettle, deep frying-pan and small saucepans for sauces, at any rate, the best should be bought.
Where aluminium is bought it should be of very heavy make. It is not cheap but it is worth every penny that is spent on it. The Solar cast-aluminium utensils are guaranteed to last a lifetime. For electric stoves this ware, specially made for the purpose, with flat bottoms, is good. So is Casten-ware.
There is a great choice among fireproof earthenware dishes which - with the exception of lined copper - are the best for use in baking fish. French makes are still the best on the market - owing to the excellence of the clay with which they are made - a clay which does not exist outside Provence. The English are perhaps more decorative, but less reliable. Every size and shape is to be found, including scallop shell dishes.
Pyrex glassware is preferred by many people to earthenware, and that also can be bought in a great variety of shape.
Sheffield now makes kitchen knives which are as good as the French - of the same shape and sharpness.
An unlined iron frying-pan (shallow) is still, I consider, the best for general use. But there are also iron frying-pans lined with grey vitreous enamel which are excellent. An Alexander Shredder will save many hours' tedious work in a year. It will grate, mash, shred and slice. Its three discs are made of stainless steel and are easy to keep clean.
Small cheap gadgets are scarcely worth buying though there are many on the market.
resume here page 15
"The New Herring Book: Scores of Simple Recipes" (1938) Mable Webb, Herring Industry Board
"Thanks to the Herring" by Mrs. Arthur Webb the well-known B. B. C. Cookery Expert.
I always look upon herrings as being such accommodating fish. They're inexpensive, and you'll agree when you think what value lies beneath their silvery skins, and what delicious flavour is there to be brought out in the cooking.
Herrings are nourishing and the form of nourishment they yield is just what is required for all sections of the community, for very young children, for schoolboys and girls, for men and women with sedentary occupations, as well as for those who are making strenuous use of their muscular strength many hours a day.
Delicate persons, invalids and convalescents find carefully prepared and skilfully cooked herrings a welcome change.
Buy herrings as often as you can, knowing they are fine substantial food, providing warmth in the winter and easily digested and appetising meals for the summer.
In fact, I go farther and say that in one or other of the various methods of presenting herrings they make attractive dishes for the hottest day of summer or the coldest day of winter. They are delicious cooked in so many ways, grilled, fried, baked, steamed, braised, pickled or boiled. They may be served with or without salad, or as a filling for the school sandwich, or as savoury snacks for the picnic hamper. They can be prepared overnight, or within half an hour of serving.
For the pages which follow I have selected a number of the favourite methods of cooking the fresh fish whole and filleted and I have included a variety of recipes for bloaters, kippers, salt herrings, and sauces which, while good and adding to the food value, will give little trouble to prepare.
And speaking of sauces, those made with milk as the foundation are of particular importance, because whether plain or flavoured with parsley, egg, cheese, caper or mustard, they blend so well with the fish that each sauce in its turn is sure to secure approval.
Then I hope you'll like the snacks, hot toasts and savouries made with herring roes, and that you'll agree that roes are still another reason for gratitude to the herring.
"Thanks to the Herring" by Mrs. Arthur Webb
the well-known B. B. C. Cookery Expert.
1 King Herring - Nature's Health Food 2 The fish that has made history 4 Hints that may help 5 Two ways to tackle a Herring (when cooked) 7 Simple ways with fresh Herrings 1. Fried 8 2. Baked 10 3. Boiled and steamed 12 4. Grilled 14 The tasty Kipper 16 Bloaters - a national delicacy 18 Cold Herring dishes 20 Hot Herring dishes 22 There's food value in roes 26 Sauces to serve with Herrings 28 Herring snacks 31 Index Page 3 of cover
"Fish Dishes specially arranged for cooking with Regulo Oven Control" (circa 1938) Radiation Publications Department
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"Inshore Sea Fishing" (1939) William S. Forsyth at pages 87 to 106
Dressing and curing, smoking, kippering, drying etc, cod liver oil
THE first operation to be performed, no matter what ultimate form of curing be contemplated, except in the cases of herring and kippers, is the removal of the entrails and heads of the fish.
The knife used should be sharpened to a rough edge with a sand stone, as this type of ragged edge facilitates the cutting of the slippery flesh. The narrow part which connects the belly of the fish with the head near the gills should be cut across first. Insert the point of the knife at this cut and make an incision down the belly to a little beyond the vent. Lay the fish open, gather the entrails together in the hand and at one operation remove the head and entrails, twisting the head and pulling it away from the body. The fish should appear as in Fig. 47.
To FILLET. (1) Cut off the dorsal and ventrical fins and tail (b) and (c).
(2) Grasp the corner (a) and with a quick movement towards the tail remove the skin on one side. Do the same with the other side.
The fresher the fish the more easily is this accomplished.
(3) Insert the point of the knife at arrow, Fig. 48, until the back bone is felt, and run the knife down (dotted line) to the tail, keeping the flat of the blade pressing all the time on the back bone. Repeat for the other side, when the back bone may be easily removed. Care must be taken that the point of the knife does not cut through the belly part or the fish will be divided in two pieces. The fillet should appear as in Fig. 49.
TO DRESS FOR SMOKING OR DRYING
(1) Lay the fish on its left side with the tail pointing towards you. Grasp shoulders of fish with left hand, thumb round the corner (a), and with the right hand insert the point of the knife at the top side of the back bone at the point marked on the sketch by the arrow. Fig. 50.
(2) Follow the back bone to the tail, keeping the flat of the knife blade pressing down on the bone all the way. The fish will then appear as in Fig. 51, with the backbone lying on the bottom or left side of the fish. In the case of a large fish part of the back bone should be removed and a slit made on the remaining part for a distance of a few inches. This slit is to allow the salt to penetrate into the bone and prevent decomposition.
In the splitting of a large fish such as a cod or pollack the dresser will find it much easier to cut the fish from the anus towards the tail, keeping the knife pressing on the back bone. After this cut is completed he should turn the knife and run it towards the head close to the back bone when the two halves will come open easily. A cut should then be made down the back bone at about half an inch from the ridge, reaching to a point about three or four inches from the tail. The bone should be cut across at this point and the knife run up the outer side to detach the bone from the flesh. By easing up the bone at the point where it has been cut through, the dresser may grasp the bone and with a smart pull towards the head of the fish rip the whole bone clean away from the flesh. See diagram.
The fish should then be scrubbed in fresh water with a whale-bone brush, Fig. 52, until all the gut and dark coloured membrane and ragged tissue are completely removed.
After being allowed to drip for ten minutes or so, the fish should be placed in brine for 15 or 20 minutes. The brine is prepared by dissolving coarse salt in water until a potato can float in the liquid. The fish should then be taken from the brine and again allowed to drip for a few minutes. Wooden spits are then pushed through the corners or "lugs" and the whole batch set across a box preparatory to smoking. Fig. 53.
A treacle barrel without a top or bottom makes a very good smoking house. Stand the barrel upright, the bottom raised about an inch off the ground all round. Place inside the barrel, on the ground, an old metal pot containing oak sawdust and oak chips. Any kind of saw-dust except pitch pine or beech is quite suitable. In the midst of the sawdust place a live coal and when the smoke is becoming dense lay the spits with the fish across the mouth of the barrel. Cover the top with a basket or box and over this spread a clean bag to keep in the smoke. The covering should not be absolutely smoke tight, as the fish will become over-heated, soften and drop into the smouldering sawdust beneath. Allow the fish to hang in the smoke until they are the desired colour. This may take about six or seven hours or perhaps less, depending entirely on the density of the smoke and the desirability of brownness. During this time, of course, the sawdust may have to be replenished if the pot be a small one. If a barrel cannot be obtained, a small house may be constructed for this purpose. When the fish are removed from the smoking chamber they should be allowed to hang in the air for a while until they are cold and firm. Figs. 54 and 55.
The herrings should not be gutted in the usual manner as for Cod and Haddocks. As the belly of the herring has such a thin covering the herring has to be split up the back and the head left on. Lay the fish on its right side and grasp with the left hand. Holding the knife in the right hand split the herring from the nose, through the head, along the back to the tail, pressing the knife blade on the back bone all the time. Open the herring and remove the gills and stomach. The fish should then be thoroughly washed and scrubbed, placed among brine and prepared in the same manner as for Finnans. The herrings should remain in the brine for twenty minutes or half an hour. Remove the herrings from the brine and without rinsing in water arrange them on spits as for Finnan Haddocks and allow to drip for ten minutes or so. During this interval prepare the smoke chamber or barrel for smoking. Oak sawdust and chips are the most efficient for smoking all kinds of fish. Place a live coal among the sawdust and chips and as soon as the smoke becomes dense set the fish in the chamber and allow to hang there for four or five hours or until they have acquired the desired colour. Of course, the barrel has to be covered in the same manner as for the smoking of haddocks.
Certain kinds of herrings are inclined to become dry during the smoking process, and often kipperers dip them in a brown dye before placing in the smoke kiln. Dyed kippers do not require to be smoked so long and therefore are juicier and more palatable. The powers that be are attempting meantime to prohibit the dyeing process, which is perfectly harmless, and to make dyeing a punishable offence. This will ultimately injure the kippering industry, which knows its business better than the legislators, and will confine the industry to kippering certain kinds of herrings only which are often unprocurable at certain seasons, just in the same way as Firth of Forth herrings, caught during the months of January and February, are unsuitable for curing as salt herrings. The public will also stand to lose a cheap and wholesome article of food.
This method of smoking haddocks was first carried out at Arbroath in Angus, Scotland, and hence the name Arbroath smokies. In the same way Finnans were first made in the little village of Findon, near Aberdeen, and the name has changed to Finnan.
In preparing the haddock for smokies one must not split the fish from head to tail as for the Finnan. The head is removed and the fish is split along the belly to the downward side of the anus, as illustrated in Fig. 47. It is then thoroughly washed, scrubbed clean and placed in brine, where it remains for twenty minutes or half an hour.
A rectangular hole, the dimensions of which depend on the number of fish to be treated, is dug in the ground to a depth of about seven feet. This is lined with brick or cement along the bottom and sides. A ledge is formed all round about a foot or thereby from the top of the hole. Some firelighters are laid on the bottom of the hole and set alight. On the top of the flame the chips and sawdust are placed, and immediately the fumes from the firelighters are dispersed the haddocks are laid over spits in pairs, the tails fastened together with string, Fig. 56, and the whole is set on the ledge already described. The top of the hole is covered with sacking or sail cloth and the fish are allowed to hang in the heat and smoke for twenty minutes. It must be observed that the fish are placed in the pit as soon as the flames from the chips are in full glow. In this way the fish are cooked as well as smoked, and are not like Finnan Haddocks which are smoked only and are not placed in the chamber until the flames have subsided and the smoke is dense. Fig. 57.
TO SALT AND DRY FISH
Many sea fish are rather coarse in the flesh and are not palatable if eaten fresh. This particularly applies to the Coalfish and Pollack. It must not, however, be supposed that these fish cannot be eaten fresh, for many Scottish people relish them cooked fresh. In any case, if the fish caught are not to be sold, and if the catch be a heavy one and cannot all be used fresh, it is quite a good plan to dry them. The writer dries all fish which cannot be used at once, and when his vacation is ended they are transported home where they serve to vary the winter menu.
The fish should be split, dressed, scrubbed and washed thoroughly. They are then placed in a tub or receptacle, the bottom of which has been liberally sprinkled with coarse salt. The fish are laid on top of this and again sprinkled with a fairly liberal quantity of salt. Ordinary household salt is useless for this purpose, coarse salt being the only satisfactory variety, and the coarser the better. This salt may be purchased quite cheaply in any town where fish curing is carried on. After the fish have been salted down they are allowed to lie in the salt for 4 or 5 days, during which time the salt has drawn the moisture from the fish and has been dissolved, forming a brine. The fish should be lifted out of the brine and laid out to dry in the sun.
The method usually employed is to make a wooden frame and stretch wire-netting over it, securing the edges with staples. This should be placed out of the reach of cats by swinging it like a hammock between poles. The fish are then laid on the netting in such a way as to get full benefit of the sun's rays. At regular intervals during the day the fish are turned. As soon as the sun's heat is on the wane the fish are gathered either indoors or in a suitable place and laid on a board. The bottom row is placed on the board back downwards and the others are placed on top of them, backs upwards, so that several tiers may be laid down, back to back and flesh to flesh. Another board is then placed on top of the pile and a heavy weight, such as a few large stones, is laid on the top of the board. The whole is covered with tarpaulin to exclude wet or vermin. This pressure is necessary so that the fish will be dried in a flat condition, otherwise they would curl into inconvenient shapes. It should he remembered that rain retards the drying process and so strict watch should be kept to see that they are covered or taken indoors during rain.
This drying process goes on until the fish are hard and white with the salt. The length of time to be exposed depends entirely on the weather. The months of May, June, July and the first two weeks of August in northern latitudes are the best times for drying fish. After this time dews and frosts, together with the shorter sunlight, make the drying process a lengthy one, and often whole batches of fish have to be used before the winter arrives. When the fish are thoroughly dried they may be stored in dry places under pressure and used as required. A good method is to pack them in boxes and fill all the intervening spaces round them with corn husks.
"Speldings" is the name given to dried whiting by Scottish people. The whitings are dressed, cleaned and salted down as for larger fish. They are allowed to remain in the salt for a day or so, after which they are lifted out of the brine and laid out on wire-netting frames to dry in the sun.
Although speldings may be boiled as salt fish, the usual method of cooking is to broil on a brander or grid-iron, either before or above a clear fire. Little broiling is required as the fish are partially cooked by the sun. In fact many people eat them without any cooking at all. After broiling, the fish should be placed in a bowl containing hot water. This softens the flesh and makes it more succulent, besides removing much of the salt. In many parts of Scotland enterprising publicans display boxes containing speldings on the bar counters with the caption "Help yourself". It is needless to state the reason.
TO SALT HERRINGS
The herrings are gutted but should not be washed and cleaned. Insert a small bladed knife through the gills sideways and gripping the gills with the thumb on top of blade, draw the gills and stomach out. This is all that is required.
A liberal sprinkling of coarse salt is placed in the bottom of the barrel, and the herrings are packed bellies up and heads towards the sides of the Barrel. Fig. 58.
The breadth of a herring barrel usually accommodates three herrings abreast. The commencing two end herrings should be laid down first and the third placed between. The third or middle herring may lie with head in either direction. As soon as one tier is packed tightly, a liberal sprinkling of salt is laid on. The second tier is now started at right angles to the first. This operation is continued until the barrel is filled, when the lid is put on loosely. It will be found that in a day or two the herrings have sunk a considerable distance in the barrel. In curing yards these barrels are filled up with herrings cured on the same day from other barrels. This "filling up" process has to be undertaken several times after which the lid is secured tightly to the barrel. The herrings should stand for a short time in this state before being used. Sometimes it may be necessary to lay the barrel on its side when packed to allow the salt to turn into brine. The brine formed will not be sufficient to cover all the herrings so the bung has to be taken out and the barrel filled up with more brine. In pouring in the brine large quantities of oil will float into the filler and this should be stored as it is a most valuable product.
Herrings may be smoked in the same manner as Arbroath Smokies. The procedure is exactly the same as for Arbroath Smokies.
COD LIVER OIL
As Cod Liver Oil is well known for its medicinal properties and for its efficacy in pulmonary troubles it may not be out of place here to give a few instructions on how this valuable oil may be produced. In many places in the north of Scotland the fisher folk prepare their own Cod Liver Oil, but it is not so pale in colour or so refined as that purchased in shops. In the modern manufacture of this oil one of the processes of refining requires a temperature of 18 degrees Fahrenheit or 14 degrees of frost before it can be carried out. This refining operation makes the production of a fine grade of oil impossible to the ordinary individual, never-the-less the type of oil described below, although rather brown in colour and very harsh to the palate, is in no way inferior in its efficacy to those who have the stomach to relish it. Remove the livers from the cod and place them in a conveniently sized bowl. Tie a piece of cloth or canvas round the mouth of the bowl and float this in a pot or boiler containing water. Bring the water to the boil, keeping the lid on. The steam heat from the water will extract the oil from the liver and this should be skimmed off and placed in another dish, poured through a flannel filter for purification and bottled.
Many of our trawl fishermen and liners often place livers in a tin and set it on the top of the boiler in the engine-room where the heat soon extracts the oil. They use this for rubbing into their leather sea-boots to keep the leather soft and pliable.
"Wartime Fish Cookery" (1943) Elizabeth Fuller Whiteman, Conservation Bulletin 27, United States Department of the Interior
Many housewives are apparently unaware of the wide variety of fishery products on the market, and the relative ease with which they may be prepared in economical and appetizing dishes. In this bulletin basic rules are included for frying, broiling, baking, planking and "boiling" fish. Specific directions for cooking show how the various retail cuts of fish and shellfish may be used; and it should be emphasized that the many local and less known kinds of fishery products usually make dishes as appetizing as the standard varieties.
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"Shepherd's Pie" (page 14)
"The ABC of Cookery" (1945) Ministry of Food, HMSO at pages 24 to 28
8. Fish. - Kinds of fish and best methods of serving - Buying fresh fish - How to prepare fish for cooking - How to boil fish - How to steam fish - How to grill fish - How to fry fish - How to bake fish - How to stew fish - Using up cooked or canned fish - How to carve whole fish - What to serve with fish.
"Cooking White Fish" (June 1947) Ministry of Food Leaflet No 2, HMSO
"Fish Cookery" (March 1948) Ministry of Food, HMSO
We are fortunate to be an island race. Our coasts have many fine harbours for ships and the seas round our shores teem with fish. Year in, year out, our fishermen bring us thousands of tons of the world's finest edible fish. While many nations with little or no seaboard would give much to have this valuable supply for its larder, we are inclined to think it dull and monotonous and do not always take the trouble to make as much use of it as we might. This attitude should be a challenge to the skill and ingenuity of our cooking, for the number of delicious fish dishes is legion. It is true that fish must be handled and cooked with care, but fish cookery is not difficult, nor does it demand long hours in the kitchen. It is therefore confidently hoped that the recipes in this booklet will bring new pleasures to all who enjoy good eating.
Why fish is a valuable food
- Fish is one of the best body-building foods (protein). Sea fish such as cod, haddock and herring contain about as much protein as meat. We all need protein, but growing children and expectant mothers need it most of all and they should eat plenty of fish. In addition, the oily fish, such as herring, mackerel and sprats, provide valuable amounts of vitamins A and D. Vitamin A keeps our eyes healthy and the linings of our breathing and digestive systems in good order, while vitamin D is necessary for the formation of strong bones and teeth.
- Fish is easily digested. The flesh fibres of fish are short and easily separated. They therefore cook easily and present less difficulty to our digestive organs than the fibres of other flesh foods. This is one reason why so many athletes train on fish.
- Fish helps to give variety to the menu. It can be served for breakfast, dinner, tea or supper; in salads, savoury snacks and sandwiches, as well as in the tastiest of pies and pasties.
"Now Cook Me The Fish: 146 fresh-water fish recipes" (1950) Margaret Butterworth
Acknowledgments 5 Author's Introduction 9 Foreword 11 Recipes for Fresh-Water Fish 17 Barbel 19 Bleak 22 Bream 23 Burbot or Eel-pout 25 Carp 27 Chub 35 Dace 37 Eel 39 Gudgeon 46 Minnow 48 Perch 50 Pike 54 Roach 62 Salmon 64 Tench 68 Trout 71 Mixed Catch Recipes 77 Sauces and Butters 85 Herbs in the Kitchen 93
Author's Introduction (page 9)
'First the fish must be caught.'
That is easy: a baby, I think, could have caught it.
'Next, the fish must be bought.'
That is easy: a penny, I think, would have bought it.
'Now cook me the fish!'
That is easy, and will not take more than a minute.
'Let it lie in a dish!'
That is easy, because it already is in it.
'Bring it here! Let me sup!'
It is easy to set such a dish on the table.
'Take the dish-cover up!'
Ah, that is so hard that I fear I'm unable!
For it holds it like glue -
Holds the lid to the dish, while it lies in the middle:
Which is easiest to do,
Un-dish-cover the fish, or discover the riddle?
The White Queen, Through the Looking Glass
The White Queen's 'lovely riddle' received no answer from Alice, and the riddle, we may presume, was never discovered.  It is the Author's hope, however, that a perusal of the following recipes may help to 'discover the riddle' which often confronts the angler in this country as to what to do with his catch, and that many a fish which might otherwise have been destined to return to its natural element may instead 'lie in a dish', forming as nourishing, and as appetizing, a meal as anyone could desire.
 Editor's note: the answer to the riddle is 'an oyster'.
Foreword (page 11)
Many people look upon fresh-water fish, with the exception, of course, of trout, salmon and the less aristocratic eel, as uneatable. Yet fresh-water fish were at one time in great repute in this country, and on the Continent they are still deemed worthy of a chef's skill and creative art. The chief reason for this neglect on our part of such nutritious, cheap and wholesome food is, perhaps, that 'they have lost part of their credit by ill cookery', as Izaak Walton says of the chub and the barbel. This is a pity, as most river fish when in season, and cooked as soon after being killed as possible, make excellent eating.
Whether the fish is to be boiled, baked, steamed, grilled or fried, it should first be cleaned, sealed, washed, and carefully dried, and boned if necessary.
Scaling and Boning
When scaling a fish hold it firmly with the left hand. Then take a small, sharp knife in your other hand, wet it in cold water, and, starting from the tail end, push against the scales with the blade, lifting them gently away from the fish until the head is reached. Turn the fish, and scale the other side in the same manner. It will help to keep the scales from flying about if the fish is held under a running tap during the process.
To bone a fish, cut off the head and the tail, then, taking a sharp, pointed knife, make a slit down the centre of the back from head to tail just deep enough to reach the backbone. Or, if preferred, open the fish by cutting along the belly. Gently open out the fish, and with the aid of the knife remove the backbone. If this is carefully done it will be found that most of the smaller bones will come away with it.
If the fish has been taken direct from a muddy pond, it is sometimes advisable to soak it in salt and water and then in a solution of vinegar and water before scaling or boning it, to mitigate any unpleasant brackish taste.
Frying is one of the most popular, as well as one of the quickest, methods of cooking small, whole fish and the fillets and steaks of larger ones.
When frying in shallow fat too fierce a heat should be avoided, otherwise the fish may scorch and its flavour be killed before it is cooked through. For this reason it is advisable to use a heavy pan.
If the fish to be fried is thick-fleshed, make three or four cuts on each side of it with a sharp knife nearly down to the bone. This helps to cook the fish more evenly and quickly. Heat sufficient fat just to cover the bottom of the frying-pan. Coat the fish in seasoned flour, batter, or egg-and-breadcrumbs, and as soon as the blue haze rises put in the fish and fry it until it is golden brown on one side. Then turn the fish so that the other side shall receive its share. Then remove the fish from the pan, and drain on absorbent paper.
For deep fat frying choose a deep, stout pan fitted with a wire basket. The pan should have enough fat in it to cover the fish completely, but at the same time it should never be much more than half full.
Heat the fat gently, roll the fish in flour, or in egg-and-breadcrumbs, and fry. The fish will rise to the surface of the boiling fat when cooked. Do not fry too many fish at once as this reduces the temperature of the fat with the result that the fish, instead of being crisply golden, are liable to be greasy and indigestible. Reheat the fat between each batch of frying.
