Olde English Fish Recipes

1 Apr

There’s no doubt travel makes you think about things. Not always at the time of travelling mind you, it is often many months or even years later that you look back on things and understand or appreciate them. Food is a fundamental thing in all cultures around the world and understanding what food is, was and could be in your own country was something that certainly came to me after travelling. While I grew up in a house with a very good cook, I was blissfully unaware of the fact until I flew the nest. Getting older and getting to know new cultures makes you ask questions and I took those questions back home with me. They’ve led me to many interesting discoveries and the other week I was reminded of a couple of historic fish recipes that I came across whilst looking through the history books which turned out well.

Whiting in Ale

This is a recipe from 1600s England. Whiting is a fish from the Cod family and there are several varieties apparently, but I only used the variety named …’Whiting’!

  • 3 chopped onions
  • 250ml brown ale
  • 250ml lighter ale ( I’m not sure this distinction was in the original recipe)
  • 30ml raisins
  • 1tsp mustard
  • 500g Whiting
  • breadcrumbs

Simmer the onions in the brown ale for 9-12 minutes before adding the lighter ale, the raisins and the mustard. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Put the fish in a dish, pour the onion sauce over it, cover and bake. Thicken sauce slightly with breadcrumbs before serving. Simple and tasty. (Adapt the quantities to the quantity of fish you have.)

Mackerel with Fennel and Mint

Mackerel is my favourite fish and is, luckily for me, available here most of the year. This is a regency recipe, which means  the second half of the 18th Century.

  • 4 Mackerel boned/butterflied
  • 1/2 fennel bulb finely chopped
  • 55g unsalted butter
  • breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • loads of fresh mint chopped
  • 4 anchovies chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • salt & black pepper

The fennel is fried in just under 20g of the butter and the breadcrumbs are added when the fennel is softened. Next the nutmeg, mint and seasoning are added and the whole thing is stirred. Slit the fish diagonally and fill the slits with the mixture and the  inside too. Grill under a hot grill.

Mash together the rest of the butter and the anchovies and put over the fish. Serve with more mint and lemon wedges.

Both dishes are remarkably simple and I’m surprised they didn’t catch on!

Pics to follow.


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