What I can Cook with my Gridiron

Appears in

A Shilling Cookery for the People

By Alexis Soyer

Published 1854

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Firstly, Fish, nearly all sorts, both dried and fresh, either whole or in pieces. I shall not begin with the king of the ocean, but with one of the most humble of its inhabitants, and which daily gratifies the palates of millions; it is—

The Plain Red Herring.—Though we have agreed to make use of every kind of eatable food, it is still important to point out the best quality first, for I most tell you, that the quality of herrings varies as much, if not more, than any other kind of food; the proper way of curing them being as important to know as the quality of the flesh itself. This unassuming kind of fish, which we may venture to call the poor man’s friend, ought to be chosen plump, though not too full of roe, as when they have large roes they are sure to be oily, and cannot have taken the salt properly; they feel softish to the touch, eat stringy, and sometimes decay, and emit a bad smell while cooking; these are unwholesome: but if hard and firm, the flesh reddish, the roe well set, and smell sweet, they are good. The only drawback is that they might be too salt, which cannot be avoided, only by cutting the back up, and soaking them in lukewarm water for a few hours, and when taken out well dried on a cloth, previous to their being cooked. But the way to ascertain if a herring is too salt, is to take the fish in the left hand, and pull out a few of the fins from the back, and taste; you may thus find out the quality and flavour. This plan is adopted by large dealers.