Grilling is suitable for small whole fish and the fillets and steaks of larger ones.
Unless the fish is very small it should be scotched with a sharp knife on each side in three or four places. Brush the fish over with oil or melted fat, and grill it on a very hot grill. If the grill is not hot enough the fish may stick to the bars and break when it is being turned. The heat of the grill should be regulated by the size of the fish being cooked, small fish naturally requiring a fiercer heat than larger ones. Continue to brush the fish over with oil during the cooking process.
Braising, best fitted for large fish either whole or in large pieces, combines stewing and baking. To give flavour and moisture the fish 1s cooked on a bed of vegetables 1n a closely covered, well-buttered utensil 1n the oven.
Steaming is a slow process, and about twice the time allowed for boiling is required.
Fish cooked by this method retain their natural goodness, and are very easily digested. It is one of the simplest ways of cooking fish. The fish, after being washed in salt and water, is placed in the steamer, and needs little attention except to see that enough boiling water is kept in the bottom compartment to generate the required steam.
Small fish or pieces of fish may be placed between two plates and steamed over a saucepan of boiling water.
Boiling is considered by the majority of people to be the easiest way of cooking fish, although perhaps more fish are spoilt by boiling than by any other mode of cooking. As a matter of fact a fish should never be boiled. It should be poached. Immediately the liquid in which it is cooked comes to the boil, lower the heat, or move the fish-kettle to the side of the fire, and simmer very gently until the fish begins to leave the bone. On an average ten minutes to the pound and ten minutes over is required.
Fish can be delicious poached in salt and water, but as a rule it has an added interest if cooked in a court-bouillon.
Here are three recipes for court-bouillon.
Court-Bouillon with white wine vinegar
Slice up an onion, a carrot and a shallot, and sauté them in a very little butter for a few minutes. Add water and white wine vinegar - about half a wineglassful of vinegar to one pint of water - a pinch of kitchen salt, and a bouquet garni (a bunch of herbs tied up with thread) of a few parsley stalks, a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf.
Bring to the boil, and simmer for about half an hour, adding two or three peppercorns ten minutes before the cooking is completed.
Strain the liquor, and put aside until cold.
Court-Bouillon with red wine
This is made in much the same way as the above except that red wine is used in the place of the water and vinegar. If necessary, the wine can be diluted with fumet (a well-concentrated fish stock) to make it go farther.
Court-Bouillon with white wine
Equal parts of white wine and water are used. The cooking and the other ingredients are similar to those in the recipe for court-bouillon with red wine.
Beer or cider may be used instead of the white wine with quite good results.
A simple form of fumet without wine can be made by boiling about a quarter of a pound of chopped up raw fish bones and trimmings in two pints of water with a small minced onion, a few parsley stalks or a piece of parsley root, one or two peppercorns, a little lemon juice and a pinch of kitchen salt.
Boil these gently with the lid on the saucepan for twenty minutes, and then strain.
The peppercorns should only be put in about seven minutes before straining as otherwise they will give a bitter taste to the fumet.
Common Terms Used in Cooking (pages 15 to 16)
A mixture, the essential ingredients being olive oil, sliced onion, salt, pepper and herbs, in which fish are steeped before cooking, to give them flavour.
A bunch of herbs used for flavouring, consisting usually of a few stalks of fresh parsley, a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf tied up with thread or twine.
The herbs should be removed before the dish is served.
The equivalent to the bouquet garni in dried herbs would be about one dessertspoonful of the above herbs mixed.
To boil fish until partially cooked, from one-third to one-half the usual time. The cooking of the fish is often finished by frying or grilling.
To brown lightly in a small amount of butter or fat.
Pound in a mortar half an ounce each of dried thyme, fennel, marjoram, summer savory, cloves, nutmeg and black pepper. Mix these together thoroughly, sieve finely, and bottle for use.
Oven temperatures in baking fish
- Slow oven: 250 to 825° Fahrenheit, Regulo mark ¼ to 2
- Moderate oven: 350° Fahrenheit, Regulo mark 3
- Moderately hot oven: 375° Fahrenheit, Regulo mark 4
- Hot oven: 400 to 450° Fahrenheit, Regulo mark 7
- Very hot oven: 460 to 500° Fahrenheit, Regulo mark 9 to 10
Note: a little mustard in the washing-up water will take away any fishy taste from dishes, knives, forks, etc. It will also remove the smell of fish from the hands.
Part One: Recipes for Fresh-Water Fish (pages 19 to 76)
… resume here page 19
Part Two: Mixed Catch Recipes (page 77)
Fish soups and stews are delicious as everyone knows who has tasted them. Bouillabaisse, a sort of hotchpotch of the two, is described by W. M. Thackeray:
This Bouillabaisse a noble dish is,
A sort of soup, or broth, or brew
Or hotch-potch of all sorts of fishes
That Greenwich never could outdo;
Green herbs, red peppers, mussels, saffron,
Soles, onions, garlic, roach and dace;
All these you eat at Terre's tavern
In that one dish of Bouillabaisse.
The traditional bouillabaisse can only be made on the shores of the Mediterranean as the rascasse, an essential fish in the true bouillabaisse, is not to be found elsewhere. A fresh-water fish bouillabaisse, however, is not to be despised.
Wash and clean two pounds of mixed fish, i.e. carp, dace, rudd, ruff, roach, barbel, tench, eel, small trout, etc. The more kinds of fish used the better, as each will give its particular flavour to the preparation. Cut them in small pieces across. Put into a stewpan two sliced onions, four skinned, seeded, chopped tomatoes, the white of one leek chopped, one crushed clove of garlic, some chopped parsley and fennel, a bay leaf and a pinch of saffron. Add sufficient olive oil barely to cover the bottom of the pan and the firmer fleshed fish. Cover the whole with boiling water, season, and cook rapidly for five minutes. (Rapid boiling is essential to prevent the oil from remaining on the surface.) Add half a glass of white wine, and the softer fish, and boil hard for seven minutes. Then pour off the liquid into a hot tureen containing thick slices of bread. Put the pieces of fish into a shallow dish and sprinkle with parsley. Serve the two dishes at the same time.
For this plain water stew of fish, prepare the fish, eel, tench, carp, etc., in the same manner as for matelotte, and place the pieces in a stewpan with sufficient water just to cover them. Add some parsley roots or stalks, and boil briskly for twenty minutes. When the fish are cooked reduce the liquor, and thicken it with flour kneaded with butter. Serve very hot. Hand slices of thin bread and butter with the stew.
Most kinds of fish can be cooked alone in this fashion, but a matelotte of mixed fishes is particularly good. Prepare, and head and tail, two pounds of fish and cut them into convenient pieces. Slice two onions and fry them without coloration. Put the onions into a stewpan, add a piece of crushed garlic, a bouquet of parsley, thyme and bay leaf, a little salt and a bottle of red wine (Burgundy, if procurable) or cider if you prefer it, and the pieces of fish. Bring quickly to the boil, and while boiling add, on special occasions, a small wineglassful of brandy and set it alight. When the brandy has burnt out, cover and boil smartly for fifteen minutes.
Remove the fish and keep hot. Strain the liquor, boil until much reduced, and thicken with flour and kneaded butter. Add pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, some mushrooms, and small button onions, which have previously been fried in butter, and lastly the fish and simmer for five minutes.
Garnish with croûtons of fried bread.
Here is another recipe for river fish stew.
Prepare the fish, eels, pike, carp, tench, perch, etc. Cut them up roughly and put them into a saucepan with a good-sized piece of butter, some onions, four or five cloves of garlic, salt, pepper and enough white wine to cover them.
Boil for about twenty minutes, and then thicken with a mixture of flour and melted butter. When cooked, chop the fish again. Arrange the fish and vegetables on a hot dish, pour the sauce over them, garnish with strips of toasted bread, and serve. [Burgundian]
The following recipe is a quick and simple way of cooking a mixed catch of small fish.
Prepare the small fish, roach, ruff, rudd, tench, gudgeon, perch, etc.; take off their heads and tails. Dip each fish in salted milk - about two teaspoonfuls of salt to a breakfast cup of milk, and roll them in seasoned breadcrumbs. Arrange the fish in a greased baking dish, cover well with shavings of butter, and bake them quickly in the oven for about ten minutes.
Serve with Béarnaise sauce.
Mixed Fry and Chips
Clean and dry the small fish - gudgeon, bleak, dace, roach, rudd and so on, toss them in seasoned flour, and put them into the frying basket, and fry them in boiling oil or clarified fat until they are crisply brown. Then drain them on kitchen paper, and keep hot for a few minutes.
Peel some potatoes and wipe them dry with a clean cloth, cut them into small, thin strips and dust them lightly with a little flour. Reheat the fat, and fry the potato chips a deep golden brown. Drain them well, pile the fish on a hot dish, and surround them with the crisp chips. Sprinkle with salt and cayenne, garnish with sprays of fried parsley, and serve with tomato sauce.
Mixed Fry au Gratin
Wash and clean the fish. Head and tail them and lay them in a well-buttered fireproof dish on a layer of sage and onion stuffing (stuffing straight from a packet will do). Season the fish with salt and spiced pepper. Add a quarter of a pint of well-flavoured fumet, and cover with another layer of stuffing. Sprinkle the whole liberally with melted butter, and bake in the oven for about ten to fifteen minutes with the Regulo at mark 3. The top should be nicely browned.
Take any fish that may have been left over from Consolation Soup, etc. Beat it up with butter, chopped savoury herbs and a few shrimps or anchovies if liked. Season with salt and paprika pepper, and bind with a thick Béchamel sauce.
Make some thin, small pancakes. Roll the fish mixture in them. Heat them up in the oven, and serve very hot.
Hand velouté sauce.
Cornish Mixed Fish Pie
Toss the fish in seasoned flour, and lay them in a well-buttered pie-dish. Add some chopped parsley and a minced onion. Cover with meat broth and put on a pastry lid with a hole in the centre.
When baked, pour in a little cream through the hole, and serve at once.
Wash, clean and head and tail a medley of small river fish.
Fry lightly in fat some sliced potatoes, onions and as many other white vegetables as desired.
Put the fish into a saucepan with a bunch of mixed herbs, add the vegetables and enough water to cover.
Boil the fish and vegetables to a pulp, rub through a coarse sieve, and season well with salt and pepper. Reheat, and pour the soup into a deep dish, sprinkle with small crumbs of bread fried in butter, and serve very hot.
Part Three: Sauces and Butters (pages 87 to 92)
Add one tablespoonful of anchovy essence, or two ounces of anchovy butter, to three quarters of a pint of white (melted butter) sauce, made as follows: Melt one ounce of butter or margarine, stir in half an ounce of flour, and add gradually three-quarters of a pint of milk and fish stock. Let it come to the boil, stirring meanwhile to prevent lumps forming. Then let it simmer for ten minutes. Blend well and colour with a little cochineal if liked.
Put one dessertspoonful of finely chopped sweet basil leaves into a small saucepan with one ounce of butter, and a little fumet. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for a few minutes. Take it off the fire, whip in the yolk of an egg, and serve at once. This sauce should not be allowed to boil.
Mince a small shallot, put it into a saucepan with three tablespoonfuls of tarragon vinegar and a pinch of pepper, and simmer for a minute or two. Let it cool and then stir in the yolks of two eggs, place the pan over a low heat and add gradually about three ounces of melted butter. Strain the sauce, and finish with a little chopped tarragon and chervil.
Put one pint of milk, or milk and fish stock, a bay leaf, a stick of celery and an onion stuck with four peppercorns into a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Cover the pan and set aside near the fire for a short time, and then strain. Make a white roux in the usual way. Take it off the fire, add the strained infused milk, and season with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well. Put the saucepan back on the fire, bring to the boil and boil for ten minutes, whisking well until the sauce thickens. Add more milk if necessary.
Melt one ounce of butter in a saucepan and stir in one ounce of flour. Add one pint of milk and fish stock, and cook for ten minutes, stirring all the time. Add one tablespoonful of halved capers, one teaspoonful of vinegar from the capers, pepper and salt. Cook for four minutes and serve.
Plunge about two ounces of fresh dill leaves in salted boiling water for two or three minutes. Then press dry, chop the leaves, but not the stalks, and add them to one pint of melted butter sauce. Season and blend for one minute.
Egg and Lemon Sauce
Mix two teaspoonfuls of cornflour with the strained juice of two lemons, add three-quarters of a pint of hot fish stock, stir over a gentle heat till boiling, and simmer for three minutes. Remove from the heat, and when slightly cooled pour on two lightly beaten eggs. Stand the basin over a saucepan of hot water and stir the sauce till it thickens, but do not reboil or it will curdle.
Boil a bunch of fennel in salted water for three minutes. Drain it, plunge it into cold water and press it dry. Then chop the leaves, but not the stalks, very fine. Season, and add the puree to one pint of melted butter sauce. Or, boil the fennel in the same water in which you do the fish it is to accompany, and when tender, take it out, and, chopping it up fine, mix it with plain melted butter.
Cook one pound of green gooseberries and some finely minced chives over a slow heat with two tablespoonfuls of water. When the juice begins to flow increase the heat. Cook until soft. Add one teaspoonful of nutmeg, pepper, salt, a teaspoonful of sugar to take off the sharpness, and beat in by degrees three tablespoonfuls of butter. Finish with a little lemon juice. This sauce is excellent with boiled eel.
Make two ounces of slightly browned roux, and moisten it with one pint of fumet. Blend well, season, bring to the boil and boil gently for about fifteen minutes. Finish off the fire with a teaspoonful or two of minced shallot and two tablespoonfuls of mixed chopped herbs - parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil and basil.
There are various recipes for this sauce. The following is a simple one: Put into a small double saucepan the yolks of two eggs and two tablespoonfuls of water. Whip these well together while they are cold. Place the saucepan over a low heat and whip until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan and stir in by degrees four tablespoonfuls of butter. Return the pan to the fire, and whip until the sauce is smooth and thick as cream. Just before serving season with cayenne, and a squeeze of lemon juice. This sauce must never be allowed to boil.
To three-quarters of a pint of Béchamel sauce add two tablespoonfuls of grated horse-radish, a pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne, and if liked, the chopped white of an egg.
Cold Mayonnaise Sauce
Put two egg yolks into a basin with a teaspoonful of made mustard and a pinch each of salt and pepper and whisk them well together. Then add a gill of olive oil drop by drop, stirring all the time. When the sauce thickens add gradually one tablespoonful of vinegar - tarragon vinegar, if possible - and mix thoroughly. To avoid curdling, the oil should never be too cold. If, however, your mayonnaise curdles try adding it gradually to a little more mustard.
Add to a pint of Béchamel sauce a binding of one egg yolk, two ounces of grated cheese, Gruyere and Parmesan if procurable, and one ounce of butter. If too thick, dilute with fumet.
Mix smoothly together a dessertspoonful of mustard with vinegar, stir the mixture into half a pint of well-seasoned white sauce and bring to the boil.
To a well-buttered white sauce add plenty of chopped parsley, and a little lemon juice if liked.
Put a minced onion into a saucepan with two tablespoonfuls of vinegar. Boil until the vinegar is much reduced, then stir in three-quarters of a pint of good brown sauce. Add about a tablespoonful each of chopped gherkins and chopped capers and simmer gently for four or five minutes and serve.
Throw a bunch of young sorrel leaves into boiling, slightly salted water, and boil fast until tender. Fast boiling conserves the vitamins better than slow boiling. Drain the sorrel, chop the leaves finely or rub them through a sieve. Work plenty of butter or cream into the purée, thicken with brown roux and season with salt, pepper and a little sugar if liked. Add fish stock as required, boil for four or five minutes, stirring well, and the sauce is ready.
Cold Tartar Sauce
Add finely chopped olives, gherkins, capers, parsley and chives to mayonnaise sauce.
Put three pounds of tomatoes into a saucepan with a gill of water, and cook them until they are soft, then rub them through a hair sieve. Return the tomatoes to the pan with three-quarters of a pint of vinegar, one teaspoonful of salt and a little cayenne. Add, tied in a piece of muslin so that they may easily be removed, two cloves of garlic, ten peppercorns, a small piece of bruised ginger, a blade of mace, and a bouquet of parsley, thyme and bay leaf, and boil until the sauce becomes as thick as cream.
Cut up some mushroom trimmings and put them into a stewpan with a pint of fumet, a few peppercorns and herbs tied in muslin, and simmer for twenty minutes. Then strain, and add gradually three ounces of slightly brown roux, stirring well. Bring to the boil, season with salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and a few drops of lemon juice, and cook for seven or eight minutes. A little cream can be added before serving if liked.
Pound two ounces of tinned anchovies with three ounces of butter. Rub through a sieve.
Heat one ounce of butter in a frying pan until it begins to brown, then add with care, as it is likely to spit, a few drops of vinegar. A spray of parsley can be added if liked to flavour the butter.
Maître D'Hôtel Butter
Cream five ounces of softened butter, season with salt and pepper. Add one dessertspoonful of chopped parsley, and a few drops of lemon juice. Other finely chopped herbs are sometimes included.
The butter should only just be melted and no more. A little salt and a drop of lemon juice may be added if liked. It should be used immediately.
Shrimps pounded with an equal weight of butter. Pass through the sieve. If a deep pink is desired colour with a little cochineal.
Put a chopped shallot into a pan with two tablespoonfuls of white wine vinegar, and cook until the vinegar is much reduced. Remove from the fire and add gradually a quarter of a pound of seasoned butter.
Part Four: Herbs in the Kitchen (pages 95 to 102)
Herbs in the Kitchen
There is hardly a fresh-water fish recipe for which some herb or other is not prescribed as a flavouring agent. The judicious use of culinary herbs may be said to be the secret of good cooking, and no really self-respecting cook nowadays considers her kitchen complete without them in some form or other.
Herbs naturally give a more delicate flavour to sauces, stuffings, stews, fricassees and soups if freshly gathered, but beyond a bunch of tired-looking parsley, herbs, even in a semi-fresh condition, are difficult to obtain at the shops. For anyone with a garden, however, even a small one, a few herbs may easily be grown for supplying the demands of the kitchen. These may be planted wherever there is a suitable spot for them. Their cultivation is not difficult and involves very little extra work, and the herbs which are often quite ornamental, and are usually sweet smelling, give an added charm and interest to a garden.
The tips of the leaves are used in cooking to impart their warm, clove-like flavour to soups, fish dishes, tomatoes, etc. The two species of this herb generally grown for culinary purposes are the common or sweet basil, and the bush or lesser basil. The name basil, derived from the specific, signifies royal or kingly, and was given to the herb because 'the smell thereof is fit for a king's house'. The basil came originally from tropical Asia, and though it has been growing in England for the last three hundred years it will not live through an English winter. Basil, however, is easily grown from seed in spring. It prefers a light, sandy, friable soil, and does best when planted out in a warm, sheltered border. The ground should be kept loose, open, and as free from weeds as possible.
The first gathering of leaves should commence about June when the herbs start to flower. The plants may then be cut to within an inch or so of the ground. The stumps left will soon develop a new crop of foliage.
The leaves keep their flavour when dried and a few plants may be cut down for this purpose. For winter use, some of the herbs, too, may be potted and brought indoors. The bush or lesser basil makes attractive, compact little pot plants.
Bay will thrive and become a handsome shrub or tree if given a sheltered place in the garden. The leaves exude a delightful scent and impart a delicate flavour to fish dishes. They are invaluable as one of the ingredients of the bouquet garni, in the court-bouillon and in the marinade.
The leaves of the common laurel are sometimes used as a substitute. Care should be taken, however, not to use in error the leaves of the cherry laurel as these are poisonous. The bay thrives best in a sandy, well-drained soil, and may be propagated by cuttings in early summer. The cuttings should be inserted in a frame and kept shaded for the first ten days, and planted out later in a warm sheltered situation.
Chervil is a valuable kitchen herb. The leaves which are pleasantly aromatic are used with other herbs for seasoning soups, fish dishes, dressings and mixed salads. The leaves, especially the curled variety, make a very attractive garnish to cold dishes.
Chervil is a hardy annual, and may be sown in any ordinary soil in a sunny spot nearly all the year around, about two months before the herbs are wanted for use. The herbs should be cut off close to the ground; young shoots will soon grow again. The correct time for gathering the foliage is when the plants are three or four inches high.
This herb is said to possess many medicinal virtues. In the language of the ancient Greeks chervil, from which the word was borrowed, appears to have meant 'the gladdening leaf', the herb being said to be an excellent tonic for restoring the spirits.
Chives are cultivated for their succulent leaves, onion-like, but much more delicate in flavour. They are invaluable for flavouring all fish dishes and should be used when freshly gathered. The small rather tough little bulbs are not eaten, but only the green spiky leaves. These, when wanted for use, should be cut with a large pair of scissors close to the ground. They will soon spring up again.
Chives will grow in any ordinary soil and need little attention. They can be raised from seed, but are usually propagated by root division in the autumn. Chives should not be permitted to grow in the same place for more than two or three years. A few plants may be potted and brought indoors to supply the kitchen during the winter.
This little plant with its green spiky leaves and pale lilac-coloured flowers makes a pretty edging to a garden bed.
The tender young leaves are used in flavouring fish sauces, etc.
Dill derives its name from a Saxon word signifying to lull, to soothe, and the herb is said to be soothing to the digestive as well as to the nervous system. Dill is a hardy annual, like fennel in appearance though smaller. It is of easy culture, and may be raised from seed in March and April. The seeds should be sown where the plants are to remain.
The leaves, which have a warm aromatic taste and possess valuable digestive properties, are used for seasoning sauces.
Fennel is often served with salmon to correct the oily indigestibility of that fish. In former times it was the practice to boil fennel with all fish.
Fennel is a handsome ornamental plant and will thrive almost anywhere, and a good bed of it will last for years. It likes plenty of sun and is easily propagated by seed in April. The bright yellow flowers appear in July and August, but unless the seeds are needed for sowing purposes the flower stems should be cut down as soon as they appear.
Garlic is not liked by everybody, but a taste of it, expertly used, sometimes gives a subtle flavour to a dish that saves it from being dull and insipid.
This powerfully pungent perennial requires similar culture to the shallot, and is propagated by separation of the cloves of which the bulbous root is composed. The plant, however, becomes coarse in our northern climate and as the cloves can be bought, there is no real need to grow them.
There are two species of marjoram generally cultivated for culinary use. Pot, or perennial, marjoram and sweet, or knotted, marjoram. The whole plant has a very pleasant scent. The leaves, flowers, and young stem tips are employed for seasoning soups, sauces, stews, salads and dressings. A sprig of sweet marjoram is sometimes cooked with fish and gives an agreeable flavour to the dish.
Sweet marjoram, native to North Africa, is rather delicate and is usually raised from seed in slight heat in March, and transplanted later to a sunny, sheltered border. Perennial marjoram also is easily grown from seed but once the herb is established it may be propagated by division of roots, cuttings or layers.
Shakespeare says of sweet marjoram in As You Like It, 'We may pick a thousand salads ere we light on such another herb'.
