The word fillet, whether applied to fish, poultry, game, or butcher’s meat, means simply the flesh of either (or of certain portions of it), raised clear from the bones in a handsome form, and divided or not, as the manner in which it is to be served may require. It is an elegant mode of dressing various kinds of fish, and even those which are not the most highly esteemed, afford an excellent dish when thus prepared. Soles to be filletted with advantage should be large; the flesh may then be divided down the middle of the back, next, separated from the fins, and with a very sharp knife raised clear from the hones.* When thus prepared, the fillets may be divided, trimmed into a good form, egged, covered with fine crumbs, fried in the usual way, and served with the same sauces as the whole fish; or each fillet may be rolled up, in its entire length, if very small, or after being once divided if large, and fastened with a slight twine, or a short thin skewer; then egged, crumbed, and fried in plenty of boiling lard; or merely well floured and fried from eight to ten minutes. When the fish are not very large, they are sometimes boned without being parted in the middle, and each side is rolled from the tail to the head, after being first spread with pounded shrimps mixed with a third of their volume of butter, a few bread-crumbs, and a high seasoning of mace and cayenne; or with pounded lobster mixed with a large portion of the coral, and the same seasoning, and proportion of butter as the shrimps; then laid into a dish, with the ingredients directed for the soles au plat; well covered with crumbs of bread and clarified butter, and baked from twelve to sixteen minutes, or until the crumbs are coloured to a fine brown in a moderate oven.
The fillets may likewise be cut into small strips or squares of uniform size, lightly dredged with pepper or cayenne, salt and flour, and fried in butter over a brisk fire; then well chained, and sauced with a good béchamel, flavoured with
* A celebrated French cook gives the following instructions for raising these fillets:—“Take them up by running your knife first between the bones and the flesh, then between the skin and the fillet; by leaning pretty hard on the table they will come off very neatly.”