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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/349

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FISH

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR COOKING FISH.

Fresh Water Fish.—Of the various ways in which fresh-water fish may be cooked, boiling is the least suitable. Many varieties lack flavour, others have peculiarities which render them disagreeable to some persons, and should therefore be disguised by a liberal use of seasonings, flavourings and sharp sauces.

Fish to Boil.—In boiling fish it is advisable to use a fish-kettle, provided with a strainer, so that the fish can be gently lifted without breaking. Failing this, the fish should be tied in muslin, and placed on a plate at the bottom of a saucepan. Salmon and salmon trout should be put into boiling salted water, to preserve their colour; but other kinds of fish should be placed in warm water, for boiling water has a tendency to break the skin, and cold water extracts much of the flavour. Fish should always be gently simmered after boiling point is reached, otherwise it is liable to break. It should also be cooked in the smallest possible quantity of water, which, when practicable, should afterwards form the basis of a fish soup or fish sauce. Lemon-juice or vinegar should be added to the water in which white fish is cooked, as it tends to increase its whiteness. The time required for cooking depends more on the thickness than the weight of the fish, but as soon as the bone separates readily, the fish should be taken from the water and kept covered, on the strainer, placed across the fish-kettle, until required. Fish, when boiled, should always be served on a strainer covered with a folded napkin. It is usually garnished with slices of lemon and tufts of green parsley, a little additional colour being sometimes introduced by means of lobster coral, prawns or crayfish.

Fish to Broil.—This method of cooking is an extremely simple one when proper appliances are at hand, but when the only means available are those usually found in middle-class kitchens, some little difficulty may be experienced. A clean gridiron and a clear fire are indispensable factors, and the former may be easily secured by heating the gridiron, and afterwards rubbing it repeatedly with soft paper until perfectly clean. No matter how clear and bright the fire may appear, more or less smoke will arise from it, but this may be checked to some extent by throwing on a good handful of salt. Fish intended for grilling should be thoroughly dried, then brushed over with oil or oiled butter, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Meat also needs to be slightly coated with oil or butter, otherwise the surface may become dry. The gridiron must be heated and rubbed over on both sides with suet or fat, to prevent whatever is being cooked sticking to it. For the same reason it is necessary to move the meat or fish occasionally, using meat-tongs or a knife for the purpose, thus avoiding making holes through which the juices could escape. Delicate fish is frequently enclosed in oiled paper, and should then be served in the paper in which it was cooked.