This useful, hardy biennial plant, native to the Mediterranean shores, has been cultivated for the last 2,000 years. Parsley is the most widely grown of all garden herbs. Its uses as a garnish as well as the employment of its leaves, finely chopped, as a seasoning for sauces, stuffings, dressings and fricassees are familiar. The fleshy tap-root formed by some varieties is highly esteemed for flavouring fish stews. These roots resemble those of parsnips in shape and size, but their flavour is somewhat like that of celery.
Parsley prefers a well-worked soil, and a moist, partially shaded position. For a continuous supply of parsley, sowings may be made in February if the weather permits, in April, in July and again in early August for winter use, but a well-established bed will seed itself.
As parsley seed is slow to germinate, those needed for early sowing may be soaked for twenty-four hours in tepid water before they are planted, to wake up the germs. A few plants may be potted and placed on the kitchen window-sill for winter use.
The tender young sprigs are occasionally used, in conjunction with other herbs, for flavouring fish dishes.
Rosemary is propagated by means of cuttings, root divisions, and layers in early spring. It is also easily raised by seed. This hardy evergreen with its small lilac flowers, and pale, grey-green leaves is a familiar garden plant.
The leaves of summer savory have a distinctive taste, and are used in cookery for seasoning fish sauces, salads and stews. The flavour of summer savory is more delicate than that of winter savory.
Summer savory is an annual, and may be raised from seed sown in the open during May. It likes a sunny, sheltered position. For drying for winter use the plants should be cut down just as they begin to flower.
Winter savory is a perennial and is used as a seasoning in the same manner as summer savory. This wiry little bush grows well in stony ground. It has lavender coloured flowers and makes a very pleasing addition to a rockery. Winter savory may be grown either from seed or cuttings.
The shallot or eschallot is a Syrian bulb. It is invaluable for seasoning purposes. The flavour is more delicate than that of the onion, and more pronounced than that of the chive. In many dishes the presence of the shallot is almost indispensable as nothing can quite take its place.
The shallot does not really belong with the herbs, but they are so often used for seasoning fish dishes, and reference has been so frequently made to them in the recipes, that a short description has been included.
Shallots may be planted in autumn or in spring in good light soil, preferably in a warm situation. Their culture differs but little from what is necessary in the culture of ordinary small onions.
The leaves of this plant should be gathered singly for use. They are employed in flavouring sauces and other fish preparations. A purée of sorrel is popular served with fish. The cultivated sorrel is more succulent and less acid than our native meadow plant.
Sorrel is propagated by division and grows well in ordinary soil. To ensure large leaves sorrel should not be allowed to flower.
Tansy, or 'Ginger' as it is sometimes called on account of its warm spicy taste, is very occasionally used as a substitute for flavouring instead of ginger. In former days it was in much request by our ancestors for seasoning dishes, cakes and puddings in the spring as it was considered to be 'good for the stomache', as John Gerarde tells us, after winter's scarcity of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Tansy is a perennial and thrives in damp ditches, and is to be found growing wild by the roadside and in waste places. The yellow, button-like flowers - whose likeness to large daisies without rays have earned them the nickname Bachelors' Buttons - and dark-green foliage make it an ornamental enough plant. It may be planted in any odd corner of the garden but the taste of tansy is too strong for most people.
The leaves have a fragrant smell as well as an aromatic rather strong flavour. They are much used in seasoning fish sauces and dishes, and as a decoction in tarragon vinegar. Tarragon is also the only authentic flavouring for tartar sauce.
Tarragon is impatient of cold and succeeds best in warm, dry situations, where the soil is poor. In winter the plant usually needs a certain amount of protection from frost. Tarragon seldom produces fertile flowers in this country and is propagated by root divisions in March and April, and also by cuttings.
This little aromatic sweet herb is well known for its culinary uses, and a sprig of thyme always forms a part of the ubiquitous bouquet garni.
Thyme is easily grown, and may be raised from April-sown seed in good, light soil, or it may be increased by root divisions or cuttings. It thrives best, and is more aromatic, when grown in dry stony ground.
Drying and Storing Culinary Herbs for Winter Use
To quote the advice on the drying of herbs given by an old herbalist:
"Gather herbs when the sap is full in the top of them. Such herbs as you intend to gather for drying, to keep for use all the winter, do it about Lamma-tide; dry them in the shade that the sun draw not out their vertue, but in a clear air, and breezy wind, that no mustiness may taint them."
Herbs should be gathered on a fine dry morning, as soon as the dew has dried.
The basils, marjorams, savorys, fennel, sage, thyme, mint and most of the other herbs should be cut down just before they flower, and hung in loose bunches in a shady, airy place. The leaves of parsley, however, may be picked as soon as they become a dark green colour, and dried on sheets of paper in a cool oven. To keep parsley a good colour the sprays may first be dipped in very hot water for a second, shaken, and dried thoroughly before they are placed in the oven.
When the herbs are dry enough, they may be crumbled between the hands, the stalks discarded, and the powdered herbs poured into wide-necked, airtight bottles or jars. The bottles should then be labelled, and stored in a cool place.
"Madame Prunier's Fish Cookery Book: 1000 Famous Recipes" (1955 - reset and revised edition) Ambrose Heath & Madame Simone Barnagaud Prunier
Editor's note: Madame Prunier's grandfather had a fish restaurant near the Madeleine in Paris, and when his son followed him into the trade they were soon running the most fashionable place to eat in the city. Madame Prunier took over the management at the age of 22, so she was an experienced restaurateur when she came to London in the 1930s. Following the opening of a London restaurant, in 1938 she published her best menus in the celebrated 'Fish Cookery'. The first chapter gives advice on what to look for when buying fish and shellfish, followed by sauces to accompany fish dishes such as hollandaise and aioli. Hors d'oeuvres include Croquettes à la Dieppoise and Piroguis au Poisson, and the selection of fish soups covers a wide range, including several types of bouillabaisse. Fresh and salt-water fish have separate sections, and shellfish recipes include not only a variety of ways with lobster, but dishes incorporating Dublin Bay Prawns and the classic Moules à la Marinière. A chapter on turtle, frogs and snails opens with the immortal words: "It is unlikely that most of us will ever have to deal with a turtle" but if we do, here are the instructions. 'Some Prunier specialities' are followed by notes on wine.
The first English edition was published in July 1938.
Editor's Introduction Page ix Foreword by Madame Simone Barnagaud Prunier Page xi Prefaces and Introduction to Original French Edition Page xix Chapter I Advice on Buying Fish - Elementary Rules for Cooking Fish Page 1 Chapter II Auxiliary Preparations for Fish Dishes Page 12 Chapter III Savoury Butters and Sauces Page 24 Chapter IV Hors-d'œuvre - Cold Page 41 Chapter IV Hors-d'œuvre - Hot Page 51 Chapter V Soups Page 63 Chapter VI Fresh-Water Fish Page 78 Chapter VII Salt-Water Fish Page 106 Chapter VIII Shellfish Page 208 Chapter IX Turtle - Frogs - Snails Page 252 Chapter X Some Prunier Specialities Page 264 Chapter XI A Note on Wine and Fish Page 272 Chapter XII A Short Glossary of Terms used in Cooking Page 276 Classified Index - French Page 283 Classified Index - English Page 293
When Madame Prunier asked me to edit and translate this book, I was not only greatly flattered, but very excited. It is not often the lot of what I may perhaps call a professional gastronomer to come across a really thrilling cookery book, but here was one at last. I read it with the avidity of a novice, and with the approval of an adept!
It is a remarkable book, and one that should take its place among the classics of the kitchen, I hope. Fish books are few and far between, and here is one that puts all the rest I have seen to shame. It is naturally not absolutely encyclopaedic, but there are enough recipes in it to keep all the cooks in England busy for some time to come before they have tried them all.
It is an odd thing that to an island race, used perhaps to eating fish more than most other European nations, a French woman should have come to teach us how to prepare it, but perhaps not so odd after all, since it was a woman bearing a name which is a household word in Europe for fish. Emboldened perhaps by the revival of interest in food which has been taking place during the last few years, Madame Prunier opened her restaurant in London, and immediately set about teaching us what we could do with the fish that all our shores shower upon us. And she hit the spirit of the time, by beginning to popularize the cheaper sorts of fish, herring, mackerel, gurnard, skate - fishes which we had been used to look at askance. And she accomplished what was almost a miracle by inducing fashionable diners-out to ask for herrings, and like them, too!
Although this book contains many recipes that are rare and elaborate, it is the simplicity of most of them that I should like to stress. I know that it is often very difficult to get cooks to take the trouble they should, and when the cooking devolves upon the housewife herself, she may find that she has not as much time as she could wish; but when I read the book for the first time, and afterwards when I was engaged in the business of editing it, I could not help feeling how strangely easy and inexpensive most of the dishes are, in spite of an occasional rather awe-inspiring name or two!
If readers will look closely into this, instead of being a little nervous of unfamiliar nomenclature, they will, I believe, come to the same conclusion. There is one other comment that I should like to make, and that is, that the chapters on the actual business of cooking, and preparing the auxiliary dishes too, should be carefully read before any further step is taken. Words and phrases which are unfamiliar at first sight will lose all their terrors if their meaning is understood right away.
For the convenience of professional chefs, the French names of the dishes have been retained, but the name of the fish will be found in English at the head of each page, and a very complete index has been supplied.
It has been a very great pleasure to me to compile this book, and I almost wish I had it all to do over again. It seems to me to be attuned to our modern culinary ideas, and I am sure that many tables will be brightened by its contents.
Longstock, May 1938
Foreword by Madame S. B. Prunier
I take great pleasure in presenting to English readers a new edition of my Fish Cookery Book. It has been completely revised and is augmented by fresh recipes which my late chef and collaborator, M. Maurice Cochois, and I have made popular. This encourages, me to hope that it will have even greater success than its predecessor, which was in constant demand from its publication in 1938, in spite of the rationing restrictions of the war years. I should also like to thank again my editor and translator, Ambrose Heath, whose culinary and gastronomical knowledge made him such an excellent interpreter.
The favour with which my book has been received in America and on the Continent, as well as in England, is possibly due to the fact that it has the unusual distinction of being devoted almost entirely to the cooking of fish and shellfish. Moreover, it is not limited to those species which come in the luxury category, but deals with those that are - so erroneously - known as "common". I firmly believe that all fish are equally good if they reach the table fresh, well cooked, and tastefully served, and if my recipes persuade my readers to ask their fishmongers for cod, hake, sea bream, herring, skate, rock salmon, gurnard, and the rest, I shall be well pleased.
It may seem surprising that a Frenchwoman should say this, but my father, Emile Prunier, who was a leading fishery expert as well as a great restaurateur, fought this same prejudice, which both harms the industry itself and robs our tables of a delicious variety of dishes. Just before he died, some thirty years ago, he explained to his chef and collaborator M. Michel Bouzy, and to me, how he would like to encourage people to eat more fish, especially of the commoner kinds, and to collate the results of his long years of experience in a book. Although this plan was never carried out, in 1929 M. Michel Bouzy published Les Poissons, Coquillages et Crustacés, mainly selected from Prunier recipes, and this formed the basis of the first edition of the present work.
The French book was dedicated to my father's memory, and when a christening luncheon was given in its honour I was present as godmother and Maître Auguste Escoffier was godfather. The bill of fare is reproduced opposite.
At the christening of my own book in London, in 1938, the menu on this occasion was entirely made up of fish dishes, and for readers' interest is also given overleaf.
In conclusion I would like to stress that this book offers scope in its variety of dishes for cooks of all degrees of experience. For the beginner there are recipes of the utmost simplicity; for the cordon bleu there is something more elaborate; and the blasé will find the original and unusual. All are alike, however, in being extremely good to eat, and I hope that they may do their part in tempting my readers to take full advantage of the wealth of fish brought to these shores.
S. B. Prunier
72 St. James's Street, London, S.W. June 1955
Note to the original French edition
The products of the seas and rivers, by their qualities nod infinite variety, deserve an important place in the business of our nourishment, and they have always tempted the Inventive genius of cooks greedy for beautiful and savoury dishes.
There exist at the present time thousands of recipes for preparing fishes and shellfish from the sea. Many cooks and many housewives will be astonished by this, for only a few recipes are known to them, and except in certain coastal districts where special dishes have been born, our best hostesses usually have to choose between two or three recipes, of which they are already tired.
Up to the present time (1929) fish had been insufficiently understood, and its value almost unknown. Its cheapness when compared with meat offered a pretext for its nutritive properties being instinctively scorned. It has happened that the present crisis of the high cost of living has created new problems for solution, and it is thanks to these that the products of the sea have begun to take, during the last few years, the place they deserve. A campaign has been launched in honour of fish, and its nutritive and health-giving properties have been acclaimed by famous specialists on the subject. Besides all this, the actual processes of fishing and transport have assured every town good provision of fish, the variety and freshness of which leave nothing to be desired.
Introduction by the author of the original French edition
Great efforts have been made in France to increase the consumption of fish, especially by the working classes, and to further these efforts it has been thought advisable to popularize by books the innumerable fish recipes that exist.
Very few authors have specially treated this aspect of the culinary art. Those large treatises which are written for professionals devote only a chapter to it, as do those intended for the small kitchen. But the subject is so complex that it is impossible to describe in so small a space the more usual recipes for fish. Besides, these recipes follow the general law of progress; they are modified according to limes and tastes, and new ones are created which it is useful to make known.
In my position at the head of the kitchens of a restaurant which has gained an almost world-wide reputation, by the centralization in Paris of the best that comes from our seas and by its special dishes of fish and shellfish, assisted by lengthy practical experience, I have felt it my duty to collect in a book some of the recipes which are prepared daily in this restaurant, and many others as well; and I have written them down according to my own methods which I hope my professional colleagues and the housewives will appreciate. But above all it is on the advice of famous gastronomes and with the encouragement of celebrated chefs that I have undertaken this task; and it is almost under their guarantee of a favourable reception, of which I myself am confident, that the greatest of them all, the great Escoffier, has agreed to write the Preface.
Michel Bouzy, Chef des Cuisines de la Maison Prunier
Bouillabaisse à la Marseillaise
The Bouillabaisse of Marseilles is not a fish dish: it is a soup in every accepted meaning of the word. The fishes which have been used in its preparation have left all their flavour in the stock. It must be admitted that the gastronomical value of this soup rests in the variety of fishes, large and small, which have contributed to its preparation. In any case, if it is not possible to include in it all those enumerated below, there should be five or six kinds, not including the shellfish. For the characteristic flavour of the bouillabaisse is due to each of its ingredients, it is obvious that the more those ingredients are, the more authentic will that flavour be. Unfortunately, the fish which is the most prominent and most essential in the bouillabaisse is the Rascasse , a Mediterranean fish unknown on these shores. The fishes which should be included among these are: Rascasse, gurnet, weever (vive), John Dory, rock fish, conger, bass, whiting, small crawfish (langoustes) and Dublin Bay prawns. For twelve persons allow eight to ten pounds of fish and five pounds of shellfish.
METHOD: Put into a stew-pan two medium-sized onions and the whites of two leeks both chopped up; four skinned, pressed and chopped tomatoes; an ounce of crushed garlic, a dessertspoonful of roughly chopped parsley, a pinch of fennel, a bay leaf, a tiny pinch of saffron, the fish cut in pieces across; the langouste cut in sections across or the Dublin Bay prawns cut in half lengthwise, and four tablespoonfuls of olive-oil. The fishes with tender flesh, such as red mullet, bass, whiting, etc., should only be put in later. They should also be cut in slices across.
A quarter of an hour in advance cover the whole thing with boiling water. Salt and pepper it, and cook very rapidly (which will prevent the oil from keeping on the surface). After seven minutes add the tender-fleshed fish, and continue to cook for another eight minutes, still boiling rapidly.
Now pour the liquor of the bouillabaisse into a soup tureen containing thick slices of the special bread called "Navette" , in sufficient quantity to make the soup very thick after it has been absorbed by the bread. (It should be remembered here that the great cooks of Marseilles, of whom (Alex) Caillat is the accepted master, have declared that it is a mistake to toast or fry the slices of bread.) Turn into a shallow dish the pieces of fish, sprinkle them with a little chopped parsley, and surround them with the slices of langouste or the halved Dublin Bay prawns. Serve this fish at the same time as the soup.
Bouillabaisse à la Parisienne
For ten or twelve persons: eight pounds of fish, taken from among red mullet, gurnet, weevers, small congers, rock salmon, John Dory, very small turbot and a medium-sized crawfish (langouste) or lobster. Fry lightly in olive-oil two medium-sized onions and the white part of three leeks chopped up. Moisten with just over a quart of light fish fumet , and about a pint and a quarter of white wine. Add three large skinned, pressed and chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, a pinch of saffron, an ounce of crushed garlic and a bouquet garni. Bring to the boil, and boil for ten minutes. Add the firm-fleshed fish cut in slices across, and the crawfish (langouste) cut up in the same way. Six minutes after, add the tender-fleshed fish with a good dessertspoonful of roughly chopped parsley. Then let the whole thing boil as hard as it can for a quarter of an hour. At the end, bind the soup lightly with Kneaded Butter. Serve in a timbale or shallow dish the pieces of fish and langouste, surround them with mussels and other opened shellfish. At the same time, serve in a dish some slices of bread fried in olive-oil, and soaked in the liquor of the bouillabaisse.
Bouillabaisse du pays de Cornouailles (Cornish Bouillabaisse)
For ten to twelve people. Cut up in fairly thick rounds four or five leeks (the white part only), two pounds of medium-sized waxy potatoes, five tomatoes skinned and with their juice and pips removed, three hearts of celery cut in little quarters. Put all these into an earthenware stewpan with three and a half pints of water, salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and roughly chopped parsley. Cook for twenty-five minutes, and then add four pounds of fish, cleaned and cut in small slices across. These fish will have been chosen from among the following: red mullet, gurnet, whiting, mackerel, little turbot, small rock salmon or fresh tunny-fish. Cook then for a quarter of an hour. At the end of the cooking add to the bouillabaisse a binding of three egg-yolks and four tablespoonfuls of cream. Mix delicately. At the moment of serving, scatter over the soup three dessertspoonfuls of small breadcrumb dice which have been fried in foaming butter.
 Rascasse (Scorpaena scrofa) 'large-scaled scorpion fish', is the largest eastern Atlantic scorpion fish.
 Navette bread. The navette is a cylindrical sweet-pastry from Marseilles with a "fleur d'oranger" flavour. It's baked in the shape of a boat (navette), an oval 7-8 cm long with the ends tapered in sharply, and commemorates the arrival of St Lazarus and the two "Marys", Saint Mary Magdalene and Saint Martha, who arrived in Provence, at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, on the 2nd of February about 2000 years ago. The Four des Navettes, beside the Abbaye de Saint-Victor in the heart of Marseilles, has been baking the navette continuously since 1781. The peak of consumption occurs on the 2nd of February for the Fête de la Chandeleur (Candlemas procession). This is one of the rare biscuits made without yeast, and can be kept all year; it only needs to be warmed up before eating. There are three types available in Marseilles:
- "Navette â la fleur d'oranger" is the classic
- "Navette Marseillaise" skips the fleur d'oranger
- "Navette Provençale" has the fleur d'oranger, but is softer and doesn't keep as long
Recipe (for 1 kg dough): preparation, resting and cooking - 3½ hours.
- 500 g flour (farine)
- 250 g sugar (sucre)
- 75 g butter (beurre)
- 3 eggs (œuf)
- 1 zest lemon peel (zeste de citron - a single strip of peel from a lemon)
- 5 cl orange flower water (fleur d'oranger)
- 5 cl water (eau)
- 1 teaspoon milk (lait)
- 1 egg yolk (jaune d'œuf)
- Put the water and orange flower water together.
- Put the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl and grate in the lemon peel.
- Add the butter, 3 eggs and orange-water and and mix into a stiff dough.
- Set the dough in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Separate the dough into small balls about 50 g each.
- Roll each ball out to an oval, pinching the two ends down sharply.
- Put the ovals of dough on a buttered baking tin, and dent down the center of each, making the boat (navette) form.
- Set aside for 2 hours.
- Beat the egg yolk and milk together and paint it (dorer) onto the top of each navette.
- Cook in a medium oven.
 Fumet de Poisson (fish fumet - very strong fish stock) at page 15: For two quarts of fumet, put two pounds of chopped-up raw fish bones and trimmings in a battered pan with two ounces of minced onion, several parsley stalks and a dozen peppercorns. Let this stew for a while with the lid on, then add a quart of white wine and a little over two and a half pints of water. Add a pinch of salt and boil gently for twenty-five minutes. Then strain through a fine conical sieve, and keep for your use.
A Note on wine and Fish
If one were to be asked offhand what wines should be drunk with fish, I suppose the answer would be this:
With Caviar Nothing, or perhaps Vodka With Oysters Muscadet, Chablis, or a good White Burgundy such as Pouilly, Meursault, etc., or Champagne With Fish Soups A young Hock or Moselle, or a dryish White Burgundy, the choice depending on whether a white of red wine is to follow With Turtle Soup Punch (see page 255). An authority has rightly remarked that Madeira is better in the soup than with it With Lobsters and other Crustacés Chablis or White Burgundy, or if you are not following with a fine red wine, Champagne With Fish in general White French or German wines, dry or dryish. Some like Sauternes it nothing dryer is to follow
This list needs some qualifications. Let us begin at the beginning. Caviar speaks for itself. Its strong flavour naturally precludes any wine, which would be killed at once. If anything must be drunk (and this would not be at a serious meal), the Russian vodka is the only possible thing. With oysters, a real Chablis is the one and only wine, I think. Champagne mousseux is lost on them, but there is much to be said for a glass of the still Champagne, which has been coming into fashion again, with a dozen oysters, and if they are to be a meal in themselves a word must be said for stout! Some of the less dry French wines, like Anjou, are quite good with them, too. The advice given above for fish soups is a sound one, I think, for the days of a universal glass of Sherry with the soup should be a little vieux jeu nowadays, when our palates are so much more sophisticated. In the same way, lobster and the other crustacés should be treated in much the same way as the bisques of which they are composed, but everyone will agree that if the lobster is the clou of a meal such as an after-the-theatre supper, nothing could be better than Champagne, and plenty of it!
We now come to the whole question of drinking wine with the ordinary fish. In the first place, it is safe to say that it should always be white. There are a few cases where red wine may be drunk with fish, but only when the fish has been cooked in that wine. Red mullet lends itself particularly to red wine, and so to a certain extent does salmon. In Escoffier's Guide to Modern Cookery there will be found a section on Soles aux Grands Vins, where recipes are given for poaching soles in Volnay, Pommard, Romanée, Clos-de-Vougeot, and so on. But I do not think that these dishes, or the drinking of red wine with them, will appeal to us now. When we think of white wine with fish, we think according to our palates. Fifty or sixty years ago it used to be popular to drink Sauternes with fish, and there is an apocryphal story about King Edward VII which is difficult for us moderns to believe. A certain chef had prepared a wonderful fish dish for the King, and after the dinner was over was found to be in an ecstasy of delight. "But," they said, "the King never said anything about your dish at all!" "Didn't you hear?" asked the chef. "He said that his Château Yquem had never tasted so delicious. Was not that a tribute to my dish?" But then I have never been able to forgive King Edward for his liking salmon with curry! But this is told simply to show that not only a sweet wine like a Sauterne was drunk with this course, but even a liqueur-like wine of the type of Château Yquem, which nowadays no one would dream of drinking before the sweet.
