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Methods Of Cooking Fish

( Originally Published 1904 )


This is rather wasteful, as so much of the nutriment and juices of the fish is lost in the process; never less than 5 per cent., and as much as 30, going into the water in which the fish is boiled. To reduce this-loss to the minimum the fish should be placed in absolutely boiling water containing plenty of salt, which seasons and also keeps in the nutriment. The fish should be washed well in cold water, rubbed with salt, wrapped in a cloth, and dropped into the boiling water; a slice of onion added and allowed to simmer gently for ten minutes to each pound weight; then carefully lifted out, drained, and the cloth unfastened. Boiled fish is garnished with parsley and slices of lemon, and served with boiled potatoes or potato-balls, lettuce with French dressing, or cucumbers, and either sauce Hollandaise, shrimp or oyster sauce, or plain drawn butter in a sauce-boat.

From the cold boiled fish, left-over fish cut-lets, devilled fish, creamed fish, salad, or croquettes can be made. Steaming fish is far more economical than boiling. A simple steamer consists of a cylinder with perforated bottom which can take the place of the lid of a saucepan, when that is removed. The saucepan is kept supplied with boiling water until the fish placed in the upper compartment is cooked; about twenty minutes will usually suffice, or until the fish easily removes from the bone. By this process far less of the nutriment is lost. Garnish the same as boiled fish. Large fish are the ones usually boiled or steamed.


By frying is not meant the work in the ordinary household frying-pan, from which the most greasy, unpalatable,_and indigestible dishes arc turned out. Frying means immersion in oil or fat at a temperature of 360░ Fahr.

Well-clatified beef-dripping is the best fat to use; lard the worst, as it is easily absorbed and leaves the fish greasy; olive is the best oil; but a cocoanut product called " Konut," and several cotton-seed oils, are good.

Small fish are the ones most often fried, but cutlets of larger fish are often used. The fish are washed and cleaned, washed again and wiped dry inside and out. Sufficient oil or fat 'must be put in the pan to completely immerse the fish.

Brush the fish or portions with egg beaten without separating,' and cover with bread 'crumbs made as fine as possible. Heat the oil, and before placing the fish in it 'test the temperature by throwing in a crumb of bread; if it browns in half a minute the oil is hot enough, and it must not be heated until it smokes.

Put the prepared fish into the wire frying-basket and place them in the oil, and when they are browned and the outside crisp, lift out and drain on blotting paper in a hot place.

Dish fried fish on a folded napkin and garnish with lemon and paisley. The egg-and-crumb coating forms, as soon as it touches the hot oil, an impenetrable coating which keeps the oilout and the fish juices in; the crumbs are made very fine so that little oil may be absorbed by them, and the fish does not become greasy.


Whitefish, rock or black bass, flounders, or the English sole give the best fillets. The fish is cleaned and scalded and the flesh removed from the bone by drawing a sharp knife on each side of the bone the length of the fish.

The flesh is cut into strips an inch wide, the strips rolled over and fastened with a skewer. The fillets are now immersed in the hot oil as in frying, and in three- or four minutes -will be . cooked. They are drained on blotting paper, and served on a napkin, garnished with parsley and lemon.


Take a pound of fish, cut the cleaned fish into pieces about an inch and. a half square and put in a saucepan 2 tablespoonfuls of butter, and a chopped onion, and cook until the onion is soft. Put in the fish, cover the saucepan and cook - for -ten minutes, and then pour over it a pint of, strained tomatoes; add a teaspoonful of salt, half that amount of pepper, a tablespoonful of chopped parsley, cook for five minutes more, and serve. This is good for yellow perch or black bass.

For a pleasant change, salmon may be fricasseed in the following way. Put small pieces of salmon (about an inch square) into a pan with half a cupful of water, a little salt and white pepper, 1 clove, 1 bead of mace, 3 pieces of sugar, 1 shallot, and a heaping tea-spoonful of mustard, mixed with half a tea-cupful of vinegar.

