If the fish is large, it should be split, in order to insure its being cooked through; though notches may be cut at equal distances, so that the heat can penetrate. Small fish may be broiled whole. The gridiron should be well greased with dripping or olive oil. If a double-wire gridiron is used, there will be no trouble in turning either large or small fish. If a single-wire or old-fashioned iron one, the best way is to first loosen with a knife any part that sticks; then, holding a platter over the fish with one hand, turn the gridiron with the other, and the fish can then be returned to it without breaking.
Small fish require a hot, clear fire; large ones, a more moderate one, that the outside may not be burned before the inside is done. Cook always with the skin-side down at first, and broil to a golden brown,—this requiring, for small fish, ten minutes; for large ones, from ten to twenty, according to size. When done, pepper and salt lightly; and to a two-pound fish allow a tablespoonful of butter spread over it. Set the fish in the oven a moment, that the butter may soak in, and then serve. A teaspoonful of chopped parsley, and half a lemon squeezed over shad or any fresh fish, is a very nice addition. Where butter, lemon, and parsley are blended beforehand, it makes the sauce known as maitre d’hotel sauce, which is especially good for broiled shad.
In broiling steaks or cutlets of large fish,—say, salmon, halibut, fresh cod, &c.,—the same general directions apply. Where very delicate broiling is desired, the pieces of fish can be wrapped in buttered paper before laying on the gridiron; this applying particularly to salmon.
Small fish—such as trout, perch, smelts, &c.—may simply be rolled in Indian meal or flour, and fried either in the fat of salt pork, or in boiling lard or drippings. A nicer method, however, with fish, whether small or in slices, is to dip them first in flour or fine crumbs, then in beaten egg,—one egg, with two tablespoonfuls of cold water and half a teaspoonful of salt, being enough for two dozen smelts; then rolling again in crumbs or meal, and dropping into hot lard. The egg hardens instantly, and not a drop of fat can penetrate the inside. Fry to a golden brown. Take out with a skimmer; lay in the oven on a double brown paper for a moment, and then serve.
Filets of fish are merely flounders, or any flat fish with few bones, boned, skinned, and cut in small pieces; then egged and fried.
To bone a fish of this sort, use a very sharp knife. The fish should have been scaled, but not cleaned or cut open. Make a cut down the back from head to tail. Now, holding the knife pressed close to the bone, cut carefully till the fish is free on one side; then turn, and cut away the other. To skin, take half the fish at a time firmly in one hand; hold the blade of the knife flat as in boning, and run it slowly between skin and flesh. Cut the fish in small diamond-shaped pieces; egg, crumb, and put into shape with the knife; and then fry. The operation is less troublesome than it sounds, and the result most satisfactory.