So when I read here and there that the white wine accompanying fish should always be dry, I sometimes have my doubts. In the usual way I have what is called a dry palate: that is, I am inclined to prefer the dryer sorts of wine, but in the case of fish I find that just a little sweetness Is desirable or the wine may taste a little acid. But as I have said, this is a matter of taste, and the best way to discover your own palate is to try it out, preferably at Prunier's!
André Simon, in his Art of Good Living, makes the point that at an informal luncheon it would be as well to serve light wine, Graves or Anjou, with a simple dish, whereas if our meal is more elaborate we can go to the extent of a good Moselle or a Chablis, and for an even great occasion Champagne or a high-class Hock or White Burgundy, and there is of course sound common sense in this. If we suit our wines to our meals, we also suit our meals to our purses, and this is a wise way of doing it. There are a great many cheaper and very delicious French wines now to be found in the English market, and most of these can be tried at Prunier's. I have already mentioned still Champagne (Champagne nature); there are also Anjou, Vouvray, Sancerre and others which are not only excellent in themselves, but offer an original thought for the hostess planning a luncheon at home and wishing to give a wine which is a little out of the ordinary and impressive as well.
And I must just add a note here, that when I was writing of red wines I had quite forgotten a delicious bottle of vin rosé from Anjou which I drank not long ago with a trout cooked a little elaborately à la meunière. It was admirable! But then you cannot call vin rosé red wine, nor the divine trout an ordinary fish!
"A Housewife Cookery Book: Unusual and Inexpensive Fish Dishes" (1956) Rosemary Hume, Cordon Bleu School of Cookery
Unusual and inexpensive fish dishes specially written for Housewife by Rosemary Hume, principal of the Cordon Bleu School of Cookery produced in association with British Trawlers, Hull
A number of people do not seem to realise how many ways there are of cooking fish, nor perhaps that fish is so cheap and compares so favourably in food value with other main foods. This is especially true of the commoner kinds of fish, for example, cod and haddock. These fish are good value as a buy (cod in particular), for not only do they 'boil', bake and fry well, but they also make up admirably into excellent dishes which are tempting even to those who are not very fond of fish. There are many varieties of fish on the market at the present time that would add interest to our menus. The purpose of this booklet is to indicate some of these varieties and the way in which they can be prepared and cooked to make attractive dishes. All dishes are enough for a family of four. Presented with the August 1956 issue of Housewife the best monthly magazine for women, price 1s 9d.
Fried Cod 'Provençale', Fillets of Mackerel with Tomatoes 3 Cutlets of Fish Piemontaise, Fillets of Sole Meunière, Skate with 'Black' Butter (au beurre noir) 4 Spiced Fish, Fish Croquettes, Béchamel Sauce 5 Fried Fillets of Plaice, Haddock Mousse, Cutlets of Cod Dimitri 6 Baked Stuffed Haddock 7 Boiled Cod with Egg, Shrimp or Oyster Sauce, 'Court-Bouillon', Egg Sauce 8, 9 For Shrimp Sauce, For an Oyster Sauce, Creamed Fish with Lemon, Béchamel Sauce, Tunisian Fish Flan 10 Fillets of Sole Mornay, Orlys of Whiting 11 Kedgeree, Cod Flamande, Indian Fish 12 Fish Creams Margot 13 Herrings with Mustard, Principal ways of cooking fish, Boiling, Poaching, Frying 14
"Bass: How to Catch Them" (1957) Alan Young at pages 92 & 93
BASS are caught by inshore netsmen in the West of England and are occasionally to be bought from the fish stalls in Devon and Cornish ports. They are not handled by fish distributors and are practically unknown elsewhere except to anglers and their families. As a result, modern cookery books ignore these fish.
Bass had a great reputation among Roman epicures, and especially high prices were paid for those caught in the Tiber at the outfall of Rome's sewers! They have consistently been praised as an article of diet in all books dealing with such matters up to the time when modern fishing methods thrust bass into the background. They are still eagerly sought for in France, and Bar à l'Angevine is a noteworthy dish.
Bass can, of course, be treated by all the accepted cookery methods applicable to similar sea fish, but I append four specific recipes which I have tried personally.
Fried bass. School bass of from ½ to 1¼ lb. are best for frying. The backbone is removed, and the fish flattened, dipped in egg and bread-crumbs, and fried in shallow fat, preferably butter. The directions given in many cookery books for removing the backbone from a herring can be followed for small bass.
Baked bass. Bass of from 2 to 4 lb. are ideal for baking. Mustard sauce and a plentiful supply of onions (fried in deep fat) are traditionally served with this dish in France.
Bar à l'Angevine. Trim up a bass of from 3 to 4 lb. Make a stuffing of breadcrumbs, spinach purée, finely-chopped mushrooms, a little sorrel, a pinch of thyme and a beaten egg. Bake the stuffed bass. While this is cooking make a concentrated stock from the head and trimmings. Strain this, and to it add the liquid in the baking dish, cup white wine or dry cider, and I cup wine vinegar. Add finely-chopped chives and two tablespoonfuls of cream. Thicken over the stove with an egg yolk, and pour the mixture over the bass, returning the fish to the oven for the dressing to brown.
Bass Pie. An old Cornish recipe suggests filling a pie dish with trimmed bass cutlets with enough water to cover them, and such seasoning as the cook thinks fit. The whole is covered with pastry and baked. Cream was apparently eaten with this dish.
These recipes may be worth trying in households where bass are a commonplace, i.e. in the homes of successful bass anglers. When only an occasional bass appears there is no need for elaborate recipes. Cutlets dipped in seasoned flour and fried in shallow fat or fillets dipped in batter and fried in deep fat are likely to please everyone.
"The Modern Sea Angler" (1958) Hugh Stoker (1st edition) at pages 206 to 216
16. Cooking the catch
Just as the gardener is able to enjoy home-grown vegetables that are far superior to the shop-bought variety, so the salt-water angler has the benefit of knowing just how appetizing freshly-caught fish can be when properly cooked. There is, in fact, no comparison at all between the taste of fish cooked immediately after being taken from the sea, and those dull-eyed, flabby-fleshed things so often to be seen reposing on the fishmonger's slab.
Freshly caught sea fish can be made to tickle any palate, and from the nutritional point of view compares favourably with butcher's meat. For instance, fatty fish, such as mackerel, herring, and salmon, have been likened in their fat and protein content to pork flesh; whilst lean fish, like cod, haddock, pollack, hake, flounder, and bass, have their nutritional equivalent in beef steak. Indeed, in several respects fish is superior to meat, as it contains inorganic substances which are of the utmost value in maintaining human health - the most important being calcium, phosphorus, and iodine.
A pressure cooker is very useful for steaming fish, not only because it saves time and fuel, but because cooking under pressure retains the full flavour, and softens the smaller bones so that they may be eaten with the flesh. Apart from eliminating the tedious business of picking out the bones, this also enables one to absorb into the body the calcium phosphate, of which fish-bones are largely composed. As this assists in the formation of bones and teeth, it will be realized that the pressure cooking offish can add an important item to the diet of growing children.
Now for a few recipes specially designed for the sea angler's wife, who - poor soul! - is liable to be called upon to deal with anything from a seven feet long conger eel to a handful of white-bait. Here's hoping the next few pages will help to lighten her burden.
Baked. Clean a fair-sized bass and divide into cutlets. Place the cutlets in a greased pan, and sprinkle with a little pepper and salt. Chop up one shallot, 4 skinned tomatoes and 3 or 4 sprigs of parsley, and spread these over the cutlets, together with a small dab of butter or margarine on each. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes.
BIB OR BLIN
See under POUTING.
Grilled. After it has been cleaned, the fish should be scaled, washed and dried. Score the flesh on either side with a sharp knife and smear lightly with lard or olive oil. Wrap a sheet of greased paper about the fish and place under the grill until nicely browned. Large fish will need to be grilled more slowly than small ones. Note: On no account should bream be boiled.
As previously mentioned in this book, brill are very similar to turbot, and in the kitchen may be treated as such.
Cold, in salad. Skin and fillet the fish and sprinkle inside with pepper, salt and lemon juice. Fold the fillets lengthwise along the middle and lay them in a liberally greased baking dish. Gently pour in at the side of the dish a cupful of cold water and cover the pieces of fish with a sheet of greased paper. Cook in a moderate oven for a quarter of an hour, then remove the fish from the pan and place on a grid-iron to drain. When cool, serve the fillets in a bowl of salad, dressed with mayonnaise cream.
COALFISH AND POLLACK
Both these fish belong to the cod tribe, and so far as the larger specimens are concerned may be treated as such when being cooked. However, many smaller fish of ¾ lb and upwards will be caught by the harbour-wall angler, and these are best fried after being cleaned, split in two down the middle and filleted. The halves should be rolled in flour, sprinkled with salt and grated nutmeg and fried in a pan until both sides are golden brown. Serve with tomato ketchup.
COD AND CODLING
Baked Cod Steak. Take a middle cut from the cod, this being the best part of the fish for baking. Wash the fish and remove the fins, afterwards tying into shape if necessary. Place the steak in a well-greased tin and spread over the top a mixture comprising the following ingredients: 2 oz. of butter or margarine, 1 eggspoonful of dried herbs, 1 dessertspoonful of chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Afterwards add a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place a sheet of buttered paper over the steak and cook in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Serve with anchovy sauce.
Stuffed Cod. After cleaning and washing the fish, leave it to soak in a bowl of well-salted water for an hour. Then dry the fish and stuff it with the following mixture: ½ lb. of oatmeal, 2 finely chopped onions, 2 oz. of dripping, seasoning, and ½ pint of milk. Place the cod in a fireproof dish, and either pour another ½ pint of milk over it or cover it liberally with dripping. Place in a slow oven and bake for 1 hour, basting at frequent intervals. Carry to the table in the dish in which it was cooked. Serve with white sauce; the sauce containing, for preference, a quantity of boiled and shelled prawns, chopped up fine.
Fried Cod. The tail-end of a cod is generally fried, as this part of the fish does not take kindly to boiling. Except that it is often cooked in the form of cutlets, the recipe for fried cod is the same as that found under COALFISH and POLLACK.
Baked. Skin and clean the fish as soon as it is dead, and cut slices from the middle - this being the best part of the eel. Break the slices into pieces about the size of an egg, dredge in flour seasoned with pepper and salt. Place the pieces of fish, in layers, in a greased baking dish with chopped parsley, sliced hard-boiled egg, and a few dabs of butter or margarine between each layer. When the baking dish has been filled in this way, pour in sufficient milk to half-fill the dish, and then sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake in a moderate oven until tender.
Fried Conger Eel. Larger conger eels are best fried, the method being to take cutlets from the fish, dip them in beaten egg and breadcrumbs and fry in a pan until nicely browned on both sides.
Note. Owing to their length, conger eels require special care when cleaning.
Fried. Dredge with flour seasoned with pepper and salt; dip in beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs, and fry until golden brown. Garnish with parsley and sliced lemon. Alternatively, skin the dabs, dip in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, and fry in butter. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Fried. Clean the fish some two hours before they are required, and rub with salt all over, inside and out, to make them firm. Wash off salt before cooking and dry thoroughly. Then fry by the methods suggested above for DABS.
Fried. Clean the fish and remove heads, tails and bones; then cut their long, eel-like bodies into convenient lengths. Dip the fillets in flour and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Fry slowly in a pan until lightly browned. Serve with lemon juice or tomato ketchup.
Fried. Small and medium-sized gurnards may be filleted, dredged in flour, dipped in well-beaten egg, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried.
Baked. Larger gurnards are excellent when baked. Clean and wash the fish, and slit down the back to allow the heat to penetrate when cooking. Prepare a stuffing by chopping up two medium-sized shallots, a rasher of bacon and a dessert-spoonful of parsley, and mixing well with a cupful of breadcrumbs, the grated rind of a lemon, a liberal pinch of mixed herbs, a dessertspoonful of Worcester Sauce, a beaten egg, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Force this into the belly of the fish and sew up the body with needle and thread; at the same time trussing the fish with the thread so that the tail is held in the mouth. Place the fish in a fireproof dish and add ½ pint of water and another dessertspoonful of Worcester Sauce. Smear the fish with 1 oz. of butter or margarine, then chop up two more shallots and sprinkle the pieces over the fish. Spread a sheet of greaseproof paper over the fish and bake in a quick oven for 20 or 30 minutes, according to size, basting it at frequent intervals. At the final basting add a teaspoonful of Bisto to the liquor in the dish. Serve the fish in the dish in which it was cooked, using the liquor as a sauce.
Fried. Fillet the haddock and wash each piece in salty water. Thoroughly dry the fillets with a cloth and brush them over with well-beaten egg, then dip them in breadcrumbs. Fry until golden-brown. A few drops of lemon juice on each fillet will be to most people's taste.
Haddock Soufflé. Boil a large, freshly-caught haddock; afterwards removing the skin and bones. Pound up the flesh with a little melted butter or margarine, and pass it through a sieve into a basin. Mix in three egg yolks; then whisk up the whites to a stiff froth and stir in separately. Spoon the mixture into a soufflé dish or small china cups, and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes.
Baked Cutlets. Divide a small hake into cutlets and place in a casserole, pouring over the top a liberal quantity of well-salted parsley sauce. Place the lid on the casserole and bake in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes. Serve in the casserole.
Fried Steaks. Wash and dry some halibut steaks; dredge thoroughly with a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper; brush with beaten egg; dip in breadcrumbs, and fry in deep fat.
Grilled Steaks. Wash and dry some halibut steaks; sprinkle with pepper and salt, and smear with good olive oil or butter. Grease the bars of the grid-iron to prevent the fish adhering, and grill gently for about 10 minutes, turning the steaks several times during the process.
Baked. Wash and dry some halibut steaks and lay them in a baking dish. Sprinkle with pepper, salt, and the juice of half a lemon; then place a dab of butter on top of each piece of fish. Cover with greased paper and cook in a hot oven (450° F.) for 20 minutes. Serve with anchovy or parsley sauce mixed with the liquor from the fish.
Soused. Scale, clean, and bone six herrings, removing heads and tails. Sprinkle the opened out fish with pepper, salt, and finely chopped onion; then roll them up, skin side outermost, and place in a fireproof dish. Cover them with equal parts of water and vinegar, and add a few cloves and peppercorns. Bake for half an hour in a moderate oven (400° F.). Serve cold, allowing the fish to cool in the liquor. Fried. Scale, clean and dry the fish, and nick the flesh with a sharp knife in several places on either side. Sprinkle with pepper, salt, and flour; then cover with beaten egg and dip in breadcrumbs - treating the roes in similar fashion. Fry roes and fish together in a frying pan.
These fish deteriorate very rapidly after being caught, and should therefore be cleaned as soon as they are brought home. In any event, it is unwise to eat mackerel after they have been out of the sea for more than 24 hours. When eaten fresh, however, they are most wholesome and appetizing.
Fried. Clean the mackerel, but do not wash them. Remove their heads and tails, and fillet by cutting down the belly. Dip in flour and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Fry slowly in a frying-pan until lightly browned. Serve with tomato ketchup.
Baked. Clean the mackerel and remove their heads and tails. Fillet by splitting the fish down the belly, then lay in a greased fireproof dish and season with pepper, salt, and a pinch of mixed herbs. Add small dabs of butter or margarine on each fish, and pour in a gill of fresh milk at the side of the dish. Cover with greased paper and cook for 25 minutes in a fast oven.
Soused. Clean the fish, removing their heads, tails and backbone. Place them in a large fireproof dish and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Cover with equal quantities of water and vinegar, and add a few cloves and peppercorns, together with one small shallot, sliced up, to every fish. Place in a slow oven and cook for 35 minutes; then allow the fish to cool in the liquor. Serve with cold beetroot and lettuce.
Grilled. Clean the fish, slit them down the middle, and remove heads, tails, and bones. Fold the fish up again, and tie in position with thread. Wrap each fish separately in greaseproof paper smeared with butter, margarine, or good olive oil, and cook on both sides under the grill. When done, remove the paper, cut the thread, and place inside each fish a small pat of butter or margarine blended with a little mixed herbs. Serve at once with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Note. During the mackerel season it is a good idea to save the pieces of greaseproof paper in which butter and margarine are purchased from the grocer. These already have a certain amount of fat adhering to them, and require no further greasing. Do not use waxed paper, so often referred to in error as grease-proof paper.
It is important to grill the fish gently, otherwise they will tend to unfold, even though tied in place with thread.
Grilled. Scale, clean and dry the fish, afterwards replacing the liver. Lightly score the flesh once or twice along either side. Place on a dish; season with pepper and salt, and smear liberally all over with olive oil in which has been placed a pinch of mixed herbs and some chopped onion. Leave the fish to drain on the dish; allowing plenty of time for the oil and seasoning to be absorbed by the fish. After about an hour, transfer to a well-greased gridiron and cook under the grill, turning the fish two or three times during the process.
Baked. To cook a mullet to perfection it should be baked. Prepare the fish as for the previous recipe, then wrap it in greaseproof paper smeared with butter or olive oil. Cook in a moderate oven for half an hour, and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Note: Mullet should never be boiled.
See under GARFISH.
Fried. Clean and fillet the fish, and dip the pieces in flour seasoned with pepper and salt. Then brush them with egg, and cover with breadcrumbs. Fry until golden brown. Serve with chipped potatoes and a slice of lemon.
Alternatively, instead of treating the fillets with egg and breadcrumbs, they can be dipped into a thick flour and water batter before frying.
See under COALFISH.
Pouting in Cider. Fair-sized pouting are caught around the West Country coasts - a district famous also for its draught cider. Anglers living in those parts who declare that pouting make uninteresting eating should try cooking these fish in a little rough cider, to which have been added some chopped up shallot and mushrooms, and a pinch of mixed herbs. The fish should be filleted and placed with the vegetables and cider in a fireproof dish, then covered with greased paper and cooked in a moderately hot oven for about 20 minutes.
Grilled. Clean, split and bone the fish; sprinkle inside with pepper and salt and smear thoroughly on both sides with olive oil or melted butter. As these fish contain little natural fat they should be cooked very slowly to prevent the flesh from burning.
Boiled. Cut Off the 'wings' of the skate, which - apart from the liver - are the only portions of the fish suitable for cooking. Remove the coarse skin by immersing the wings for about 30 seconds in scalding water, afterwards rubbing gently with a cloth. Divide the wings into convenient-sized portions. Roll up these pieces and tie into position with thread; then place in a saucepan of salty water and simmer gently for half an hour. Drain, remove the thread, and serve with melted butter and, if available, chopped up prawns sprinkled over the top.
Fried. Skin the wings of a skate in the manner described above. Small skate are best for frying, and the wings of larger fish should be divided up and partly boiled for about 4 or 5 minutes, according to thickness. When this has been done, place the portions of wing on a gridiron until thoroughly dry, then cover them with beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Fry in plenty of fat.
As mentioned in an earlier chapter, these fish are rarely caught by the longshore angler, which is a pity as they make excellent eating. Lemon soles, which are similar to dabs, should not be confused with the genuine sole, which is a superior fish altogether.
Baked. Skin, clean, and remove the head, tail, and fins of the fish. Score it with a knife and lay it in a well-greased baking-dish. Sprinkle with pepper and salt, a few splashes of tomato sauce, chopped-up parsley, and fresh breadcrumbs. Place a few small pats of butter or margarine on top of the fish, and then cook for 20 or 30 minutes, according to size. Serve in the dish in which it was cooked.
Grilled. Skin, clean, and remove the head, tail, and fins of the sole. Score lightly with a sharp knife, and leave for an hour or more in a shallow covered dish containing olive oil, a little vinegar and several slices of onion. Turn the fish once during this period, so that both sides make contact with the oil. Remove from the dish, allow the surplus oil to drain off, but do not wipe it off. Place under the grill and cook slowly. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.
These tasty morsels never form part of the angler's catch, but they merit some mention because during the 'spratting season' they may often be bought very cheaply down by the harbour. Also, it is not unusual for shoals of sprats, when chased by bass or mackerel, to become stranded in their hundreds on the beach at the angler's feet. They may be cooked in the same way as WHITEBAIT.
These large fish are usually caught solely for the sport they provide, and are seldom eaten. Actually the flesh is quite wholesome; though its rather strong flavour is not to everyone's taste. Try it in the form of steaks, fried in the manner suggested for cod.
TUNNY or TUNA
Like the tope, just mentioned, tunny are hunted for the sport they provide. When caught they are often wasted; the average person apparently believing that the flesh of so large a fish is bound to be tough. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, and grilled tunny steaks are extremely tooth-some.
Baked. Cut the fish into fillets and lay them in a baking-dish. Sprinkle with pepper, salt, and the juice of half a lemon, and then place a dab of butter on top of each piece of fish. Cover with greased paper and cook in a hot oven (450° F.) for 20 minutes. Serve with anchovy or parsley sauce mixed with the liquor from the fish.
These small fry of the herring, although not caught by the angler, are often hauled ashore on to West Country beaches in the mackerel seines, and people who happen to be on the spot at the time can generally help themselves to as many as they want before the tiny fish are thrown back into the water. They should be eaten within a few hours of being taken from the sea.
To prepare whitebait, first wash them whole in fresh water and then thoroughly dry them in a clean cloth. Next cover a sheet of paper with flour and gently toss the fish about in this until well coated with flour. For best results they should be fried a few at a time, in a wire basket immersed in smoking hot fat. Turn the fish out on to absorbent paper, then transfer them to heated plates and serve with sliced lemon.
Fried. Kin and clean the fish, and wipe them dry with a cloth. Dust them with flour, then dip in beaten egg and breadcrumbs. If plenty of fat is available, the fish should be curled up, tail in mouth and fried in a wire basket in deep fat. If this is not possible, fry flat in a large frying-pan, using as much fat as possible.
Baked. Whiting are caught by the longshore fishermen in autumn - the mushroom season - so here is a recipe which makes use of both these delicacies. Clean and fillet the fish, and remove their heads an tails. Place in a buttered fireproof dish with a little cider, several small peeled mushrooms and a sliced shallot. Cover with a sheet of greased paper and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes or more, according to the size of the fish. Transfer the fish and warmed vegetables to a warmed dish, and quickly concentrate the liquor by pouring it into a small saucepan, stirring in a little creamed-up flour and butter, mixed in equal proportions by weight, and boiling rapidly. Pour the concentrated liquor over the fish and mushrooms, and serve with mashed potatoes.
These fish are not really suitable for the table, but they are often caught by youthful anglers who expect them to be cooked and eaten by the family. Frying them with tomatoes and sliced onions is perhaps the best way of turning wrasse into a reasonably palatable dish.
The Church Times, Friday 7 April 1961 at page 5
Fish out of Favour by Urbanus
Do you imagine there is a great falling off in the fishmonger’s trade in our land once Lent is behind us? Certainly, no Londoner or visitor among us on Good Friday could have passed unregarding the long queues which moved forward in very slow motion to the fishmonger’s counter. Could there be so many Catholic-minded neighbours about us, or were the seekers after fish merely impelled by tradition?
