All fish for boiling should be put into cold water, with the exception of salmon, which loses its color unless put into boiling water. A tablespoonful each of salt and vinegar to every two quarts of water improves the flavor of all boiled fish, and also makes the flesh firmer. Allow ten minutes to the pound after the fish begins to boil, and test with a knitting-needle or sharp skewer. If it runs in easily, the fish can be taken off. If a fish-kettle with strainer is used, the fish can be lifted out without danger of breaking. If not, it should be thoroughly dredged with flour, and served in a cloth kept for the purpose. In all cases drain it perfectly, and send to table on a folded napkin laid upon the platter.
In frying, fish should, like all fried articles, be immersed in the hot lard or drippings. Small fish can be fried whole; larger ones boned, and cut in small pieces. If they are egged and crumbed, the egg will form a covering, hardening at once, and absolutely impervious to fat.
Pan-fish, as they are called,—flounders and small fish generally,—can also be fried by rolling in Indian meal or flour, and browning in the fat of salt pork.
Baking and broiling preserve the flavor most thoroughly.
Cold boiled fish can always be used, either by spicing as in the rule to be given, or by warming again in a little butter and water. Cold fried or broiled fish, can be put in a pan, and set in the oven till hot, this requiring not over ten minutes; a longer time giving a strong, oily taste, which spoils it. Plain boiled or mashed potatoes are always served with fish where used as a dinner-course. If fish is boiled whole, do not cut off either tail or head. The tail can be skewered in the mouth if liked; or a large fish may be boiled in the shape of the letter S by threading a trussing-needle, fastening a string around the head, then passing the needle through the middle of the body, drawing the string tight and fastening it around the tail.
Bass, fresh shad, blue-fish, pickerel, &c., can be cooked in this way:—
See that the fish has been properly cleaned. Wash in salted water, and wipe dry. For stuffing for a fish weighing from four to six pounds, take four large crackers, or four ounces of bread-crumbs; quarter of a pound of salt pork; one teaspoonful of salt, and half a teaspoonful of pepper; a tablespoonful of chopped parsley, or a teaspoonful of thyme. Chop half the pork fine, and mix with the crumbs and seasoning, using half a cup of hot water to mix them, or, if preferred, a beaten egg. Put this dressing into the body of the fish, which is then to be fastened together with a skewer. Cut the remainder of the pork in narrow strips, and lay it in gashes cut across the back of the fish about two inches apart. Dredge thickly with flour, using about two tablespoonfuls. Put a tin baking-sheet in the bottom of a pan, as