Let this boil up once and add six tomatoes peeled and cut into tiny pieces, a few sprigs of parsley, finely minced, and a wineglassful of sherry. - Let all simmer for three-quarters of an hour. Serve hot, and garnish with toast cat in triangular pieces.


Open the fish at the gills and draw all the intestines through the opening; clean the in-side. Stuff the fish with a mixture of bread-crumbs, butter, and parsley, the beaten yolk of an egg with salt and pepper, and sew down the head firmly, or if pork is used, make gashes down to the bone two inches apart and fill these gashes with larding-pork; dust the fish thickly with bread crumbs, pour a little water and some butter over it and bake as you would a fowl, with frequent bastings for an hour or hour and a half. Lift out carefully with a long fish slice and garnish with slices of lemon and water-cress.

Bluefish is usually served with tomato sauce, but an excellent sauce for most fish is made from the gravy in which the fish was baked; a large tablespoonful of catsup, a tablespoonful of brown flour moistened with water, the juice of a lemon, and a glass of sherry or madeira. It is served in a sauceboat. This method serves for bluefish, shad, and all fish except carp, which is treated a little differently.

Clean the carp as before; wash the flesh all over with vinegar; let it stand for fifteen or twenty minutes. Fill the fish with bread-stuffing and sew down the head, then brush the fish all over with egg and cover it thickly with bread crumbs, and put over it a few lumps of butter. Place the fish in a granite pan with two chopped onions, a bunch of parsley, a cup of water, with a teaspoonful of Worcestershire sauce, and a teaspoonful of anchovy sauce, if you have it. Bake in a moderate oven for an hour with frequent basting. Lift carefully out when done, garnish with parsley and lemon. For sauce, use the liquor from the baking-pan, and to it add a tablespoonful of butter and one of flour well rubbed together; make up. to half- a pint with boiling water, turn the whole back into the pan, cook for a moment and strain; add the - juice of a lemon, season with salt and pepper, and serve in a sauceboat.

For establishments having an open, fire the plan of roasting produces a 'dish which shows the fish at its best. The fish after cleaning is put in a shallow pan which fits in a Dutch -or American oven, is lightly spread with butter, roasted in front of a clear fire, and basted with its own juices. The whole flavor of the fish is retained, and the action of the lire browns the surface and gives the appetizing flavor known as " tasting of the fire."


The fish is scaled, split down the back, washed, dried, and dusted with salt and pepper. The middle thin portion is folded over to give an even thickness, and the fish placed on a wire broiler. Butter is brushed- on the flesh side, and it is held near a perfectly clear fire until nicely browned, then turned and browned on the skin side. Then for twenty minutes it is slowly broiled on the flesh side at a distance of six or eight inches from the fire, raised on a couple of bricks or a broiler-stand, and afterwards on the skin side for ten minutes; care being taken not to burn it. The fish is finally basted with butter and should be served at once.

To broil on a gas stove, prepare the fish as above and put under the flames in an iron baking-pan, and when it is very hot grease lightly with butter. Put the fish in skin side down, baste with butter, dust lightly with salt and pepper and put it under the flame in the broiling oven on the very bottom of the stove, turn the lights down as low as possible, and broil slowly for half an hour. Lift out carefully, spread butter over it, sprinkle with a little lemon juice, serve quickly.

For broiling with an oil stove the oven must first be made very hot, the fish prepared in the same way, and a long baking-pan put over a strong-flame. When the pan is hot, put in a little butter, and place the fish skin side down, afterward baste with butter and sprinkle with, salt and pepper. Put it into the oven near the top and cook for half an hour, basting with melted butter once or twice; serve when brown.

if a narrow, heavy iron pan or a narrow, long asbestos mat be placed on the lower shelf over the flame, the heat., will be driven round the sides to the top of the oven, and reflected from the top on the fish, which will then brown on the upper side.


The fish is cooked on a hard wood plank, oak, hickory, or ash, about an inch thick, to fit the oven like a shelf, and rather wider than the fish.

Shad is most often planked, though any white-fleshed fish is good cooked in this way.