The answer may not be complicated by any distaste for fish, such as prompted Erasmus's famous mot, "My heart is Catholic, but my stomach Lutheran" - more likely it lies in a great and increasing liking for fish. Thus Good Friday, so far from being a day for penitential fare, became a delicious Easter fish-feast. In the light of the abounding appetite for fish, it is odd that so few kinds are normally to be had. Even the best restaurants seem to ring the changes on half-a-dozen.
As for the fresh-water fish whose praises are in The Compleat Angler, they are virtually unknown. How many English gourmets, I wonder, have so much as tasted carp, which Izaak rated the queen of river fish, "stately, good and very subtil"; chub, which he likened to cherries newly gathered from a tree; perch, "so wholesome that physicians allow him to bc eaten by wounded men"; or pike, which he commends to the choicest palates?
Sturgeon, once esteemed above all other fish, was said by Grimond de la Reyniere, the eighteenth-century wit and gastronome who claimed to know 685 ways of dressing eggs, to be the commonest cause of death among princes of the Church - such was their addiction to it. Among Churchmen in the Religious houses the art of dressing. cooking and serving fish was so wonderfully perfected that it drew from St. Bernard his strictures on the monks of Cluny for the excessive delicacy of their fish diet.
The secrets of the monastic cooks have, alas! perished with them, though one most precious has been preserved. It is said to have been treasured by the last Abbess of Bons for cooking crayfish, overmuch indulgence in which was among the scandals which gave Cardinal de Richelieu a pretext for expelling the nuns from their convent. The recipe passed into the keeping of Madame de Loiseau, and was printed in what I take to be a slightly modernised version in Elizabeth Lucas's A Pretty Kettle of Fish about twenty-five years ago.
Now, crayfish is beginning to reappear on bills of fare. It vanished from many rivers quite unaccountably, but was until recently, and perhaps still is, to be taken within walking distance of Shoreditch Church in waters fished by Walton before, as he says, "we stretched our legs up Tottenham Hill" - or if not, strictly speaking, in the waters, which is a night operation, then in bankside crevices wherein the creature takes its ease by day.
Between the few expensive London restaurants renowned for their fish dishes and the fish-and-chip shop in the back street there are few, if any, eating places in which the customer is encouraged to order fish as a main course. That has nothing to do with vague ideas of fasting or abstinence. It is, I suspect, because, except for the breakfast kipper, fish dishes have dropped out of the English tradition. They cannot compete with steak and kidney pudding, boiled silverside and carrots, roast beef and Yorkshire and the other standing dishes of solid merit. A conventional middle-class couple would feel that they had not had a proper restaurant meal if they went away without tasting meat, game or poultry.
Even on Fridays, in a sophisticated restaurant, you would be lucky to hit on such an excellent dish as bouillabaise. Nor are mussels, though cheap and plentiful, to be met with in other guise, except occasionally à la marinière.
"The Compleat Angler's Wife: A complete guide to cooking the angler's catch" (1964) Suzanne Mollie Beedell
Introduction at page 9
"Fish Dinners will make a man spring like a flea." Thomas Jordan
There are 30,000 species of true fish to be found in the waters of the earth, and fish are a very important item of diet everywhere. This book is concerned with the cooking of the fish which can be caught in the seas and rivers and lakes of our own islands, and the crabs and lobsters, cockles and other shellfish which can be caught in the rocks and mudflats around our coasts.
From the fighting salmon and trout, caught with expensive tackle and much skill, in water costing £1,000 a mile, to the little tench pulled out of a flooded gravel pit more by luck than judgement by a ten-year-old boy, there isn't a fish that cannot be made delicious or disgusting by the way it is cooked. It is up to us, fishing wives and fishing mothers, to know how to cope with the piscatorial offerings of our menfolk. Although the greater part of the pleasure for them is in the catching, and although nowadays most coarse fish are weighed and measured and put back, and only the occasional foul hooked specimen is brought home, the edibility of the catch does justify the time and money spent! Well-cooked fish can be a "gastronomic experience".
"Sometimes I have seen slovenly scullions abuse good fish most grossly." Thomas Barker, 1657
How to Prepare Fish at page 11
Fish for cooking must always be fresh, but this should be no problem for the fisherman's wife.
CLEANING FISH: Flat fish are cleaned by cutting out the gills, then making a small incision in the stomach, just behind the head, and pulling out the gut. Wash the fish well and, if required, remove the head with a semi-circular cut.
Round fish are cleaned by slitting the stomach from the head towards the tail, and removing the entrails. Wash well and remove the head with a straight cut if required.
SCALING FISH: With the back of the knife, or with a blunt knife, scrape off the scale, working from tail to head.
WASHING FISH: Always wash fish out with cold, strongly salted water, and never soak fish in unsalted water.
SKINNING FISH: Sole should be washed and dried and the fins removed. With the tail facing you cut the skin across just above the tail. Dip your fingers in salt which will help you to grip; then, holding the tail with one hand and the skin with the other, pull the skin hard and quickly towards the head. Other flat fish are skinned after filleting. Lay the fillet down and cut through the flesh only, at the tail end, then work the knife up towards the head, pulling the fillet towards you as you cut.
SPLITTING FISH: Having slit the fish and cleaned it, and removed any roe, place on a board cut side down. Then press the fish firmly down with your hand all along the backbone. This will then come away from the flesh easily.
FILLETING FISH: Flat fish are filleted thus: Lay the fish on a board and with a sharp pointed knife cut each side of the backbone from head to tail, down to the bone. Start with the left-hand top fillet, and keeping the knife oblique slide it through resting on the bone, taking three or four strokes from head to tail. Pull the fillet off, turn the fish round and repeat, working from tail to head. Turn the fish over and repeat the operation, producing in all four fillets.
Round fish are filleted by placing on a board with the head away from you. With the sharp pointed knife, slit the fish from head to tail, down the backbone. Cut the fillet at the head, and remove. Repeat on the other side, producing in all two fillets.
TRUSSING FISH: Whiting are skinned and the tail is drawn through the mouth. In the fish thus by passing a skewer
"Good cooks and good fish seldom dwell together." FRANCK
Cooking Methods at page 13
Any of the following methods may be adapted for your particular purpose.
POACHING: If you have a fish kettle it is perfect for poaching fish, but fish can be poached in the oven in a fireproof dish. A fish kettle has a perforated plate in the bottom on which the fish rests and with which it can be lifted out and drained without damage. If you have no fish kettle, whole fish can be handled gently and safely by placing a saucer in the bottom of your stewpan and laying a clean cloth on top with the ends hanging out, making a kind of hammock in which the fish can he slung and lifted out when done.
When cooking trout or salmon a court bouillon (see page 15) is usually prepared first and, when cool, is poured over the fish already in the kettle or pan, never more than just covering the fish. The kettle is placed on a low flame and gradually brought up to simmering point, and cooking is carried out very carefully and quietly Indeed. If the fish is to be served cold, let it cool in the kettle before draining.
Coarse-fleshed fish cooked in this way (cod, bream, turbot, etc.) should be placed in just boiling court bouillon. This seals the fish at once and keeps in the flavour.
Times for poaching vary with the fish, but fish is done when it goes opaque and exudes a creamy liquid.
When using a fireproof dish for poaching the dish is well buttered and the fish laid in it just covered with court bouillon, and then covered with buttered greaseproof, or with aluminium foil, or its own lid.
FRYING FISH: Deep frying is best done in a proper fish fryer with a wire basket, using pure lard. Shallow frying is best done in an ordinary frying pan, in oil or butter. Fish for frying is always coated in some way; either with seasoned flour, batter, or egg and oil and white breadcrumbs. The cleaned, washed, and dried fish should be seasoned with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice, and then dipped in the coating. Test deep fat by dropping in a small piece of bread; if the bread immediately goes crisp and golden the fat is hot enough. If there is no bubbling, heat the fat some more.
Egg and breadcrumb coating is done successfully by beating up egg lightly with a tablespoonful of oil, and seasoning. Put this mixture into a shallow dish and dip the fish into it. Make breadcrumbs by passing stale bread through a coarse sieve. Dip the fish coated with egg mixture into the breadcrumbs, or press the crumbs on with a flat knife. Don't have the fish too wet with egg, nor leave it to soak in the egg; and shake off surplus crumbs before frying.
Fish fried in shallow fat is usually just dipped in seasoned flour. A teaspoonful of curry powder added to the flour will give an unusual taste.
Batter is best made by putting 4 oz. flour, ¼ oz. teaspoonful of salt, and an egg into a bowl, and mixing it to a smooth batter with about ¼ pint of milk or water. The fish is dipped into this and dropped immediately into hot fat, without a frying basket.
Some fish such as herrings, mackerel, and sprats, which are naturally oily, are dry fried, by being cooked gently in a frying pan without adding extra fat.
STEAMED FISH: Wrap the fish in greaseproof paper after sprinkling it with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Place it in a steamer and cook for 20 minutes to each pound, and 20 minutes extra for large fish.
GRILLING FISH: Thick fish should be scored before grilling, and mackerel and herring split open and grilled open side first. Always preheat the grill and brush over both fish and grill with melted butter before cooking.
BAKING FISH: Fish should be baked in a fireproof dish with knobs of butter on the fish, according to the various recipes.
Court bouillon should always be prepared before fish is cooked. To add the ingredients to the water in which your fish is cooking does not have the same effect at all.
- Equal parts of water and white wine.
- 1 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 carrot
- Small piece of celery
- Salt and peppercorns
- A bouquet garni
- 2 shallots
- 1 clove
The water and wine are brought to the boil, and a table spoonful of vinegar is added to every quart of water. Add all the other ingredients and simmer for an hour.
Court bouillon can be made with the wine omitted.
After using, the court bouillon is often used as the basis of a sauce, or it makes very good fish soup. For this purpose it should be strained, and reheated with the addition of macaroni, spaghetti, or vermicelli, and some grated cheese added just before serving.
The Angler at page 17
"He at the least hath his wholesome walk and merry at his ease, a sweet air of the sweet savour of the mead flowers; that maketh him hungry. He heareth the melodious harmony of fowls. He seeth the young swans, herons, ducks, coots, and many other fowl with their broods; which me seemeth better than all the noise of hounds, the blasts of horns, and the cry of fowls; than hunters, falconers, and fowlers can make. And if the angler take fish, surely then there is no man merrier than he in his spirit. Also, whoso will use the game of Angling, he must rise early, which thing is profitable to man in this wise, that is to wit, most to the heal of his soul. For it shall cause him to be holy; and to the heal of his body for it shall cause him to be whole. Also to the increase of his goods, for it shall make him rich."
"Remember that the Wit and Invention of Mankind were bestowed for other Purposes than to deceive silly Fish: and that however delightful Angling may be, it ceases to be innocent when used otherwise than as a mere recreation." "The Art of Angling", Richard Brooks (1766)
The Sea Fisher (at page 70)
"First of all the fisher should have body and limbs both swift and strong, neither over fat nor lacking in flesh. For often he must fight with mighty fish in landing them, which have exceeding strength so long as they circle and wheel in the arms of their mother the sea.
… Cunning of wit too, and wise should the fisher be, since many and various are the devices that fishes contrive, when they chance upon unthought-of snares. Daring also should he be and dauntless and temperate, and he must not love satiety of sleep, but must be keen of sight, wakeful of heart, and open eyed. He must bear well the wintry weather and the thirsty season of Sirius: he must be fond of labour, and he must love the sea. So shall he be successful in his fishing and dear to Hermes." "Halieutica", Book 3, at page 349, Oppian
Editor's note: Oppian's poem on fishing, the Halieutica, comprises some 3,500 lines and is still extant. It bears a dedication to Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus, placing it to the time of their joint rule (177 - 180 AD).
Red Mullet at page 93
"The Mullet, when encircling seines inclose,
The fatal threads and treacherous bosoms knows.
Instant he rallies all his vigorous powers
And faithful aid of every nerve implores:
O'er battlements of cork up-darting flies,
And finds from air the escape that sea denies.
But should the first attempt his hope deceive
And fatal space the imprisoned fall receive,
Exhausted strength no second leap supplies -
Self doomed to death, the prostrate victim lies;
Resigned, with painful expectation waits,
Till thinner elements complete his fates."
Oppian, as translated by William Diaper and John Jones (1722)
"Mullets were often brought alive in glass vases to table, and a barbarous pleasure was derived from witnessing the changes of colour they underwent in expiring. Apicius invented a mode of suffocating the Mullet in a kind of pickle, and Seneca endeavoured to put an end to these practices, disgraceful to a people who stood foremost in ancient civilisation."
The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, Volume VI, 2nd December 1837 at pages 465 and 466
Chapter Six at page 106
Fish and Chips
You can fry many fishes, either in steaks or in fillets, dipped in batter, and serve them with potato chips and call it fish and chips: but I am quite unable to give you a recipe which will reproduce the exact and magnificent flavour which is "Fish and Chips". Is it the deep frying oil used again and again until it has a flavour all its own ? Or is it the flavour of printer's ink from the news-wrapping-paper ? Or - what is it ?
This most delectable English dish has replaced roast beef, or boiled beef and carrots, as our national dish. It needs no seasoning but salt and vinegar, and the drink that goes best with it is a cup of tea!
- 1 lb. white fish cooked in court bouillon
- 1 lb. mashed potatoes
- ½ pint parsley sauce
- grated lemon rind
- browned breadcrumbs
Flake the fish and mix it with the sauce and seasoning. Place in a greased pie dish and cover with potatoes and dot with butter. Sprinkle crumbs over and bake for 20 minutes in a fairly fast oven.
This is a basic recipe for fish pie, but it can be improved by various additions. Hardboiled egg chopped and added to the parsley sauce. Anchovy sauce added to the white sauce instead of parsley. A tablespoonful of white wine poured over the fish before putting on the potatoes. Or flaky pastry substituted for potatoes.
Herring Roe Puffs
- Rough puff pastry
- Herring roe stuffing (see page 72)
Cut the pastry into strips about ½ inch thick, spread roe stuffing on to half the strips and cover with the other half. Place on a baking tray, brush with egg and cook for 15 minutes.
Boiled Cod's Roe
- 4 oz. roe per person
- 1 dessertspoonful vinegar
- Warm salted water
Wash the roe and tie it in a muslin bag. Place in warm salted water and add the vinegar. Cook till tender, for about three-quarters of an hour. Drain and serve on toast with lemon parsley butter (see Chapter 7)
Devilled Soft Herring Roes
- Hot toast
- Made mustard
- Salt and pepper
- Herring roes
Place two tablespoonfuls of butter in a small pan by the side of the stove, add half a teaspoonful of mustard and the salt and pepper. Melt the butter and add the roes. Simmer gently until the butter be absorbed by the roes. Serve on hot buttered toast, sprinkling with parsley.
"GUIDE TO GOOD FOOD AND WINES" ANDRÉ SIMON Collins
Herring Roe Savoury
- hard roe
- 2 oz. butter
- 1 soft roe
- ½ teaspoonful salt
- ½ teaspoonful cayenne
- ½ glass white wine
- ½ teaspoonful curry powder
- Chopped parsley
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook together for 10 minutes, slowly. Then blend thoroughly, if possible in an electric liquidiser. Allow to cool, and serve as a spread, or on biscuits, or in small pastry cases. Wonderful for cocktail parties.
Fritters of Herring Roes
Simmer either soft or hard roes in salted water for 10 minutes. Dry well, then dip in batter and fry in deep fat. Serve with fried parsley and slices of lemon.
"GUIDE TO GOOD FOOD AND WINES" ANDRÉ SIMON Collins
Freshwater Bouillabaisse at page 108
I think the first and most important fact about a freshwater bouillabaisse is the more the merrier. The more mixed the bag, the more intriguing the final flavour. Do not include bream or chub, however, unless desperately pressed: the former is mainly slime, the latter mainly bones. But most general sorts of fish may be chucked in. I rate perch and gudgeon at the top - tastier than trout - and you can also add roach, rudd, and dace. Pike are an excellent ingredient, and eels are admirable. To my mind, the perfect ingredients for this dish are perch, gudgeon, pike, and eel (but some connoisseurs dote on carp).
Clean and cut up the fish. You want about a couple of pounds for a decent meal. Cut about half this into small bits, the rest into larger chunks. For the trimmings you'll want a couple of good sized onions, four tomatoes, as much garlic as you can stand, a bay leaf, a pinch of saffron, parsley and fennel, and olive oil.
Slice the onions, peel and pulp the tomatoes. Put the larger, firmer lumps of fish into a pan, and all the vegetable trimmings, and pour in just enough oil to cover the fish. Then pour boiling water over the whole lot and cook fast and furiously for 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, and when the mixture has dropped below boiling point, add a generous glass, maybe two, of white wine, and the softer, smaller pieces of fish. Boil the lot for 7 minutes more.
Pour off the liquid into soup bowls, with croûtons of fried bread, or pieces of toast. Put the fish flesh into a dish and garnish with the parsley. Serve both at once, the liquid and the flesh, and let joy be unrestrained. Should be consumed with white wine, or stout. The cook, especially, needs a drink, for, as the poet so justly observed,
A freshwater bouillabaisse
Even if you can't spell it
You can smell it.
Maurice Wiggin's favourite fish recipe.
Risotto Aux Fruits de Mer
- 3 or 4 scallops
- 1 teaspoonful oil
- 1 pint mussels
- Pinch of saffron
- 2 or 3 oz. shelled shrimps
- Bouquet garni
- 2 oz. blanched almonds
- 1 cup Patna rice
- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 cup white stock
- 1½ gills dry white wine
- 2 oz. butter
- Garnish 2 hardboiled eggs quartered. Green and black olives, pinch of paprika
Wash the scallops well, then poach them in the wine, with the bouquet garni, seasoning, and a slice of onion. Cook 4 or 5 minutes. Draw aside and allow to cool in the liquor. Wash the mussels in several waters and remove their beards. Place them in a large pan, cover well. Shake it over a good heat until all are open. Strain off the liquor and keep it. Remove all but half a dozen of the mussels from their shells, leaving the remaining ones in their shells for the garnish. Keep them hot by standing them in a colander over hot water. Melt the butter and oil in a fairly large, strong pan. Add to it the rest of the onion finely chopped, and soften it without coloration. Then add the rice and stir it quickly until it is coated with butter. Heat the stock, add to it the liquor from the mussels and scallops making it up to rather less than three cupfuls. Stir in the saffron and pour this on the rice. Now add the scallops roughly chopped, and the mussels and shrimps, and almonds. Mix and season well. Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper and the lid and cook in a moderate oven until the rice is done, without disturbing the rice.
Stone the olives. When the rice is cooked place in a hot dish to which has been added a spoonful of oil (hot) and rough it up with a fork. Decorate the dish with the eggs, olives, and remaining mussels. Dust with paprika.
Other fish such as oysters, crayfish, or crabs can be added if liked.
"THE IRIS SYRETT COOKERY BOOK" Faber
Is a fish soup or puree made with any shellfish.
Cook the lobster, or whatever you are using, in white wine court bouillon. When cooked remove from the stove and add a wineglassful of sherry, and leave overnight with the lobster in the liquid. Add 1 lb. of fresh tomatoes and reheat, cooking until tomatoes are soft. Allow to cool again, and then remove the lobster and pound all edible parts and the shell of the body and big claws in a mortar. Then pass this through a fine sieve, and discard what will not go through, putting the sieved fish back into the court bouillon and simmer very gently for 2 hours. Then allow to cool from boiling point and add two beaten egg yolks, a little fresh cream, sherry or brandy to taste, and serve. Season with cayenne pepper and salt. Pass tomatoes through the sieve back into the liquid. The soup can be thickened with a roux made of flour and butter if wished, instead of the yolk of egg.
Can be made with carp, bream, haddock, or mackerel.
- 3 lb. fish
- Salt, pepper
- 2 large onions
- 2 slices white bread soaked and squeezed
- 2 eggs
- 1 large sliced carrot
- 2 stalks celery
Skin and bone the fish, keeping the skin intact to use as wrappings. Chop the fish finely, add 1 grated onion, the eggs, salt, pepper, and soaked bread. Make this into neat cakes and use the fish skin to support these. Dice the other onion and the celery and place in the bottom of a saucepan with the fish bones. Then put the fish shapes on top, cover with water, boil quickly, then turn heat low and simmer for 1½ - to 2 hours, reducing the liquid by half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, put the fish shapes on to a separate plate, strain off the liquid and allow to set into a jelly which can be used as a garnish. Also use sliced carrot as a garnish.
"500 DISHES FROM ABROAD" MARGUERITE PATTEN
- 2 lb. cod or fresh haddock
- Dessertspoonful salt
- 1 lb. potatoes, cubed
- 1 sliced onion
- 3 cups scalded milk
- Small piece of salt pork (2 oz.)
- 1 tablespoonful butter
- 4 dry biscuits
Clean and skin the fish. Take the head, tail and backbone and put them in a saucepan with pepper and salt and two cups of water. Simmer for 20 minutes, then drain and keep the liquor. Cut the salt pork small and fry until the fat is all out, and cook the chopped onion in this. Then put in the potatoes and two cups of water and boil for 5 minutes, then add the pieces of fish and the liquor from the bones. Simmer for 10 minutes more and add the butter, the milk, and the biscuits, crumbled coarsely.
- 1 lb. cooked fish (any white fish)
- 1 teaspoonful chopped parsley
- 1 oz. butter
- 1 teaspoonful anchovy essence
- 1 oz. flour
- ½ pint milk
- 2 eggs
- White breadcrumbs
Flake the fish and put into a basin with the parsley, and 1 oz. of breadcrumbs. Melt the butter in a saucepan and blend in the flour and then the milk. Season and add the anchovy essence. When boiling stir in one egg yolk. Pour this on to the fish and mix well, and allow it all to get cold. Then taking a piece of the mixture the size of an egg, place on a floured board and shape into a neat cake. Dip into beaten egg and then into fine breadcrumbs, and fry in very hot oil.
Tile same mixture with the addition of as much cooked potatoes as you like makes the fish go further.
- 1 lb. any cold fish (haddock preferred)
- 2 oz. butter
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ lb. rice
- 2 hardboiled eggs
Boil and dry the rice. Divide the fish into flakes, cut up the whites of the eggs, and rub the yolks through a sieve. Melt the butter in a pan and add the ingredients all together. Stir till hot and then turn on to a dish and decorate with the sieved egg yolk which has been kept for this purpose.
- ¾ lb. any white fish
- ½ teacupful of shelled shrimps or prawns
- ¾ lb. flaky pastry
- Stale bread
- ¼ lb. mushrooms, sliced
- White sauce thickened with cream
- A few oysters if available
Roll out the pastry to ⅓ inch thick and line a well greased deep cake tin with it. Cut a pastry lid the size of the tin. Line the pastry in the tin with greaseproof paper and put in pieces of bread to prevent sides falling in. Put on the lid lightly and bake in a hot oven for 25 minutes. Remove lid and take out bread and paper. Flake the fish and add to sauce (see Chapter 7) with shrimps, mushrooms, and oysters. Stir all together and cook gently for 10 minutes before putting in pastry case, replacing lid, and heating all together before serving.
