Doctor Breck says of this dish:
" I am so fond of steamed trout that I never fail to take with me a dozen sheets of parchment paper (the kind in which butter is sold) in which to wrap my fish. . . . ' Steam-baked' trout are the ne plus ultra of woods cookery".
Small fish can be steamed in wet basswood leaves, or other large leaves, without buttering. For another method of steaming, see page 301.
None but fish of good size should be boiled. If the fish is started in cold water and not allowed to boil hard, it will be less likely to fall apart, but the flavor will not be so good. It. is better to wrap the fish in a clean cloth and drop it into boiling water well salted. A tablespoonful of vinegar, or the juice of a lemon, improves the dish. Leave the head on, but remove the fins. Boil very gently until the fish will easily part from the bones. Skim off the scum as it rises. Time depends on species; from eight to ten minutes per pound for thick fish, and five minutes for small ones.
Boiled fish require considerable seasoning and a rich sauce, or at least melted butter, to accompany them. Besides vinegar or lemon, onions, carrots, cloves, etc., may be used in the water. Recipes for sauces follow. (See also pages 303 and 304).
2 heaped tablespoonfuls butter. 1 heaped tablespoonful flour.
1 teaspoonful salt.
1/8 teaspoonful pepper.
Put the butter in a cold pan, and rub into it the flour, salt, and pepper, beating well. Then pour on a scant half-pint boiling water. Cook two minutes. Use immediately.
2 tablespoonfuls butter.
2 heaped tablespoonfuls flour, 1 pint milk.
1/2 teaspoonful salt. 1/8 teaspoonful pepper.
For two, use half this.
Cook butter until it bubbles. Add flour, and cook thoroughly, until smooth. Remove from direct heat of fire, but let it simmer, and add the milk in thirds, rubbing into a smooth paste each time as it thickens. Season last. Thick white sauce is made by doubling the flour.
Cold fish that has been left over is good when heated in this sauce. It can be served thus, or baked and some chopped pickles sprinkled over the top.
Make a white sauce as above, add a teaspoonful of curry powder, and some pickles, chopped small, with a little of the vinegar.
3 tablespoonfuls sugar. 1/2 pint milk.
1 scant tablespoonful butter.
Put the milk, sugar, and thin rind of the lemon into a pan and simmer gently ten minutes. Then add the juice of the lemon and the butter rolled in flour. Stir until butter is dissolved and strain or pour off clear.
Melt butter size of large egg in pan and stir in i tablespoonful flour and 1/2 teaspoonful mustard. Boil up once, and season (Breck).
Cut the fish into pieces the right size for serving, and remove all the bones possible. For 5 or 6 lbs. of fish take ^4 lb. clear fat salt pork, slice it, and fry moderately. Slice two good-sized onions and fry in the fat. Have ready ten potatoes pared and sliced. Into your largest pot place first a layer of fish, then one of potatoes, then some of the fried onion, with pepper, salt, and a little flour, then a slice or two of the pork. Repeat these alternate layers until all has been used. Then pour the fat from the frying-pan over all. Cover the whole with boiling water, and cook from twenty to thirty minutes, according to thickness of fish. Five or ten minutes before serving, split some hard crackers and dip them in cold water (or use stale bread or biscuits similarly), add them to the chowder, and pour in about a pint of hot milk.
The advantage of first frying the pork and onion is that the fish need not then be cooked overdone, which is the case in chowders started with raw pork in the bottom of the kettle and boiled.
Clean the fish, parboil it, and reserve the water in which it was boiled. Place the dry pot on the fire; when it is hot, throw in a lump of butter and about six onions sliced finely. When the odor of onion arises, add the fish. Cover the pot closely for fish to absorb flavor. Add a very small quantity of potatoes, and some of the reserved broth. When cooked, let each man season his own dish. Ask a blessing and eat. (Kenealy)
Take fish left over from a previous meal and either make some mashed potatoes (boil them, and mash with butter and milk) or use just the plain cold boiled potatoes. Remove bones from fish and mince it quite fine. Mix well, in proportion of one-third fish and two-thirds potato. Season with salt and pepper. Then mix in thoroughly a well-beaten egg or two (or equivalent of desiccated egg). If it seems too dry, add more egg. Form into flat cakes about 2 1/2 x 3/4 inches, and fry with salt pork, or (preferably) in deep fat, like doughnuts.