To plank with a gas stove, the plank is well rubbed with salt and made thoroughly hot. The fish is split down the hack, washed, wiped dry, basted with butter, and dusted with salt and pepper. It is put on the plank skin side down, folded back into its natural shape, and placed under the gas stove as far away from the flames as possible. The lights are turned rather high until the fish has a good color. when they are turned down and the cooking continued slowly for thirty minutes, garnished with parsley and lemon, and served on the plank.

The fish is often surrounded with a pattern made by squeezing mashed potato through a tube and putting back in the oven until the potato is brown.

To plank in an oil stove, make the stove very hot, put in the plank with the side on which you will plank the fish turned down. After the plank is hot proceed as with a gas stove, except that the heat is kept full; the fish is near the top on the upper grate, and an asbestos mat is put on the lower grate to drive the heat around and on top of the board as in broiling.

Plank in a coal stove the same way, but be sure that the plank is hot before placing the fish on it, and cook as near the top of the oven as possible.

Fish is very fine planked before a wood fire. The board is made hot, the fish prepared as be-fore; attached with two nails driven through the head and one through the tail, then reared up in front of a good clear, strong wood fire, basted -occasionally with melted butter and cooked for at least half an hour until the fish is a nice dark brown.


For this the left-over cold, boiled fish may be used, or a pound of fish boiled on purpose.

It is separated into good-sized flakes, and the following ingredients then prepared. A table-spoonful of butter is rubbed into the same amount of flour; half a pint of milk is added and stirred on the stove until boiling; 3 hard-boiled eggs are chopped very fine with a tablespoonful of parsley, salt, and pepper; the fish is carefully mixed in. Fill small oyster or clam shells with the mixture and, when cool, cover the top of each with beaten egg, dust with bread crumbs, carefully filling in the edges between the shells and the mixture. When it is time to serve put them, a few at a time, into the frying basket and immerse in hot fat. Serve with cucumber sauce or sauce tartare, or plain.


Prepare a curing mixture of one pint of Liverpool salt, a pint of best brown sugar, and an ounce of saltpetre. mixed well together. Scale and' wash 20 pounds of fish, and wipe them perfectly dry; not allowing them to re-main in water for an instant. Rub the fish thoroughly inside and out with the mixture, and place them on top of one another on an absolutely clean board, and above put another, board with a weight of at least ten pounds. Leave them in a cold place for sixty hours; drain, wipe each dry; stretch open and fasten with small crossed sticks. Put in the smoking-house for five days, or instead of a smoking-house take a barrel with the ends knocked out, make a smothered fire in the bottom with a few chips of hard wood. Lay the fish on sticks across the top when the fire is lighted, throw a cover over the open end, and allow the fish, to smoke..

Whitefish, shad, mackerel, and roe-herring are all cured in this way.


Salmon, shad, mackerel, or whitefish are the best adapted for salting. The fish are cleaned and scaled, washed and wiped quickly; then put in a perfectly clean sack, covered with cold brine, strong enough to float an egg; a small board-placed on the top with a weight will keep the fish under the brine.


The. cod is perhaps the most common and most useful fish 'consumed in America. It .is caught in enormous quantities in the cold waters of the Labrador current along the northern coasts. It is an excellent-tasting fish, fries well in slices or fillets, but is never baked. The tongue, sounds, and swimming-bladders are used as special dishes.- Isinglass is made from the swimming bladders, and cod-liver oil from the liver. Cod is in season all the year round, hut best in winter. Haddock is very similar to cod, but not so useful, as it, has such a large head, which is entirely waste. Like cod it is a winter fish.

The halibut, closely allied to the European turbot, is about the largest fish brought to the market, and is cut into slices and sold at about twenty. five cents a pound, and being solid flesh, with little waste, is economical. Young halibut, weighing about twelve pounds, are sold whole as " chicken halibut." Halibut is season all the year, but finest during winter.

Salmon is one of the best of all fish; it is a strong, rich food, with a flavor entirely its own; though this flavor is only properly known in places where the fish is caught, for in sixteen or twenty hours after death, the delicate oil, to which the flavor is due, begins to decompose, .and the fish, though still fine, is not the same.