Chapter Seven at page 115
Sauces for Fish
- 1½ oz butter
- 1½ oz. flour
- ¼ pint thin cream
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ pint of the liquid in which the fish was cooked
- Juice of a lemon
- 2 tablespoonfuls thick cream
Heat the butter in a pan and stir in the flour, add the fish stock and thin cream gradually, stirring all the time, and cook until thickened. Whisk in the other ingredients and cook gently for a few minutes longer.
- 2 cupfuls court bouillon
- 2 tablespoonfuls butter
- 3 tablespoonfuls flour
- Yolk of two eggs
- ½ cup of cream
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cupful grated cheese
Reduce the court bouillon by half by boiling. Melt the butter and blend in the flour, then add the court bouillon and cream, stirring constantly. At just below boiling point add the egg yolks, stir well, and add the grated cheese, but do not boil once the egg yolks are in.
- 1 oz. plain flour
- 1 oz. butter
- Pepper and salt
- The liquor and cream in which the fish cooked.
Melt the butter in a pan and blend in the flour, add the liquor slowly stirring all the time. Season as liked. Add the shrimps and continue to cook slowly until they are heated through.
- 4 oz. butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
- 1 chopped shallot
- 6 peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon white stock
- 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
Put the peppercorns, shallot and vinegar into a pan and heat until the vinegar is reduced by half. Then strain, add the stock and the beaten egg yolks. Stand in a double saucepan and heat, whisking all the time, until the mixture thickens. Do not boil. Beat in the butter and the chopped tarragon, and add salt to taste.
- 1 yolk of egg
- 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
- ½ pint olive oil
- ½ teaspoonful French mustard
- Salt and pepper
Put the mustard in a bowl and add the egg, whisk lightly. Then, whisking all the time, pour in the oil very gradually. Season and add enough vinegar to make the sauce the consistency you like.
- 1 tablespoonful court bouillon
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 oz. butter
- 1 tablespoonful lemon juice
Heat the court bouillon until reduced by half, add a tablespoonful of water and strain on to the beaten yolks. Heat in a double pan until creamy, whisking all the time. Then whisk in the butter, and add lemon juice and pepper just before serving.
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 3 oz. chopped pineapple
- 3 oz. pineapple juice
- ½ pint water
- 2 teaspoonfuls oil
- 1 tablespoonful soya sauce
- 1 tablespoonful Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoonful sherry
- 2 tablespoonfuls brown sugar
- 1 teaspoonful ground ginger
- 1 teaspoonful dry mustard
- ½ cupful mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoonfuls tarragon vinegar
- 1 tablespoonful tomato paste
- 1 clove garlic or teaspoonful garlic salt
- 2 oz. chopped spring or pickled onions
Put all ingredients except chopped pineapple and onions into a bowl and whisk till blended. Then add the pineapple and onions and heat all together, stirring constantly. Simmer for 10 minutes before use.
A simpler sweet and sour sauce may be made by omitting the sherry, the Worcestershire sauce, the ginger, the mustard and the mayonnaise, and thickening instead with a dessertspoonful of cornflour blended in when mixing.
- To three parts of olive oil use one part wine vinegar.
- Pinch of sugar
- Made mustard
Mix the seasonings with the vinegar, add the oil little by little whisking well all the time.
White Sauce or Sauce Bechamel
- 1 oz. plain flour
- 1 oz. butter
- ½ pint milk
- Pepper and salt
Melt the butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and add the flour, blending well. Return to the heat and cook for a minute or two, stirring all the time. Then add the milk gradually still stirring.
- 1 hardboiled egg yolk, sieved
- 1 raw egg yolk
- ½ pint oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoonful wine vinegar
- 1 dessertspoonful each chopped capers and chives
- 1 tablespoonful chopped tarragon
Place the sieved egg in a bowl with the raw yolk. Add the oil very gradually, stirring all the time, then add the vinegar and seasoning, still stirring. Finish with the blanched tarragon, and the chives, and capers.
Maître d'Hôtel Butter
- 4 oz. butter
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 tablespoonfuls chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper
Beat the butter until it is creamy then work in the lemon juice and parsley. Season well to taste, and then allow to harden before serving.
Browned Lemon Butter
- 2 oz. butter
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Few drops of Worcestershire sauce
Melt the butter in a pan until it goes brown, then add the lemon juice, sauce, and season to taste.
- 1 teaspoonful English mustard
- 1 teaspoonful French mustard
- 2 oz. butter
- 1 tablespoonful flour
- 1 dessertspoonful vinegar
- 2 tablespoonfuls cream or milk
- ½ pint milk
Melt the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the flour and mustard, then the water and vinegar. Add a seasoning of salt and sugar to taste. Rub through a fine strainer or sieve, or blend with a liquidiser, then put back in the saucepan and rewarm, adding the cream or a little milk.
Beurre de Montpellier
Special sauce for cold fish
- 2 finely chopped shallots
- Few pieces of watercress
- 6 leaves of spinach
- 3 sprigs of tarragon
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 4 oz. butter
- 1 tablespoonful chopped capers
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 2-3 gherkins
- 2 hardboiled yolks
- 2 raw yolks
- 1 gill oil
Put the spinach, the cress and the herbs into boiling water and boil for 3 minutes, then add the shallots. Drain, refresh under cold tap, and drain again. Then squeeze dry in a cloth. Pound in a mortar, or pass through a sieve with the gherkins and capers. Work in the softened butter, and the two sieved hardboiled yolks and the raw yolks. Chop the anchovy fillets as finely as possible and add these. Blend well. Lastly add the oil drop by drop, as for mayonnaise. Season well with pepper and a little salt. Allow to harden before serving.
"THE IRIS SYRETT COOKERY BOOK" Faber
"Sea Fishing for Pleasure and Profit" (1965) Rowan Cunningham O'Farrell at pages 116 to 122
Winning full profit from your catch
Being the working partner to an inshoreman can be a hard life but infinitely interesting and rewarding. Adaptability is the operative word, as life during the busy fishing season can be a hectic affair. House, crew work and sleep all have to be fitted into fishing times and tides. I soon realised that, apart from the time I was seaborne, many other jobs come my way, including re-fitting, picking nets and tearing round in a Land Rover selling the catch. I was indeed glad to welcome our partnership with Huw as I now have more time to give to the preparation and cooking of the sea food which, being free, is our main diet. This ranges from a soup made with gatherings from the seashore and rock pools, to a smoked salmon sandwich.
Although all prime fish goes for sale, there is no shortage of what we called "rubbish". By this I mean lobsters and crabs that have been fighting in the pot with subsequent loss of limbs, and the less saleable sorts of fish, which require cooking with imagination. I experimented with them all and learnt many useful tips and at times earned approbation from "himself" who is quite a connoisseur in these matters.
In selecting a lobster, whether alive or cooked, grip firmly across the carapace or shoulders, which should be absolutely firm and unyielding. If there is any inward movement of the fingers it points to a recent shell change and consequent loss of meat, and the lobster should be discarded. If there are a few barnacles on the shell so much the better. A cock lobster has large claws and a narrow body while the hen has a wider body and smaller claws, but from a culinary viewpoint there is no difference. To cook a lobster, plunge it into boiling, very salty water - sea water, plus salt, if possible. Allow to come back to the boil and then simmer for twenty minutes for the first pound, and ten minutes for every subsequent pound. Cool naturally.
Never put a lobster in a fridge otherwise it will dehydrate and lose its delicate taste.
For later eye-appeal, rub the shell with a butter paper. Remove the claws and crack with a flat stone to avoid chipping. With a sharp knife open down the back, remove the dark, intestinal thread, the stomach, which is like a small paper bag behind the nose, and the gills. Arrange the opened halves on a bed of lettuce surrounded with the crushed claws, and serve with a simple salad, thin brown bread and butter and home-made mayonnaise and, if possible, provide that useful tool, a lobster pick. In this form it is worthy of a good white wine preferably Chablis of French extraction.
Making one small lobster go far
Although, in my opinion, this is the best way to eat a lobster, there are some simple economical ways of making a small lobster serve several people. Here is one method. Cook as above, remove all the flesh from the body and claws and put aside. Discard the stomach and gills and then simmer the empty shell in milk and water for about half an hour. Make a well seasoned white sauce using the lobster stock, a few drops of anchovy essence and a squeeze of lemon. Add the lobster, cut into small pieces, reheat and fill the washed shells, sprinkle with brown breadcrumbs, a little grated cheese and a dab of butter and put under the grill or in a hot oven to brown. This can be stretched even further by putting the mixture in a bed of mashed potatoes or rice in an ovenproof dish or scallop shells and browning in the same way.
Lobster flesh can also be treated like scampi. Cut into pieces, egg and breadcrumb and fry, preferably in butter. Serve with a mayonnaise sauce to which has been added chopped chives or capers. Lobster is also a most useful addition to rice dishes such as Spanish Paella.
We had a plentiful supply of crabs but they were not always welcome as they were inclined to take possession of a pot and keep lobsters out. Not always welcome, either, in the kitchen as the preparation and dressing is a patient, rather tedious, chore but the result is infinitely worthwhile. They should be selected for their weight in proportion to their size, hardness of shell and size of claw. The crab differs from the lobster in that it must be left in cold salted water for about half an hour before heat is applied. Cooking time is the same as for lobsters. When cold twist off claws and legs and with the crab on its back, prise open the apron with a pointed knife, and remove body portion. Discard the stomach bag near the mouth, and the grey gills known as "dead man's fingers". Remove all the flesh from the honeycomb-like sections with a skewer or lobster pick, and put in a basin with the meat from the claws. Add about a tablespoonful of fine white breadcrumbs, pepper, salt, chopped parsley, made mustard and a little vinegar, taking care not to make it too wet. In another basin mash the dark meat from inside the shell, add a few white breadcrumbs and season. Wash and dry the empty shell and rub with a buttered paper for an attractive finish. Put the white meat down each side of the shell, and the dark meat, coated with mayonnaise, down the centre. Decorate with chopped parsley, paprika pepper and the meat pushed out of the legs. Care should be taken to avoid getting any small shell splinter or transparent sinews mixed with the meat.
Crab meat made tasty
A pleasant change from cold dressed crab is to use the meat from a couple of medium-sized crabs as follows. Roughly chop the crab meat, a few mushrooms, a peeled tomato and a small onion and fry together gently in 1 oz. of melted butter for ten minutes. Season with salt and black pepper and add a little top-of-the-milk. Pile into the washed and glazed shells, sprinkle with brown breadcrumbs, add a knob of butter, brown under the grill and serve decorated with chopped parsley.
Mussels have been plentiful and our great stand-by, both as a meal and as an attractive addition to various fish and meat dishes. It is important to cleanse mussels carefully by soaking in cold salty water for at least an hour, discarding any with opened shells, then washing in several changes of water to get rid of any grit. Undoubtedly Moules à la Marinière is the most superb way of cooking a dish of mussels. Tip the clean mussels into a large pan (without water) and boil fiercely for ten minutes. Pour off liquor and place aside for a few minutes to allow any specks of sand or shell to settle. Pour liquor into another saucepan and add half a glass of white wine - or, if preferred, a smaller quantity of vinegar - together with a clove of garlic and a chopped onion. Allow to reduce for a few minutes, then thicken slightly with a mixture of butter and flour, and add chopped parsley. Place mussels, still in shell, in a deep soup-plate or bowl and pour the liquor over them. Eat with lots of crusty bread, a spoon, and finger and thumb. Once having acquired the taste, there are few fish dishes that are not improved by the addition of a handful of mussels. Try them, also, in a steak pudding.
Scallops were never plentiful on our part of the coast, but were occasionally picked up after a northerly blow. To open, put them in a moderate oven for a few minutes, then with a knife gently prise open. Rinse them, still in their shells, under running cold water to remove any mud or sand, then take out the scallop, taking care not to detach the orange-coloured roe. Remove any black parts and "beards" and scrub the empty shells. There are various ways of cooking them.
To bake, line the deep shell with seasoned white breadcrumbs, place a scallop on top, cover with more breadcrumbs, a squeeze of lemon juice and a tablespoonful of melted butter. Bake in a moderate oven for about twenty minutes and serve in the shells garnished with parsley and paprika.
Scallops are delicious
Another method is to simmer the de-shelled scallops in milk for five or ten minutes according to size. Make a well-seasoned cheese sauce using the flavoured milk. Put a layer of sauce in each deep shell, place a scallop on top, and cover with more of the sauce, leaving the orange row uncovered for eye-appeal. Sprinkle with a mixture of breadcrumbs and finely grated cheese and a knob of butter. Pipe mashed potatoes round each shell and brown under the grill or in a hot oven.
A good rice dish can be made from odds and ends collected from the seashore and rock pools, including mussels, cockles, shrimps and prawns, and any left-over morsels of lobster and crab. First boil a panful of Patna rice, preferably in stock from mussels, etc. Drain well, and put aside to keep hot. In a large frying pan toss a lump of butter, two onions, two tomatoes, a few mushrooms if available, and a crushed clove of garlic. Fry for ten minutes, adding salt and black pepper to taste. Add the rice and heat thoroughly. Then fold in the cooked and prepared beach gatherings, keeping back a few unshelled shrimps and prawns for decoration. Serve very hot.
Our off-season stand-by was various dishes, including dog and pollack that we had dry-salted in times of plenty. From a culinary viewpoint their use was fairly limited and, of course, quite uncookable until they had been de-salted by soaking in water overnight. This done, they can be mixed with an equal quantity of mashed potato, with some chopped parsley added, together with a dash of mixed herbs and garlic if you like it. We do. Then make into rissoles, coat with egg and breadcrumb and fry. Another way of using de-salted fish is to cut it into small slabs, place in a baking tin, cover with a tin of tomatoes, an egg-cup full of vinegar, black pepper, garlic, or onion, to taste. Allow to bubble away gently for an hour.
Home smoked supply
Occasionally, we smoked a small supply of fish including herring, mackerel, whiting and sea trout. These were for our own consumption, and generally speaking the end product was not up to professional standard in looks, but it certainly tasted good. As the fish were only lightly salted before smoking, we were able to keep them, in a cool place, for only a week or so. Cooking was limited to placing them in hot water for a few minutes, drying and brushing over with melted butter, and as the smoking had done most of the cooking, grilling either side for a very short time.
During the summer, usually in the holiday season, there occurs a glut of mackerel. Try this easy way of gutting and filleting in two cuts. Lay the fish flat and cut gently behind the head until the backbone is felt. Then turn the knife and cut tailwards, pressing flat on the backbone. Reverse fish and repeat, and the result is two oval fillets that are manageable in the pan and on the plate.
One's stomach rapidly rebels against anything in the shape of the grilled or fried variety, but luckily there are other more digestive ways of dealing with them. Head, tail and clean fish, fill with a thyme and parsley stuffing, sprinkle with salt, black pepper, dot with butter and bake, covered with a buttered paper.
Our favourite, and quite the simplest way of cooking mackerel, is to simmer gently in a little salted water to which has been added half a dozen sprigs of mint and a little vinegar. Any surplus fish can be filleted, cleaned, rolled and soused as one would herrings.
In the early days of our endeavours we were literally knee-deep in herring during the season, but nowadays the shoals give our waters a miss; so much so that it is useless to wet a net. We can still enjoy herrings ex-shop, if they are prepared to the following instructions, given us by a Swedish fisherman.
Have ready in a deep dish the following mixture: 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup water, ½ cup sugar, 2 sliced onions, salt and a few crushed peppercorns. De-bone, scale and make herrings into meat fillets. Dip in seasoned flour and fry lightly in hot oil. When cooked and drained, put at once, while hot, into the pickle and leave for twelve hours. Remove, and store in a cool place where they will keep up to a week.
One dish of great merit
As a tailpiece to my "do it yourself" cookery, I will end with a dish of great merit. It's only connection with the sea is that it was learned from the skipper-cum-cook of a French crabber who fishes for lobsters in our part of the Irish Sea.
Toss a lump of butter into a skillet and frizzle some small pieces of bacon. Cover with grated cheese and drench with top-of-the-milk. When bubbling, break in the required number of eggs, baste, cover with a lid and allow to poach. Serve on a raft of fried bread. Truly delicious.
I am indeed fortunate with my raw materials. Shop-bought products, possibly caught weeks before, and kept at varying temperatures on ice, are a mere shadow of the inshoreman's fresh and tasteful wares.
If I had my time over again I would choose no other way of life. So full of contrasts, ranging from blissfully busy days at sea with weather and catch going our way, to other times when one is miserably cold, wet and occasionally very frightened. Another compensation is that the work is seasonal, leaving the winter for other ploys, including passaging towards the Spanish sun where we manage to live economically and pay our way with a pen.
"Fish Pie … as eaten by gentlemen who made their mustachios curl" The Daily Express, Friday 8 February 1974 at page 11
An Edwardian favourite with a touch of class
Sheila Hutchins, the Express Cook
You slice about 6 oz. of mushrooms and fry them in butter with pepper and nutmeg. No salt - it makes the black juices run out so add it later. Shake about 12 oz. of soft roes in seasoned flour. Fry in butter, chop them if necessary.
Add the mushrooms, stir a spoonful of flour into the buttery juices in the pan and gently heating and stirring add a cup of milk and, if liked, a couple of spoonsful of cooking sherry. Pour it into a pie dish and top it with buttery mashed potatoes, well season with salt and pepper.
The potato is especially nice with a little chopped parsley stirred into it. Just before serving put the dish into a moderate oven (350 F., Mark 4) to re-heat and brown it on top. It may be served with a tossed salad.
Smoked fillet in a white sauce with a good pinch of English mustard powder in it and sliced hard boiled egg between the layers of fish makes an excellent pie.
And what about fresh cod with potted shrimps heated in thin cream? You thicken this with a teaspoon of cornflour and use the shrimp butter, which is most delicately seasoned, to stir into the mashed potatoes.
For an old-fashioned fish pie I generally buy coley fillets which are cheap, full of flavour and you don't notice the slightly off-white colour in the pie when they are cooked. I poach them in milk, using it afterwards for making a white sauce and for the mashed potatoes.
Put the fish in a pan of cold milk with, seasoning, bring it slowly to the boil and let the fish simmer gently for about five minutes, then flake it into a buttered pie dish, with sliced hard-boiled egg and chopped parsley. Make a white sauce with the milk, saving a little for the mashed potatoes which you are going to heap on top.
Put the pie into a moderate oven (350 F., Mark 4) for about 20 minutes to heat through and brown on top.
Mrs Beeton's fish and oyster pie is a "nice little dish", as she wrote, which "may be made by flaking any cold fish, adding a few oysters, seasoning with pepper and salt, and covering with mashed potatoes: quarter of an hour will bake it".
But oysters were extremely cheap a hundred years ago, when she wrote her famous book, and though I do follow her recipe, I use a pint of fresh mussels instead. This is excellent, you get about a dozen.
Wash them in cold water to get rid of any mud, throw away any that remain open or are broken, pull off the whiskers with which they cling to the rocks.
Have a hot frying-pan on top of the cooker with a couple of tablespoons of water in it, add the mussels, heat, stirring occasionally for about five minutes until all are open. Strain the liquor which comes out of the mussels into a pie dish, add about 1 lb. of flaked cooked fish and the mussels freed from their shells, throwing away any which have remained closed.
Taste for seasoning, add a little pepper, salt, some lumps of butter. Top it with buttery mashed potato and put it all in a hot oven (400 F., Mark 6) for about 15 minutes as Mrs. Beeton says.
"How to weather the prices storm – with a squall of squid from Rockall" The Daily Express, Friday 26 September 1975 at page 6
Heading your way - two new fishy delicacies
Sheila Hutchins, the Express Cook
Scientists at the Torry research station in Aberdeen are now investigating the squid and cuttlefish. It seems they are hoping to come up with a recipe to popularise them.
Raw material for their labour programme is being brought in by the station's research trawler the Sir William Hardy. She has been making trips to Rockall working alongside Scottish trawlers that are fishing squid commercially, mainly for the Italian market.
"The research programme is at an early stage," I was told. "It will be some time before we come to any conclusions … A study is underway to try to assess the potential for greater utilisation of squid either as human food in this country or for export."
Now I have long been squid and cuttlefish addict. They have the most delicious flavour and smell absolutely mouth-watering when cooking; you can often buy them in London fish shops and they are not expensive. They are the things with short tentacles and a kind of bag like a small hot-water bottle at the back.
What do they taste like? A bit like lobster but more like squid or cuttlefish! A lovely under-rated delicacy from the briny deep.
And I don't want them turned into a flavourless, egged and crumbed, quick-frozen scampi substitute. So lay off Ministry of Food, Torry Research Station, White Fish Authority, and what not. I haven't forgotten your fish sausages yet. They were - to put it politely – not really the kind of thing I like.
"We haven't got very far with the recipes yet," their Mr Horne told me this week. "It's been holiday time … and we're still working on it."
He said he liked the flavour but some of them were a bit tough. "That's because you haven't been cooking them properly."
He said there were masses of squid not only round Rockall but off the Butt of Lewis. "Yes and there are lots of them off Dungeness."
There was a gasping noise, or perhaps just a hiccup at the other end of the telephone. "Where?" said Mr. Home. "Dungeness on the border of Kent and Sussex. They say it is the biggest squid breeding ground in Europe!"
He appeared startled at the information. "The fishermen hate them", I told him. "They get in their nets when they are out after Dover sole."
"Remarkable" he said in a bemused voice.
In fact, I met a Sussex farmer some time back who was exporting the Dungeness squid to Spain by the lorry load. He happened to have a lot of space in his deep freeze, had filled it with squid and was sending them every week to Spain as a return load in the big articulated lorries that come up here with early vegetables.
It's no good thinking of them as fancy foreign fish for they breed round our shores in quantity. Nag your fishmonger to get you some.
The little ones no bigger than prawns are absolutely delicious washed and dipped in batter – or just plain flour - and dropped into a pan of deep hot oil. You eat them at once with lemon juice and perhaps a glass of very dry Manzanilla sherry and some large green olives for starters.
In those cool dark leather upholstered bars in Madrid and Barcelona packed tight at lunchtime with the kind of dark and sardonic-looking Spaniard you always hoped would have blighted your life, tiny pickled squid in ripe dark olive oil and red wine vinegar are served as tapas.
You nibble them with one thing and another as you sip whatever wine you happen to be drinking.
The bigger ones need cutting up and cooking rather differently, but are easy to clean. Just pull out the bone like a bit of transparent plastic (from the hot water bottle part), chop up the tentacles. If you want the squid to be very white when cooked scrape off the dark skin from the outside. Be careful not to cut up the little ink sacs in front as they're a bit messy. Cut all the rest in rings or strips. Do the pieces very slowly under the griller sprinkling them with oil and lemon juice, salt, pepper and a little rosemary. Turn them over so they cook evenly. They are absolutely delicious when done like this, they also make you very thirsty.
Seppie alia Veneziana is squid stewed in their own ink, a dark and luscious dish, served in Venice with plain boiled rice or sometimes with polenta.
And don't turn your nose up at the idea of cooking them in their own ink for it is very good and was, I believe, the Tyrrhenian purple dye of ancient times. Painters also use it under the name of sepia.
Cut up about 1 lb. of squid as before. Keep the ink bags. Fry two chopped onions, a piece of peeled, chopped garlic, two peeled, sliced tomatoes and one teaspoonful of chopped parsley in a good tablespoon of olive oil.
