This section is from the book "The Memorandum Cookery Book", by Countess Morphy. Also available from Amazon: The Memorandum Cookery Book.
We are very unimaginative about the cooking of fish in this country, and we rarely get it otherwise than boiled or fried, especially for the family meal. But there are almost as many ways of preparing fish, besides these methods, as there are fish in the sea. Even that dullard of the dinner table, the whiting—which has the annoying habit of biting its tail, almost as bad as biting one's finger-nails—can be made palatable by proper treatment. As it seems to be such a popular fish with most people, I will give you a good recipe for it.
A few fillets of whiting, 1/2 a lb. of mushrooms, breadcrumbs, butter, 2 tablespoons of dry white wine (optional), salt and pepper.
Lay the fillets of whiting in a well-buttered fireproof dish, season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle the dish with the finely chopped mushrooms and about 1 tablespoon of fine breadcrumbs. Dot the fish with pats of butter and put in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes, or till the fish is quite tender. Ten minutes before serving add the white wine. Although it improves the flavour, this is optional.
There is a common and erroneous belief in this country that the use of the words " au gratin " implies the use of cheese.
This is entirely wrong. " Au gratin " means " dressed with breadcrumbs and browned" and the word "gratine" means "to brown or form a gratine, with or without breadcrumbs." As some of my readers are sure to "stick to their guns" and still maintain that anything " au gratin" must necessarily contain cheese I would refer them to any good French dictionary, such as Larousse, which will confirm my statement.