Salmon is usually boiled whole or in slices, or may be sliced and ,broiled; or planked and served with sauce Hollandaise is the premier dinner dish. Salmon being caught in so many places at different times of the year can be obtained at all times, but in the East it is finest from March to June, when caught in Maine and Canada, whilst in the West salmon is best from October to March.

The flounder, the American counterpart of the English sole, is an excellent baking fish, but not so delicate as the sole. It is good fried in fillets or dished au gratin.

Flounders are best in May. The shad is a very popular fish, which is largely planked, but very good broiled; it should not be fried, as it already contains too much oil.. Shad is in season from February until the middle of June.

Bluefish is almost always baked, and makes a fine dish. It is in season from April to the middle of November.

Sheep's-head, weakfish, sea bass, and porgies are all excellent fish for planking, broiling, or boiling, and are in season from March to October, but best about May.

The whitefish from the Great Lakes are excel-lent all round fish when fresh from the water. Planked they are better than shad. They also come in about March and go out early in November.

In Southern waters are found the red snap-per, Spanish mackerel, king-fish, mullet, and pompano, the latter called the king of all fish, and when properly boiled it tastes like a young chicken: it is finest in May; the snapper is also fine boiling fish, and good from April to October; the king-fish is excellent in any style. The Spanish mackerel is at its prime in September.

Brook-trout open on April 1st, and reach their finest condition in May.

Fish like herring and porgies, full of bones, are usually rolled in bread crumbs and fried. Boneless salted herring makes a good appetizer for beginning a lunch.

Fish without scales, eels and. catfish, are not wholesome unless taken from very clear water.

They are skinned, dipped in egg and bread crumbs, and fried.

The sturgeon is the largest fresh-water fish and is very nourishing indeed, though rather harder of digestion than most other fish.

In general, cod, haddock, and halibut are winter fish, and finest in that season, whilst all others are summer fish and arrive at their best before September.

Many summer fish are, however, sent up during winter in refrigerator cars, and though not in the finest condition, are quite edible.

Crustaceans and Molluscs.ŚLobster, prawns, and crayfish are the chief American crusta ceans found on our tables, but, though very popular, they are very difficult of digestion through the character of the flesh. They must be fresh and alive when cooked. If they die before cooking they are most dangerous. They are in season during summer, and should be avoided after September. Soft-shell crabs are the ordinarycrab caught as it is shedding its shell, and no ,crustacean is in a healthy state at this .period, but the palates of many .people have been trained to like the flavor, and they are in great demand.

The molluscs, of which oysters and clams are most consumed, come also under the head of dangerous foods, as they are perhaps as unclean as any animal food and are frequently fattened in most questionable places. Nevertheless, so far does taste overcome hygiene that they are eaten alive, intestines and all. Many, cases of typhoid have been directly traced co the eating of raw oysters.

When cooked the germs are killed and the risk of transmitted disease avoided.


Prepare an oily fish, like shad, mackerel, herring, bluefish, salmon, or butterfish, since they do not become dry when broiled.

Remove the head and tail from a small fish and split it down the back. If a thick fish is used, cut it across the bone into inch slices, and remove the bone. A whitefish must be rubbed with butter, because its flesh is dry.

Grease a wire broiler, lay in the fish, hold the thickest side next a clear fire and brown the flesh side first, raising it a little occasionally, so that it may not burn. Turn it, and cook the skin until crisp. Keep turning it, until the flesh is firm. Slip it on a hot platter, with the skin side down, and season with salt, pepper, and a little lemon-juice, if liked. Sliced lemon or pickles are usually served with fish.


A fish weighing from 3 to 6 or 8 pounds may be baked, or stuffed and baked. Wipe the fish, cut off the head and side-fins. Fill With stuffing, sew together, and cut gashes two inches apart in the sides. Place the fish upright in a roasting-pan, skewering or tying it into the shape of an S. Put bits of butter or dripping, or thin slices of fat, salt pork in the gashes, under the fish, and in the pan. Dredge the fish with flour, and bake in a hot oven. When the flour is brown, baste with the fat, and continue to baste once in ten minutes. Cook until the flesh is firm, and, on being touched, separates easily from the bone. Remove from the oven, take out the skewers or strings, lay the fish on a hot platter, and serve with fish sauce or tomato sauce. In serving a fish cut the flesh into neat pieces, two inches wide, lift it from the bone, and place it on the plate. Do not cut through the large bone.


