Nombles of Fish

The term “nombles” comes from “umbles”, which meant the offal or insides of any animal. It came to mean almost any kind of thickened mince or rissole made with meat or fish. The following recipe, only slightly adapted to suit modern tastes and available ingredients, is from A Noble Boke of Cookry for a pprynce Houssolde, a manuscript from Holkham dating from about 1480.


  • lb (1 to 1¼ kg) cod, hake or haddock
  • 5 cups (1.2 litres) court bouillon, made with the skin and trimmings of the fish, 1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 celery sticks, 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, all boiled together in water for 30 minutes
  • cups (240 g) white breadcrumbs
  • cups (3 dl) milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger or 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 1 round of hot toast per person Butter


Stew the fish very gently in the strained court bouillon for 30 minutes. Lift it out, remove all the skin and bones and flake the flesh back into half the broth.

Make a panada by boiling the breadcrumbs in the milk until very thick. Stir the panada into the pan with the fish and broth. Add the cloves, ginger, salt, pepper, wine and vinegar. The result should be about as thick as scrambled egg. Add more broth if the mixture is too solid. Serve on thickly buttered hot toast.