See page 337. A good way of utilizing fish left over.
To clean them properly, see directions in Chapter XV. Another method is here copied from the Outer's Book:
" Remove the scales, head, fins and intestines, wash and clean well, then place the fish in a large dishpan and pour boiling water over them, let them remain in this water for one minute, two minutes if the fish are very large, take .hem out of the water and remove the skin. When the ikin is removed the meat will be clean and free from moss, mud or tule taste. All fish caught from lakes or streams where fish frequent places where moss or tules grow, will taste of the moss unless they are scaled and the skin removed; the moss taste is under the scales and in the skin. Fish that live in swift running water will not have the moss taste, and will not have to be scalded".
When it is necessary to eat fish caught in muddy streams, rub a little salt down the backbone, lay them in strong brine tor a couple of hours before cooking, and serve with one of the sauces described above. Carp should have the gills removed, as they are always muddy from burrowing.
Skin, clean well with salt to remove slime, slit down the back and remove bone, cut into good-sized pieces, rub inside with egg, if you have it, roll in cornmeal or dry breadcrumbs, season with pepper and salt, and broil to a nice brown. Some like a dash of nutmeg with the seasoning.
Skin the eel, remove backbone, and cut the eel into pieces about two inches long; put in the stew-pan with just enough water to »;over. and add a teaspoonful of strong vinegar or 'A slice of lemon, cover stew-pan and boil moderately until flesh will leave the bones (20 minutes to half an hour). Then remove, pour off water, drain, add fresh water and vinegar as before, and iitew until tender. Now drain, add cream enough for a stew, season with pepper and salt (no butter), boil again for a few minutes, and serve on hot, dry toast. (Up De Graff).
Parsley butter (see page 304) is a good dressing. Stew the eel until done, add parsley butter, and continue stewing until it thickens and the parsley is cooked.
An eel is too oily for direct frying; but after stewing until quite done it may be put in a pan and fried to a nice brown.
A. plain stew is made by adding only a little salt and a bit of butter, simmer gently till done, then put enough fine bread or cracker crumbs in the water to make a thick white sauce.
Parboil (merely simmer) fifteen minutes; let them cool and drain; then roll in flour, and fry.
First, after skinning, soak them an hour in cold water to which vinegar has been added, or put them for two minutes into scalding water that has vinegar in it Drain, wipe dry, and cook as below:
To fry: roll in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and fry, not too rapidly, preferably in butter or oil. Water cress is a good relish with them.
To grill: Prepare three tablespoonfuls melted butter, one-half teaspoonful salt, and a pinch or two of pepper, into which dip the frog legs, then roll in fresh bread crumbs, and broil for three iiinutes on each side.
To cream: same process as for codfish (page 336) except "stir scream until simmering, season with pepper, salt, and nutmeg, cover and cook twenty minutes.
All turtles (aquatic) and. most tortoises (land) are good to eat, the common snappei being far better than he looks. Kill by cutting or (readier) shooting the head off. This does not kill the brute immediately, of course, but it suffices. The common way of killing by dropping a turtle into boiling water I do not like. Let the animal bleed. Then drop into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds. After scalding, the outer scales of shell, as well as the skin, are easily removed. Turn turtle on its back, cut down middle of under shell from end to end, and then across. Throw away entrails, head, and claws. Salt and pepper it inside and out. Boil a short time in the shell. Remove when the meat has cooked free from the shell. Cut up the latter and boil slowly for three hours with some chopped onion. If a stew is preferred, add some salt pork cut into dice, and vegetables. (See page 300).
These are the "craw-feesh!" of our streets. Tear off extreme end of tail, bringing the entrail with it. Boil whole in salted water till the crayfish turns red. Peel and eat as a lobster, dipping each crayfish it a time into a saucer of vinegar, pepper, and salt.