1 cup fine bread or cracker crumbs; 1 tea-spoonful chopped onion, scalded; 1/4 teaspoonful salt; 1/4 teaspoonful pepper; 1 teaspoonful lemon juice; 1/4 cup melted butter; milk or water to moisten.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Use enough liquid to make the stuffing stick together. If a dry stuffing is preferred, omit the milk or water. Dry stuffing is sometimes spread over a slice of fish before it is baked. The above quantities are sufficient for a fish weighing from 4 to 6 pounds. .


2 cups water, milk, or fish-stock; 4 tablespoonfuls butter; 2 tablespoonfuls flour; 1/8 teaspoonful pepper; 1/2 teaspoonful salt.

Put 2 teaspoonfuls butter in a saucepan, and cook the flour in it. Add the boiling liquid, the remainder of the butter in small pieces, and the salt and pepper. Boil five minutes and serve. This is sometimes called drawn butter sauce.


Chop 2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs, and stir into the fish sauce.


Lay a slice of fish on a plate, place the plate in the centre of a square of clean cloth, and tie the four corners loosely together. Place it on a stand in a kettle of boiling salted water, and let the water simmer. Allow twenty minutes to each pound. Lift it out, untie the cloth, and if the flesh is firm and separates easily from the bone, it is done. If not done, simmer longer, -and examine it once in ten minutes. Serve with egg sauce, fish or tomato sauce.


1 cup cold, baked or boiled, fried or broiled fish; 1 cup white sauce; 2 tablespoonfuls bread crumbs.

Remove the bones, skin, and brown crust from the fish. Flake the fish, mix it with the hot white sauce, pour into a buttered dish, sprinkle the crumbs over the top, and brown. If liked, 1/2 teaspoonful onion may be cooked in the white sauce, and 1 teaspoonful chopped parsley may be added to it before mixing it-with the fish.


2 medium-sized potatoes; 2/3 cup shredded codfish; 1 even teaspoonful butter, melted; 1/2 egg, or 4 teaspoonfuls beaten egg; sprinkle pepper; fat for frying.

Pare, quarter, and boil the potatoes. Measure the fish, which contains no bones, and is cut fine and packed in salt. Soak the fish in cold water ten minutes to draw out the salt, and press it well in a fine strainer to make it dry. When the potatoes are soft, add the fish and shake them over the fire to dry them. Mash, add the seasoning, butter, and beaten egg. Mash all together, shape on a tablespoon, or roll into round cakes, fry in deep, hot fat, drain on clean brown paper and' serve hot, arranged neatly on a .hot platter. In place of the 2/3 cup shredded fish, 1/2 cup ordinary salt fish may be used. Wash it, remove the bones, cut into small pieces, and cook with the potatoes. The great advantage of the shredded fish is that it does not need to be cooked, and so does not cause any odor of fish in the house. Cold, cooked fish, with the bones removed, and separated into fine flakes, may be used instead of the salt fish.


1 pound cod or haddock; 1 even tablespoonful dripping; 1 small onion; 1/2 teaspoonful salt; sprinkling of pepper; 2 potatoes; 1 tablespoonful butter; 1 tablespoonful flour; 1 cup milk; 2 crackers.

Put the fish-head, bones, fins, and skin into 1 cup cold water, and simmer to extract the nutriment. Brown the onion in the dripping. Pare and slice the potatoes, and parboil five minutes to remove the bitter juice. Strain the Water from the fish-bones, add it to the potatoes;- scrape in the browned onion, and add-the salt and pepper. When boiling, add the fish, cut in inch pieces, and simmer from ten to twenty minutes, until the potatoes and fish are done. Cook the butter, flour, and milk together to make a white sauce, add to the chowder, boil up once, add the crackers broken in quarters, and serve in a hot dish.

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