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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/346

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In Preparing Fish of any kind, the first point to be attended to is to see that it is perfectly clean. It is a common error to wash it too much, as by doing so the flavour is diminished. The best way to clean fish is to wipe it thoroughly with a clean damp cloth. If the fish is to be boiled, a little salt and vinegar should be put into the water, to give it firmness, after it is cleaned. In consequence of the amount of oil certain fish contain, their liver and roes take longer to cook than the flesh, and should be put into the saucepan before the fish if not cooked separately. Fish, except salmon, should be put into warm water, and cooked very gently, or the outside will break before the inner part is done. Hot water should not be poured ON to the fish, as it is liable to break the skin; if it should be necessary to add a little water whilst the fish is cooking, it ought to be poured in gently at the side of the vessel. The fish-plate may be drawn up, to see if the fish be ready, which may be known by its easily separating from the bone. When done, it should be immediately taken out of the water, or it will become woolly. The fish-plate should be set crossways over the kettle, to keep hot for serving, and a cloth laid over the fish to prevent its losing its colour. The exact temperature of the water, at the time of placing the fish in the kettle, depends on the kind of fish to be cooked. If it is too hot the skin breaks, and if it is cold much of the flavour is lost Fish can scarcely cook too slowly; steaming is often better than boiling.

Fish to be fried or broiled must be dried on a soft cloth, after it is well cleaned and washed. Prior to frying, dip it lightly in flour, brush it over with egg, and cover it with some fine crumbs of bread. The fish after it is fried must be thoroughly drained and freed from fat. A sheet of white paper must be placed to receive it, in order that the superfluous greece is absorbed. It must also be of a beautiful colour, and all the crumbs appear distinct. Butter in frying gives a bad colour to fish; lard and clarified dripping are most frequently used, but oil is considered the best. The fish should be put into the fat or oil when as hot as enough to immediately harden the surface. There should be sufficient fat to well cover it.

When fish is broiled, it must be seasoned, floured, and laid on a very clean gridiron, which, when hot, should be rubbed with a bit of suet, to prevent the fish from sticking. It must be broiled over or before a very clear fire, that it may not taste smoky; and not too near, that it may not be scorched. Fish may also be baked, stewed, and made into soups. In choosing fish, it is well to remember that it is possible it may be fresh and yet not good. In this work rules are given for the choice of each particular fish, and the months when it is in season. Nothing can be of greater consequence to a cook than to have the fish good, as, if this important course in a dinner does not give satisfaction, it is rarely that the repast goes off well.