Add the pieces of squid, fry them slowly then add water to cover and simmer till tender. Meanwhile, stir the ink with a couple of tablespoons of soft white breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, add a little liquid from the saucepan and when the fish are cooked stir in the ink and so on and bring it gently to the boil. I serve the stew with plain boiled rice.
The Sunday Express, 28 May 1978 at page 18
If you want the perfect dish for Sunday supper
Fish cooked in spinach or sorrel
Wrap fillets of any good fish (salmon and sea-trout - called salmon trout by fishmongers - halibut, haddock, brill, John Dory, lemon sole, grey mullet) in destalked young spinach or sorrel leaves. If the leaves are very tough, dip them in boiling water to soften them and make them floppy.
Put the parcels into a buttered oven-proof dish, dot with a little more butter and season well with pepper and lightly with salt.
Cover with foil and poach in a moderate oven (Gas Mark 3, 170C, 325F) until the fish feels firm to the touch (about 20 minutes for small fillets). Serve straight from the oven, spooning a little of the juices onto each helping.
"Fisherman's Handbook" The Marshall Cavendish Volume 3, Part 74 (1979) Jan Orchard at pages 2034 to 2039
When you catch your own fish, there is no friendly fishmonger to prepare it for you. But preparing fish yourself is easy with the right equipment.
Avoid serrated-edged knives
Most important is a sharp, straight-edged knife. Do not use one with a serrated edge as this will tear the flesh. Choose instead a straight knife with a blade about 5 in long. You also need a pair of kitchen scissors and a chopping board. Most of what you need to do can wait until you get the fish home, but gutting should be done straightaway. How you do this depends on the shape of the fish. In round fish, the entrails lie in the belly, under the fish. In flatfish, they are in a cavity behind the head.
Round fishes are the cod family, herring, bass, sea bream, dogfish (rock salmon), and the skates and rays. Plaice, turbot, brill, flounder and dab are flatfishes. With round fish, slit from behind the gills to just above the tail. Pull out the entrails with your fingers. Wash the cavity under running water. With flatfish, make a semi-circular slit behind the head on the dark skin side. This opens the cavity containing the entrails. Scrape them out and wash well.
Scale the fish only if you are going to serve it with the skin on. To scale, cover your board with several sheets of newspaper. Lay the fish on the paper. Sprinkle a little salt on the tail, grip firmly and, using the blunt side of a knife, scrape from tail to head. Rinse the scales off under cold running water.
Mackerel, herring, and sometimes whiting, are cooked whole. They may be served with the backbone in, but are easier to eat if it is removed. Snip away the fins and tail with kitchen scissors. Cut off the head. Open out the fish so that the open side is on the board. Using your thumbs, press down the length of the backbone, which will 'give'. Turn the fish over and use a knife to ease out the spine, removing as many of the tiny needle bones as possible.
If you plan to grill or bake the fish, make V-shaped cuts along the back. These prevent it curling up. The larger round fish can be cut into steaks or filleted.
The skin of the fish is usually left on as it traps a layer of oil which helps to keep the fish moist. Only certain species, notably dogfish, are worth the trouble of skinning. If you have strong preferences for removing the skin, do this, but before filleting or cutting into steaks. To remove the skin, loosen it around the head, using the point of a knife. Gently unpeel the skin towards the tail and cut off.
To cut a large fish into steaks, first cut off the head. Then cut at 1-2 in intervals down the length (depending on how thick you want the steaks). The centre bone is removed after cooking.
To fillet a large fish, cut the head off, then cut along the backbone, working from head to tail. Insert the knife blade at a slight angle to the backbone, starting at the head end. Work down towards the tail then cut the fillet free, your blade travelling flat round the rib cage. With the point of the knife, ease the backbone away from the other fillet, then cut off the tail. If the fish is very large, the fillets may be cut up.
The round fish aristocrats
The aristocrats among large round fish (salmon, salmon trout, bass) are gutted and poached whole in court bouillon (fish stock with wine). To serve the fish, snip the skin just below the head and just above the tail. Carefully peel it away and snip the backbone, which will be very soft in the same places. With the point of a knife, split the fish along the backbone. The bone can then be eased out without breaking the flesh.
A large sole or plaice will give four fillets. A small flatfish will give two.
With large fish, first remove the fins. Working with the dark side of the fish uppermost, cut along the length of the backbone, which will be very soft, in the same semi-circular cut just below the head. Slant the knife against the backbone and with short, quick strokes, cutting through half the thickness of the fish, slice the fillet away from the bone. Make a cut just above the tail to remove the fillet. Remove the other dark-skinned fillet in the same way. Work the knife under the backbone and ease it away from the flesh. Remove, with the tail. Cut away the head. This leaves one very large fillet which can be cut into two.
With a small fish, cut right across the fish, just below the head. Insert the knife and ease the flesh away from the backbone, first on one side, then on the other. Lift away the fillet. The backbone can then be lifted off the other half of the fish.
Fresh fish can only be frozen if put in the freezer within 24 hours of being caught.
"The Modern Sea Angler" (1979) Hugh Stoker (6th edition) at pages 219 to 227
16. Cooking the catch
Just as the gardener is able to enjoy home-grown vegetables that are far superior to the shop-bought variety, so the salt-water angler has the benefit of knowing just how appetizing freshly-caught fish can be when properly cooked. There is, in fact, no comparison at all between the taste of fish cooked immediately after being taken from the sea, and those dull-eyed, flabby-fleshed things so often to be seen reposing on the fishmonger's slab.
Freshly-caught sea fish can be made to tickle any palate, and from the nutritional point of view compares favourably with butcher's meat. It also contains substances which are valuable in maintaining human health - the most important being calcium, phosphorus and iodine.
A deep-freeze cabinet, equipped with a quick-freeze compartment, is a worthwhile investment for the sea angler who regularly catches quantities of fish which are surplus to his immediate requirements. Most boat anglers, and quite a lot of shore anglers, come into this category.
Fish intended for the freezer should be killed and gutted as soon as possible after capture, and rinsed thoroughly in clean sea-water. Every effort should be made to keep them in a cool, shady place until it is time to return home with the catch. Final preparation for the freezer entails removing the scales (where necessary) and fins, and dividing large fish into meal-sized portions. From personal experience I have learned that many sorts of fish, including bass, pollack, coalfish and cod, retain their sea-fresh flavour much better if divided into fillets rather than cutlets. The fillets should be placed in clean plastic bags, which are then compressed gently to remove all surplus air. Finally, the neck of the bag is folded tightly and sealed, and a label added showing the type of fish, date of freezing down, and the number of portions.
Provided these simple rules are followed, you will find that freshly-caught fish can be quick-frozen and stored for six to twelve months without any noticeable lass of flavour. Rays' wings take to freezing particularly well. Large wings are best divided into two or three individual portions before being bagged up, with each bag containing sufficient portions to provide one for each member of the family.
Another very useful item is a small portable fish-smoker, of the type often sold by fishing-tackle shops. Primarily intended for smoking trout and mackerel in small quantities, they also give delicious results with fillets of pollack and coalfish.
Now for a few recipes specially designed for the sea angler's wife, who - poor soul! - is liable to be called upon to deal with anything from a 7-foot long conger eel to a handful of white-bait. Here's hoping the next few pages will help to lighten her burden.
Baked. Clean and scale a fair-sized bass and divide into cutlets or fillets. Place these in a greased baking dish, and sprinkle with a little pepper and salt. Chop up one shallot, 4 skinned tomatoes and 3 or 4 sprigs of parsley, and spread these over the fish, together with a small dab of butter on each. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Serve with a white sauce containing chopped-up prawns. Note: Freshly caught and boiled prawns store well in a deep-freezer.
Grilled. Scale the bream, taking care not to prick your fingers on the sharp spines, which should be removed. Wash and dry the fish, and score the flesh on either side with a sharp knife to help the heat penetrate. Smear lightly with lard or cooking oil. Cover with a sheet of foil and place under the grill until nicely browned. Large fish need to be grilled more slowly than small ones. Note: On no account should bream be boiled.
These fish are very similar to turbot, and in the kitchen may be treated in the same way.
COALFISH AND POLLACK
Both these fish belong to the cod tribe, and so far as the larger specimens are concerned may be treated as such when being cooked. Fillets taken from scaled pollack are also delicious smoked in a portable smoker - the taste being very similar to 'Finnan Haddock'.
Small inshore pollack weighing about 1 to 2 lb. are best scaled, split down the middle and the backbone removed. The opened-out fish (or fillets, in the case of larger fish) should be rolled in flour, sprinkled with salt and grated nutmeg, and fried in a pan until both sides are golden brown.
COD AND CODLING
Baked Cod Steak. Take a middle cut from the cod, this being the best part of the fish for baking. Wash the fish and remove the fins, afterwards tying into shape if necessary. Place the steak into a greased baking dish and spread over the top a mixture comprising the following: 2 oz. of butter, 1 eggspoonful of dried herbs, 1 dessertspoonful of chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Afterwards add a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place a sheet of foil over the steak and cook in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Serve with anchovy sauce.
Stuffed Cod. After cleaning and washing the fish, leave it to soak in a bowl of well-salted water for an hour. Then dry the fish and stuff it with the following mixture: ½ lb. of oatmeal, 2 finely chopped onions, 2 oz. of dripping, seasoning, and ½ pint of milk. Place the cod in a fireproof dish, and either pour another ½ pint of milk over it or cover it liberally with dripping. Place in a slow oven and bake for 1 hour, basting at frequent intervals. Carry to the table in the dish in which it was cooked. Serve with white sauce; the sauce containing, for preference, a quantity of boiled and shelled prawns, chopped up fine.
Fried Cod. Fillets, sliced from the side of a codling, or the tail-end of a large cod, are the best parts for frying. Methods include deep-frying in batter, or dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and fried in a pan.
Baked. Skin and clean the fish in sea-water as soon as it has been killed, and cut slices between the 'shoulders' and the middle - this being the best part of the eel. Break the slices into pieces about the size of an egg, dredge in flour seasoned with pepper and salt. Place the pieces of fish, in layers, in a greased baking dish with chopped parsley, sliced hard-boiled egg, and a few dabs of butter between each layer. When the baking dish has been filled in this way, pour in sufficient milk to half-fill the dish, and then sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake in a moderate oven until tender.
Fried. Dredge with flour seasoned with pepper and salt; dip in beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs, and fry until golden brown. Garnish with parsley and sliced lemon. Alternatively, skin the dabs, dip in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, and fry in butter. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Fried. Clean the fish some two hours before they are required, and rub with salt all over, inside and out, to make them firm. Wash off salt before cooking and dry thoroughly. Then fry by the methods suggested above for DABS.
Fried. Clean and scale the fish immediately after capture. Remove heads, tails and bones; then cut their long, eel-like bodies into convenient lengths for the pan. Dip the fillets in flour and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Fry slowly in a pan until lightly browned. Serve with lemon juice or tomato ketchup.
Baked. Larger gurnards are excellent when baked. Clean and wash the fish, and slit down the back to allow the heat to penetrate when cooking. Prepare a stuffing by chopping up two medium-sized shallots, a rasher of bacon and a dessert-spoonful of parsley, and mixing well with a cupful of breadcrumbs, the grated rind of a lemon, a liberal pinch of mixed herbs, a dessertspoonful of Worcester Sauce, a beaten egg, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Force this into the belly of the fish and sew up the body with needle and thread; at the same time trussing the fish with the thread so that the tail is held in the mouth. Place the fish in a fireproof dish and add ½ pint of water and another dessertspoonful of Worcester Sauce. Smear the fish with 1 oz. of butter, then chop up two or more shallots and sprinkle the pieces over the fish. Spread a sheet of foil over the fish and bake in a quick oven for 20 or 30 minutes, according to size, basting it at frequent intervals. At the final basting add a teaspoonful of Bisto to the liquor in the dish. Serve the fish in the dish in which it was cooked, using the liquor as a sauce.
Fried. Fillet the haddock and wash each piece in salty water. Thoroughly dry the fillets with a cloth and brush them over with well-beaten egg, then dip them in breadcrumbs. Fry until golden-brown. A few drops of lemon juice on each fillet will be to most people's taste.
Haddock Soufflé. Boil a large, freshly-caught haddock; afterwards removing the skin and bones. Pound up the flesh with a little melted butter, and pass it through a sieve into a basin. Mix in three egg yolks; then whisk up the whites to a stiff froth and stir in separately. Spoon the mixture into a soufflé dish or small china cups, and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes.
These fish deteriorate very rapidly after being caught, and should therefore be gutted at sea and placed in the refrigerator as soon as they are brought home. In any event, it is unwise to eat mackerel after they have been out of the sea for more than 24 hours. When eaten fresh, however, they are most wholesome and appetizing.
Unlike most other fish, mackerel do not take very kindly to deep-freezing. The freezing process seems to spoil both the flavour and texture of the fish.
Fried. Gut the mackerel as soon as possible after capture and wash them in sea-water. Before cooking, remove the heads and tails, and remove the backbone by splitting down the middle. Dip in flour and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Fry slowly in a frying-pan until lightly browned.
Soused. Clean the fish as described above, and place them (minus their heads and tails) in a large heatproof dish. Sprinkle with pepper and salt; then cover with equal quantities of water and vinegar, and add a few cloves and peppercorns, together with one small shallot, sliced up, to each fish. Place in a slow oven and cook for 35 minutes; then allow the fish to cool in the liquor. Serve with cold beetroot and lettuce.
Smoked. Mackerel are delicious when cooked in a small fish-smoker - the sort sold by many fishing-tackle shops. Gut the fish by cutting off their heads - do not slit open their bellies. Also remove the tails and fins. Wash and thoroughly dry the fish, both inside and out, and rub salt well into the flesh and body cavity. Allow plenty of time for the salt to penetrate - an hour or two, if possible. Most home smokers will accommodate about 4 to 6 mackerel, depending on their size. Just cover the bottom of the smoke container with the fine sawdust provided, close the lid tightly, and cook for approximately 15 minutes - or a few minutes longer if the mackerel were very cold from being stored in a refrigerator.
Grilled. Scale, clean and dry the fish, afterwards replacing the liver. Lightly score the flesh once or twice along either side. Place on a dish; season with pepper and salt, and smear liberally all over with olive oil in which has been placed a pinch of mixed herbs and some chopped onion. Leave the fish to drain on the dish; allowing plenty of time for the oil and seasoning to be absorbed by the fish. After about an hour, transfer to a well-greased gridiron and cook under the grill, turning the fish two or three times during the process.
Baked. To cook a mullet to perfection it should be baked. Prepare the fish as for the previous recipe, then wrap it in foil smeared with butter. Cook in a moderate oven for half an hour, and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Note: Mullet should never be boiled.
Fried. Clean and fillet the fish, and dip the pieces in flour seasoned with pepper and salt. Then brush them with beaten egg, and cover with breadcrumbs. Fry until golden brown. Serve with a slice of lemon.
Alternatively, instead of treating the fillets with egg and breadcrumbs, they can be dipped into a thick flour and water batter before frying.
Use the recipes described under COALFISH.
Pouting in Cider. Fair-sized pouting are caught around the West Country coasts - a district famous also for its draught cider. Anglers living in those parts who declare that pouting make uninteresting eating should try cooking these fish in a little rough cider, to which have been added some chopped up shallots and mushrooms, and a pinch of mixed herbs. The fish should be gutted and washed in sea-water immediately after capture. Prior to cooking, they should be filleted and placed with the vegetables and cider in a heatproof dish, then covered with greased foil and cooked in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes. This recipe is also good with whiting and pollack.
SKATE AND RAYS
The majority of so-called 'skate' which find their way on to the table are, in fact, rays - thornback rays and small-eyed rays for the most part.
Fried. Cut off the 'wings' of the skate, which - apart from the liver - are the only portions of the fish suitable for cooking. Remove the coarse skin by immersing the wings for about 3 or 4 minutes in a bowl of boiling water - it will be found that the skin can then be stripped off easily by rubbing gently with the blade of a knife. Divide the wings into individual portions.
This preliminary immersion in hot water also partly cooks the flesh, which will be found of great assistance when frying thick portions of wing from a large ray. Before frying, however, lay the portions of wing on a gridiron to allow the water to drain off; then dry with a paper towel or clean cloth. Dip each portion in beaten egg, and then in breadcrumbs, and fry in plenty of oil.
Grilled. Skin, clean, and remove the head, tail and fins of the sole. Score lightly with a sharp knife, and leave for an hour or more in a shallow covered dish containing cooking oil, a. little vinegar and several slices of onion. Turn the fish once during this period, so that both sides make contact with the oil. Remove from the dish, allow the surplus oil to drain off, but do not wipe it off. Place under the grill and cook slowly. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.
These tasty morsels never form part of the angler's catch, but they merit some mention because during the 'spratting season' they may often be bought very cheaply down by the harbour. Also, it is not unusual for shoals of sprats, when chased by bass or mackerel, to become stranded in their hundreds on the beach at the angler's feet. They may be cooked in the same way as WHITEBAIT.
These large fish are usually caught solely for the sport they provide, and are seldom eaten. Actually the flesh is quite wholesome; though its rather strong flavour is not to everyone's taste. Try it in the form of steaks, fried in the manner suggested for cod.
Turbot Pie. After filleting, cut the turbot into pieces and parboil. Put the partly-boiled pieces into a greased heatproof dish. Make a good rich white sauce, with butter if possible, and cover the fish with the sauce.
Sprinkle fine breadcrumbs on top of the white sauce, and around this add sliced tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs. Bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes. This pie is really delicious, and can be served hot, or cold with salad.
These small fry of the herring, although not caught by the angler, are often stranded at low tide in rock pools, or are hauled ashore in sandeel seines. They should be eaten within a few hours of being taken from the sea.
To prepare whitebait, first wash them whole and then thoroughly dry them in a paper kitchen towel. Next cover a sheet of paper with flour and gently toss the fish in this until well coated with flour. For best results they should be fried a few at a time in a wire basket immersed in smoking-hot fat or oil. Turn the fish out on to absorbent paper, then transfer them to heated plates and serve with sliced lemon.
Fried. Gut and wash the fish, and wipe it dry with a cloth. Decent-sized whiting can either be fried as fillets, or the whole fish can be curled up, tail in mouth, and fried in a wire basket in deep fat. Serve with a slice of lemon.
Baked. Whiting are caught in large numbers during the autumn - the mushroom season - so here is a recipe which makes use of both these delicacies. Gut and fillet the fish, and place in a greased fireproof dish with a little draught cider, several small peeled mushrooms and a sliced shallot. Cover with foil and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes or more, according to the size of the fish. Transfer the fish and warmed vegetables to a warmed dish, and quickly concentrate the liquor by pouring it into a small saucepan, stirring in a little creamed-up flour and butter, mixed in equal proportions by weight, and boiling rapidly. Pour the concentrated liquor over the fish and mushrooms, and serve with mashed potatoes.
These fish are not normally kept for the table, but they are often caught by youthful anglers who expect them to be cooked and eaten by the family. Frying them with tomatoes and sliced onions is perhaps the best way of turning wrasse into a reasonably palatable dish.
"Cod Fishing" (1987) John Rawle at page 164
There are many ways of cooking cod; it is probably one of the most versatile fish for culinary purposes. These are a couple of my favourite ways of cooking it - both simple but very nice and easy to prepare.
Cod with cheese
- Lay the fillet of cod on a sheet of tin foil, skin side down and season with salt and pepper.
- Cut some thin slices of butter and lay along the fillet.
- Cook the fish under a medium grill until you can lift the fish from the skin.
- Take it from under the grill and cover the fish with slices of cheddar cheese about an eighth of an inch thick. Put it back under the grill until the cheese has melted and is slightly brown.
- Serve it with mashed potatoes and runner beans or peas.
Cod with savoury sauce
- Grill a fillet of cod with butter until cooked then put to one side, keeping it warm.
- Make a white sauce.
- Peel a ¼lb of mushrooms and cut into small pieces and lightly fry. Peel and chop a large onion and lightly fry in butter.
- Mix the mushrooms and onion in the sauce and reheat.
- Serve the cod with mashed potatoes, then pour the sauce over it.
"Sea Fishing For Fun" (1997) Alan Wrangles & Jack P. Tupper at pages 109 to 123
8. Cleaning and cooking your catch
Killing, gutting and cleaning
It is seldom necessary to kill your catch, as in the vast majority of cases a fish will suffocate very quickly when taken from the water. There are a few exceptions to this rule; the dogfish is possibly the best example of a fish which will survive for some time out of water. At the other end of the scale there is the mackerel, which ceases all movement within seconds.
When it is necessary to kill a fish, do it quickly, severing its spinal cord with a knife. Use a knife with a strong, pointed blade, which will also serve for gutting and cutting large fish into manageable portions. For skinning and filleting, a sharp-pointed knife with a thin flexible blade is usually handier.
A cutting board is also important, a square of beech wood is ideal, though not cheap to buy new. Sometimes a suitable board can be found in a second-hand furniture store. The main point to remember is that unless a cutting board is used, it is inevitable that someone will damage a varnished seat or gunwale.
You also need a good pair of pliers, rags, an oilstone or other sharpener for your knife, one or two buckets and a fish tray. It really is most unhygienic to leave fish that is going to be eaten lying around either on the deck or in an old and dirty box.
Fish that are destined for the table should be gutted and cleaned as soon as possible, and most fish can be gutted quickly and easily. Insert the knife point into the vent and cut toward the head; this lays open the stomach cavity which is then cleaned out. Once this has been done the fish can be left for several hours. However, do not leave it where the wind and sun can dry both scales and skin; this is particularly important if the catch is destined for the deep freeze. Any deterioration in quality should be avoided when flesh is to be kept frozen for a period.
Cleaning and filleting
A fish is cooked either whole or in pieces. If whole, it may or may not be left complete with head, but the scales and spurs must always be removed. Once the scales become dry they are more difficult to remove, and when scraped from the skin they will tend to fly in all directions. To avoid unnecessary mess, lay the fish under water and then scrape from tail to head. Trim fins and spurs with either a sharp knife or scissors.
If the fish is to be cooked complete with head, make sure that the mouth is thoroughly cleaned, and also remove the gill filaments.
A fish must be fairly large before it is worth slicing into cutlets. Even with a round fish, such as cod or bass, weighing about 10 lb or more, there would not be more than two or three reasonable cutlets before the reduced body size made it necessary to fillet.
When removing the head before cutting either the first cutlet or fillet, do not waste prime flesh by slicing straight down from back to belly. Follow the cutting lines on the diagrams. Do not be in a hurry, cut carefully and angle the knife blade slightly towards the bone. This will ensure the maximum amount of flesh is removed.
After gutting the fish remove each of its fins, cutting flush with the body. Always cut from the tail towards the head. Using just the knife tip, score a line from head to tail right down the centre of the back, and make another score mark on the underside, continuing from the vent to tail. These score marks are meant to do no more than penetrate the skin. Do not remove the head.
Finally, use your knife to make another score mark around what could be termed its neck. You can now lift a corner of skin, high up on the body on either side, where the lateral score mark along the back joins the cut around its neck. Place a piece of rag around the head, hold the head tight, and using the pliers strip the skin right down one half of the body. Repeat the process on the other half, chop off the tail and head, and you are left with several pounds of delicious flesh.
