Some more fish recipes...
A number of recipes for fish served in aspic turn up in extant
cookbooks. These range elaborate multi-layered constructions to more
simple dishes of fish served in a spiced jelly.
This week we have two examples from different sides of the continent.
The first comes from the manuscript Commonly known as Anonimo Veneziano,
the Libro di cucina/ Libro per cuoco hales from the late 14th or early
15th c. and the area around Venice. The English translation used here
is the work of by Helewyse de Birkestad,(MKA Louise Smithson) from the
transcription of Ludovico Frati (ed.): Libro di cucina del secolo XIV.
Livorno 1899 prepared and made available online by Thomas Gloning
XXXIII Common good fish aspic
To make aspic of fish for 12 people. Take three large tench, two ounces
of strong and sweet spices together and half a quarter (of an ounce) of
saffron for this. Wash the fish well and put it in the sun for a little
while (to dry?), then put it to boil in part water, part vinegar. When
it is well boiled the first things that you add are the said spices and
saffron. Boil everything well closed and very slowly. When it is
cooked pull it (the fish) out and put it to cool. Have enough laurel
(bay) leaves, well washed and powdered with the said spices. Then put
the fish into a vessel, and let the jelly rest. You can either boil it
with saffron or not. When it (the jelly) is chilled and a little set
pour it over the fish, and add enough spices and it is done, etc.
Our second featured recipe is a far more elaborate preparation from
Master Cook Simon as set down in the Cookbook of Sabina Welserin, (1553)
English translation by Valoise Armstrong. This is a very interesting
recipe in that it contains a lot of the detail of the preparation that
is often missing from other recipes down to the exact date when Sabina
watched the demonstration.
181 In the year of our Lord 1548 on the 25th of January the master cook
Simon, cook for the counts of Leuchtenberg, instructed me to prepare
jellied fish in the following manner
First he took a pike weighing two pounds and skinned it and cut slashed
notches into it and divided it into pieces. He had also previously
prepared a dish with aspic [with] two trout, each weighing about one
pound. He scaled them a little on the back, afterwards shaping them
prettily so that the head and tail stood up high and he cooked them. He
put water into a pan over the fire, let it boil, also salted it, also
poured some vinegar over the trout, after that laid the trout in the
broth, so that the broth covered them well, afterwards let them simmer.
Do not, however, allow them to cook too quickly or else they will not
stay erect. They become entirely blue. And let the trout remain in the
broth for three hours and they them afterwards on a pewter plate. After
that he put the pike in a pan, put a little salt therein and one quarts
of Neckar wine and let it come to a boil. Next he put into it somewhat
more than one quart of isinglass water, also saffron, pepper, sugar, as
much of each as he felt was right. He let it cook very slowly over a
small fire and skimmed the froth with a skimming ladle, after that
strained the broth into a pot and laid the pike in a dish and let the
broth run three times through a wool or canvas sack, so that it became
nice and clear. Following that he poured it on the pike but did not
allow the bowl to get too full and let it stand until the following day.
After that he took the bowl in which he had put the two trout and poured
into it about two fingers high of broth from the jellied fish. Do not
over fill it. Also reserve a good part of the broth for the next day.
Then prepare white, yellow, brown, black, green as follows. First the
white color which is made like so: Pound almonds small and strains them
with isinglass water, that is the white color. Then take the white color
and color it yellow, then it is yellow. After that take trysolita ,
which is a brown cloth, and lay the cloth in isinglass water and wring
it out, then it becomes brown. The black is made like so: Take rye bread
and toast it well on a grill, then pound it into a powder and strain it
with isinglass water, then it becomes black. After that take a handful
of spinach or chard and pound it in a mortar and strain it with
isinglass, then it becomes green. Afterwards send it to a painter and
let a bowl in which there is no fish be painted with the five colors,
however you would like it, with coats of arms or plants. Everything can
be eaten. The aspic should become firm beforehand, before you paint upon
it. Afterwards, when that which you want has been painted, also letters,
then set the two trout into it and pour the remaining broth over it,
until the broth is as full as you would like it. And then let the aspic
become firm, then it is ready.