Skate and ray
When you catch a skate or ray, remember that these are round fish which have developed in such a way that their pectoral fins have become greatly enlarged. It is these pectoral fins or 'wings' which you must now remove, as they are the sections which produce the edible meat. The diagram shows the approximate positioning of the fish's main body and by following the cutting line both pectoral fins can be removed and be prepared for cooking.
Once the wings are removed they must be skinned. This is the most difficult part of the whole operation, and unless done carefully can result in grazed fingers. Start by laying the wings on a cutting board, thick edge toward you. Hold firmly, using a piece of clean rag to protect hand and fingers, and with a very sharp but thin-bladed knife, begin separating skin from flesh.
As soon as a flap large enough to hold has been lifted turn the wing around and, holding the inner edge of the wing with one hand, strip the skin either by hand or with a pair of pliers. Treat both the upper and lower side the same way.
If the wing is large and difficult to skin you may well find a spiked board useful. I keep a square of beech wood specifically for this purpose. Drive a nail or two through the board, and use the protruding point to anchor the wing.
Lay the wings on the board, and begin as before by lifting a flap. Once a fair-sized flap of skin has been cleared, turn the board around, and once again try to strip the skin manually. If this is not possible, continue with the knife blade, but, as you cut, angle the blade upwards towards the underside of the skin. This will enable you to make a relatively clean and complete removal.
Perform this task slowly and methodically, remembering all the while that what you are cutting is not only very good to eat, but also as valuable as pork or lamb.
Skinning other fish
Apart from the dogfish, skate and ray, there are several other fish which are also more easily dealt with if skinned. Bass, bream and red mullet are covered with large coarse scales which should be removed before cooking. If these fish are destined to be cooked on the bone, then one need do no more than gut, trim the fins and generally clean and scrape the body to remove the scales, and then cut off the head. But filleting is made a lot easier if both skin and scales are removed together. This is a simple operation, just as long as the score marks are clean and not too deep. Ideally the cut line should just penetrate the skin. Lift a corner of skin, grasp the fish's head in one hand and strip the skin down towards the tail with the other.
Bass can be sliced into cutlets or filleted, and then cooked in a variety of ways ranging from grilling to deep frying in batter. However, bass have a slightly dry flesh, and are delicious when stuffed and baked in the oven.
Gut and thoroughly clean the fish, remove the scales but not the skin or head.
For stuffing, lightly fry a couple of rashers of streaky bacon, cut them into strips and mix them in a bowl with chopped hard-boiled egg, prawns or shrimps, mushrooms and a small amount of breadcrumbs (these ingredients can be measured according to taste). Finally, add a few drops of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of basil.
Force the stuffing into the stomach cavity, lay a few rashers of streaky bacon along both sides of the fish, wrap it in foil and bake in a medium oven for approximately 30-40 minutes per pound (including weight of stuffing).
When the fish is cooked, allow it to cool slowly in its juices. Do not remove the foil until the fish has cooled slowly and completely.
Lay the fish on a serving dish, chill slightly in the refrigerator, then decorate it with olives, cucumber, lettuce, and lemon etc. Served cold with a salad, it is magnificent.
These fish have a covering of large and extremely coarse scales. Once these are removed the fish can be cooked whole on the bone (either grilled or fried). Many prefer to skin, fillet, and then bake the fillets in the oven in a coveted dish.
The fillets can be grilled, and just before serving, dusted with grated cheese, returned under the heat, browned and then served.
However, despite the obvious advantages of these relatively simple ways of cooking bream, this quite ordinary fish can be transformed by being slightly more adventurous.
Take approximately 2 lb of bream fillets and lay them in a baking dish, season, and add the juice of half a lemon. Almost cover with thick cream (about ½ pint), and sprinkle with 2-3 oz of grated parmesan cheese. Dot the fish with several pieces of butter, and bake it in a moderate oven (approximately 370 degrees F), for about 20-25 minutes. Serve it hot with your favourite mixed vegetables.
Coalfish (coley or saithe)
An easily cleaned and prepared species; no need to skin.
These fish can be fairly sizeable, so why not take advantage of an interesting recipe, one which is based on a really thick cutlet, something weighing 2 1b or more.
Lay the cutlet, belly down, in a large but shallow casserole. Salt and pepper the fish and rub it into the skin. Cut ¼ lb of streaky bacon rashers into strips and add ½ lb of button mushrooms. Place both bacon and mushrooms in a dish and around the cutlet. Smear the fish liberally with butter and bake it in a moderate oven for about 50 minutes.
This recipe can be varied considerably. For example, instead of coalfish, either cod or pollack can be used, or even ling. Onions and/or tomatoes can be used instead of, or as well as, mushrooms. Some may even fancy the addition of an amount of curry powder, this being sprinkled over the fish before baking. This dish can be served hot with potatoes, or cold with salad.
Crispy fried with chips may be the traditional way of serving cod, but like the previously mentioned species, cod is easy to prepare, so why not be adventurous? Grilled cod cutlets with mushrooms and almonds are easy to prepare, making an extremely quick meal which needs the minimum of fuss.
Lay the cutlets down in a grill pan in which an amount of butter has been melted. Turn the cutlets once so that both sides are greased, sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese and cook under moderate heat until golden and tender. Turn the cutlets over and repeat the process.
While the cutlets are grilling, fry some almonds in butter (1 oz to each cutlet) with an equal weight of mushrooms.
When the fish is cooked, lay it on a serving dish, surround it with mushrooms and nuts, garnish with parsley and serve.
Other fish besides cod can be used in the recipe: turbot, brill, haddock and similar white fish.
Once the eel has been gutted, cleaned and its head removed, an extremely nutritious and high quality white flesh is left.
Some favour skinning, but this I do not consider necessary. Slice thick cutlets from the body starting immediately behind the head: this can be continued for approximately two-thirds of the body length, until it becomes too thin and bony to worry about.
These cutlets can be either steamed or boiled in water salted to taste; when cooked, serve with creamed potatoes and parsley sauce.
Conger steaks can also be baked in foil or cooked in other ways already described.
One old Cornish recipe describes the making of conger pie. Choose several good thick cutlets and coat them with seasoned flour. Lay the conger into a deep, well greased casserole dish, add several knobs of butter and parsley to taste. Add milk and cook slowly in a moderate oven until about half cooked. Add some fresh cream, top with a short crust pastry lid, and finish in a hot oven.
Chopped chives or mushrooms can be added if desired.
From the culinary standpoint these are probably the most underrated fish in the sea, but, as they form quite a sizeable proportion of the sea fisherman's general catch, it is important to make the best of them. Dogfish have a most unfortunate name, and no doubt this is why they are often described by the trade as 'Dutch eel', huss' or even 'rock salmon'. However, a dogfish is a dogfish, and no amount of name-changing will alter the fact that it is an easily cooked and tasty fish.
It can be cooked in many ways, ranging from the traditional 'deep fried in batter' to the more exotic 'curried dog-fish'.
The list of ingredients is quite impressive, starting with cooking oil and ending with a couple of pounds of fish which has been cleaned, skinned and cut into portions. Filling in between oil and fish there are items such as a large apple and an onion of equal size, one carrot and two or three tomatoes. A tablespoonful of flour, curry powder to taste, 1 - 2 oz of sultanas and a tablespoonful of dessicated coconut, the juice of one fresh lemon and about half a pint of stock will also be needed.
Chop the vegetables and cook them in oil. When soft add the sultanas and continue cooking slowly until the vegetables colour, add the curry powder and continue cooking for another 5 - 7 minutes.
Make a sauce with flour and stock, heat it slowly and then add to the curried vegetables. Continue cooking the sauce slowly until it thickens, pour half into a casserole dish, arrange the fish pieces and pour the remaining sauce over the fish. Bake it slowly for about 40 - 50 minutes. When cooked, add coconut and lemon juice to taste.
This dish can be served with rice, or if you prefer, creamed or boiled potatoes.
Many other recipes exist for cooking dogfish; they vary from poaching in salted water flavoured with garlic, to baking with cream and parmesan cheese in a casserole.
Dogfish have no small or sharp bones to worry about, and are therefore often a children's favourite.
Eels are another much underrated fish. The flesh is firm, white and sweet, and they can be cooked in a number of ways.
Clean and gut, score around the 'collar', wrap the head in rag and hold tightly and strip the skin with a pair of pliers. Eels skin quite easily. Cut the body into chunks, dust with seasoned flour and fry in butter.
For jellied eels, thoroughly clean and remove the head; trim the fins and cut the body into chunks. (Do not skin).
Once again clean and then lay the pieces of eel in a pan, cover with fresh water and bring this slowly to the boil. Rinse the eel under running cold water and then replace it in the pan; once again cover with fresh water, add salt to taste, bring it slowly to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
When cooked, pour both fish and liquid into a bowl and leave it in the refrigerator to set. Gelatine is not necessary unless you want a really thick jelly.
This basic recipe can be varied in a number of ways. For example, the eel flesh can be cooked with parsley, onion, vinegar and bay leaf; when cooked, add the whisked white of a couple of eggs, salt and pepper. If desired, add 1 - 2 oz of leaf gelatine, bring to the boil once again and then pour into a bowl and allow to set.
Flounders are easy to deal with: just remove the head and gut. They can be smeared with butter, sprinkled with seafood spices and then grilled on the bone.
The fillets are excellent deep-fried in batter, or cooked on a buttered plate placed on top of a saucepan of simmering water. This latter method is both quick and simple, and the fillets can be made more enticing by adding a spoonful of cream, chopped chives or even a light sprinkling of dry mustard powder.
Fillets cut from a sizeable flounder (or indeed from any flatfish) can be used to create a particularly interesting dish of rolled fillets with lemon sauce.
Roll each fillet, skin side out, and secure with a cocktail stick. Lay the fillets in a deep saucepan, cover them with cold court bouillon  and heat this slowly. Simmer it until the fish is cooked - this should be in about 10 - 12 minutes.
Prepare the lemon sauce while the fillets are cooking. Lay the fillets, when cooked, in a casserole dish, remove the sticks and keep the fish warm until the sauce is ready. Pour sauce over the fillets, and then decorate them with shrimps, parsley and thin slices of lemon.
Flounder fillets are delicious when dipped in beaten egg, covered in breadcrumbs and fried in butter.
Clean, gut and scrape the scales, or skin the fish; cut it into sections, coat it with seasoned flour and fry it in butter. Ignore the green bones!
A fish which gives excellent firm white flesh which can be cooked in a number of ways. Prepare the fish and scrape the skin, fillet and fry in any of the previously suggested ways, or roll and present with lemon or cheese sauce.
Grill on the bone - bake in foil with mushrooms - or why not try making a fish chowder. This way nothing is wasted.
Clean and skin the fish (about 2 lb) removing gill filaments and eyeballs; fillet, and cut the fillets into half-inch squares.
Place all oddments (head, bones and tail) into a saucepan with 1 pt water, bring this to the boil and simmer for half an hour. While this is slowly cooking, dice 2 - 3 oz of salt pork and fry them until the fat is golden brown; add chopped onion; cover and cook this slowly for a further 10 minutes.
Transfer the pork and onion to a saucepan, add ½ pt of water, and 1 lb of diced potato. Bring this to the boil and simmer for 5 - 7 minutes. Add the stock from the bones, the cubes of fish, a knob of butter and 1 pt of scalded milk. Simmer for about 10 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a dash of cream.
An easy fish to both clean and cook. Remove the head, open the gut and thoroughly clean, and it is then ready to be either split open or grilled whole. If mackerel are to be cooked whole, score the sides, grease the grill and brush with melted butter, then grill until the skin turns brown. Serve with a knob of butter, parsley and slices of lemon.
Mackerel split for cooking should be grilled flesh side first, and can be sprinkled with a small amount of finely chopped shallot or onion.
Soused mackerel are excellent with salad. Clean the fish and remove head and fins. Lay it head to tail in a large flat casserole, and cover with a half-and-half mixture of pure malt vinegar and water. Add pickling spices to your own taste, plus a bay leaf and at least one large sliced onion.
Cook this slowly for 2 hours or more; exact timing depends upon the size of the fish. Allow to cool slowly, and let it stand at least 24 hours in a cool larder. Serve cold with chilled, dry white wine and salad.
Never use stale mackerel, they are a poor apology for fresh.
Smoked mackerel are a speciality of Cornwall and Devon, and many consider them superior to any other smoked fish.
A well known fish which is simple to prepare and can be cooked in a variety of ways.
Filleted and cooked as previously suggested for flounders, grilled or fried on the bone, steamed or baked in the oven with cheese.
However, for one particular recipe the requirements are: one plaice per person, eggs, mushrooms, breadcrumbs, shrimps and a few rashers of streaky or boiled collar bacon.
Clean each fish, gut and remove the head, and lay the fish on a cutting board, spots uppermost. Place the point of a filleting knife onto the line running down the centre of its back, and slicing down to the bone and then outwards, cut a 'pocket' into the fillet on each side of the centre line.
Make sure that the knife cuts do not go out of the side of the fish. To be successful the 'pockets' must be secure.
Hard boil one egg per fish, and fry strips of bacon with chopped mushroom. When cooked, add chopped hard-boiled egg, shrimps and breadcrumbs, plus seasoning to taste.
Lay the fish in a buttered grill pan and cook the underside first; turn, stuff the pockets with the egg, bacon and shrimp mixture, brush with melted butter and grill. Serve with slices of lemon, grilled tomato and chips.
Skate and ray
The skinned wings of both skate and ray can be fried or grilled. However, cooked slowly in the oven with mushrooms, parsley and onions, they are excellent.
Cut the wings into 2 in slices (cut following the line of bone) and lay in a suitable, buttered, fireproof dish. Both surround and cover the fish with sliced mushroom, onion and parsley with salt and black pepper to taste. Cover and cook in a medium oven for about one hour.
Make a basic white sauce with flour, butter and the liquid from the fish. Pour the sauce over the fish, sprinkle it with breadcrumbs and brown under the grill. A slight variation can be made by adding a small amount of grated parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs.
Sole can be cooked in any one of a vast number of ways, ranging from the exotic fillets of sole bonne femme to the more mundane fried sole and chips. Whichever you choose, remember that sole must be skinned.
Wash and dry the fish, remove the fins and lay the fish down on a cutting board, tail towards you. Score the skin just above the tail, and after lifting the first inch carefully, jerk the skin quickly and firmly towards the head; it should strip quite easily.
When dealing with sole, or indeed any other species, it sometimes helps to dip your fingers into salt; this will improve your grip.
Sole are the only flatfish that are skinned on the bone. If it is thought necessary to skin flounders, dabs or plaice, remove the fillets first, and then lay the fillet down and cut from tail towards head, angling the knife downwards while cutting.
Both turbot and brill are highly prized flatfish, and as such can be treated identically. As with sole there are many exotic recipes, but one of the nicest is baked turbot with shrimp or prawn sauce.
Slice the fish into pieces of a suitable size and lay in a buttered, fireproof dish. Add seasoning to taste, plus an amount of fresh lemon juice. Cover with fresh single cream, and bake slowly in a moderate oven. If practical, stand the dish containing the fish in a larger dish of water.
Baste often while the turbot is cooking, and also make a shrimp or prawn sauce, which is poured over the portions of fish when served.
This basic recipe can be altered to suit individual taste. For example, mushrooms, prawns or even lobster can be added while cooking, and turbot baked and served with a cheese sauce is also delicious.
Crab, crawfish and lobster
The cooking of these delicious crustaceans tends to be invested with an amount of mystique. However, given a large enough pan and a small amount of know-how, the average fisherman can manage very satisfactorily.
Lay the live crab into a pan of cold water, and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes and cool naturally.
All the meat within the claws is edible. The coral or red meat inside is just as delicious as the other flesh, but the rather rubbery 'finger-like' section should be discarded. To get to the interior of the crab, lift the shell from the rear. The shell can be cleaned and dried and the flesh arranged in it. Season with a few drops of lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper etc, and serve with salad.
The crawfish (and do not confuse this animal with the fresh-water crayfish) is really no more than a spiny, clawless lobster. It is cooked in the same way as lobster and the meat is almost indistinguishable.
A lobster can be boiled in either fresh water or court bouillon. Bring the liquid to the boil and put in the live lobster head first. It is important to remember that the lobster should not be put into the water tail first with its underside towards you. If it is placed in the water incorrectly its tail can flip boiling water into your face.
When the lobster is cooked it will be a bright red. This normally takes about 20 minutes, possibly a little longer if it is a really big one. Allow the lobster to cool in the liquid, and then pick the white meat from the small claws, crack the large claws and scrape all the white flesh from inside.
Split the tail with a sharp knife, cut downwards and slightly to one side. This will disclose the intestinal cord. Remove this cord and all the flesh that remains here is edible.
Open the main body and use the bright red coral and the green liver - it is all extremely good to eat. Discard the spongy tissue lying between shell and meat, and also the stomach which lays high up in the top of the head.
 Editor's note: a "court bouillon" is a poaching liquid, consisting of onion, celery, carrots, leeks, water, vinegar (or lemon juice), wine and a bouquet garni which has been simmered for about half an hour and strained. The fish is simmered at 190°F to 225°F for 10 to 15 minutes per pound of fish.
"Cod Fishing: The Complete Guide" (1997) John Wilson & Dave Lewis at pages 141 to 142
Looking after and preparing your catch
My own favourite recipe for cooking and eating cod is quite simple. Take one fresh cod, fillet and wash, roll in flour, deep fry in hot oil for about 15 minutes and serve with an enormous mountain of chips, peas and lashings of bread and butter and copious quantities of tomate sauce, salt and vinegar!
Not exactly nouvelle cuisine, but damn tasty and satisfying, especially when you have caught the fish yourself a few hours earlier. A standard recipe is given below.
4 oz (125g) plain flour
pinch of salt
5-6 tablespoons skimmed milk
Mix all ingredients thoroughly, preferably using a food processor, for about 45 seconds. The batter is best if left to settle and thicken for an hour before use.
"Fish recipe by Elizabeth David" Daily Telegraph, 1st October 2010
A fish recipe of baked salmon trout from 'At Elizabeth David's Table'.
Boiled salmon with cucumber and mayonnaise is an admirable dish, but anyone visiting this country for the first time and dining out frequently might well be excused for supposing that salmon is the only fish procurable in England during the whole of the summer. In fact, salmon is at its best in the very early spring. Salmon trout, in season all summer until the end of August, is an exquisite fish. If it is a cold dish that is needed and there is money to spend, fillets of sole make a very welcome change from the eternal salmon. For those who like fish plain grilled, fried, baked or poached, there are the delicious classic French sauces, hollandaise, maltaise, Bercy, remoulade and a few lesser-known sauces made with herbs, almonds, walnuts, avocado pears, which will often liven up a rather dull fish. Of all vegetables, I think perhaps sorrel is the one which goes best with coarse fish. Spinach not being a good substitute, the next best vegetables are tomatoes, and, for more delicate fish, mushrooms, lettuce, courgettes and watercress cooked a few seconds in butter, then chopped.
Baked salmon trout (serves 6)
- 1 x 1 kg salmon trout
Few of us now possess fish kettles in which a large whole fish can be poached, but the system of wrapping the fish in greaseproof paper or foil and cooking it in the oven produces, if anything, better results. Sea bass (loup de mer) is excellent cooked in the same way. Cut a piece of aluminium foil about 15 cm longer than your salmon trout. Butter it copiously, or if the fish is to be served cold, paint it with oil. Lay the fish in the middle, gather up the edges and twist them together, so that no juices can escape. Also twist the two ends very securely, taking particular care that the paper touching the tail and the head is well buttered or oiled, as these are the parts which stick easily.
Have your oven already heated for 10 minutes at a very low temperature, 140C/gas mark 1. Place your wrapped fish on a baking sheet and leave it severely alone for the whole cooking time - one hour for a 1 kg fish. All you have to do when it is cooked is to lay it on a warmed serving dish, unwrap the paper and slide the fish and all its juices off the paper on to the dish. A hot salmon trout does not really need any sauce other than its own juices and a little bowl of fresh melted butter. If it is to be served cold, have it with a sauce verte, or best of all Escoffier's horseradish and walnut-flavoured sauce. It also makes serving easier if the skin is removed while the fish is still warm; this is not difficult so long as the fish has not been overcooked but, of course, it must be done gently and patiently. There is one more point.
A cold salmon trout eaten a couple of hours after it is cooked is infinitely superior to one cooked and kept until the following day.
Hot, with a bowl of butter and the fish's natural oils released, you need the weight and texture supplied by Marquis de Pennautier Chardonnay, Vin de Pays d'Oc 2008.
From 'At Elizabeth David's Table' Michael Joseph, 14th October 2010
"Recipe: How to make Swedish fish soup with wild garlic" 10 March 2017, John Duxbury
Swedish food writer John Duxbury's recipe for fish soup with wild garlic is perfect for a warm lunch on a cold March day. Fisk soppa med ramslök och morötter (fish soup with wild garlic and carrots) is a filling soup and so it makes a tasty and attractive main course for lunch. The recipe is based on one I came across in Mannerströms Fisk, a book by Leif Mannerström, probably Sweden's best known chef and surely one of Sweden's oldest working chefs (he was born in 1940). He has run several restaurants, written many books and is currently a regular television judge on Sveriges mästerkock (Sweden's Master Chef) and Sveriges yngsta mästerkock (Sweden's Young Master Chef). Both programmes can be seen online on Sweden's TV4 channel.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
- Leif recommends using stenbitsfilé (cat fish fillets), which can be bought online, at least in the UK. As my fishmonger never stocks catfish I normally ask for a bag of mixed white fish, such as cod, pollack or haddock, instead.
- Wild garlic can be picked from March until June, depending on where you live. If wild garlic is out of season, use chives instead.
- Pick a medium sized bunch, avoiding any very large leaves as they tend to be bitter.
- If you plan to freeze the soup do so before adding the fish. I freeze it in 300 ml whipping cream tubs. To serve, defrost the soup, gently reheat and serve with freshly cooked fish. Garnish with chives if wild garlic is no longer in season.
- The soup is superb with some good white sourdough. For our recipe click here.
- 4 small carrots
- 600 g (1¼ lb) skinless white fish pieces
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 100 g (4 oz) celeriac, peeled and diced
- 150 g (6 oz) floury potato, peeled and diced
- 600 ml (2½ cups) fish stock
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 300 ml (1¼ cups) whipping cream
- 90 g (1 bunch) wild garlic leaves
- salt and pepper
- Peel the carrots and slice thinly with a potato peeler. Put them in a bowl of cold water and leave them to soak.
- Cut the fish into 1 cm x 1 cm (½" x ½") pieces and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the diced onion, celeriac and potato for about 5 minutes, until softened but not browned.
- Add the fish stock, vinegar and bay leaves and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the cream and bring the mixture back to a gentle simmer.
- Add the wild garlic, but reserve a few small leaves to use as a garnish. Simmer for a minute or so until wilted and then liquidise the mixture.
- Sieve the mixture into saucepan. Season to taste with salt, pepper and possibly a little more vinegar. Keep warm.
- Boil up a saucepan of lightly salted water. Add the fish and leave it to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Divide the fish between 4 deep soup bowls and add the reserved carrot slices.
- Whisk the soup so it is nice and foamy and pour over the fish. Garnish with the reserved wild garlic leaves.
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