Recipes From Old Books


To Broil Fish

Clean the fish properly and either rub it with vinegar or dry it and dredge it with flour. Salt and pepper is all that is really necessary to apply to oily fish before broiling them, but salad oil or butter should be first spread over dry, white fish. Fish is sometimes soaked in marinade previous to broiling, as it improves the flavor. The French steep it in olive oil flavored with spices.

Large fish need a moderate fire so as not to burn the outside before the inside is done; they are best split, in order to cook them through well, or else make notches at equal distances on the sides to admit the heat. Small fish need a clear hot fire, and may be cooked whole. The gridiron *1 should always be well greased. As the skin burns easily, the flesh side should be cooked first to a golden brown; then turn and broil the skin side until it is crisp. A double wire gridiron is easily turned, the best way when an old style iron or a single gridiron is used, is to take a knife and separate any part that sticks; then with one hand hold a platter over the fish, and with the other, turn over the gridiron; the fish will then be on the platter and can easily be returned to the gridiron without breaking. When done, sprinkle on salt and pepper, and using a knife, spread a little butter over it, and then put it in the oven a moment to let it soak in. A Maitre d'hotel *2 or other good sauce can be used with it.

All oily fish, like mackerel, herring etc., are better broiled than fried.

The pieces of fish are sometimes wrapped in a piece of oiled paper before being broiled, when very delicate broiling is desired. The paper must be very thoroughly oiled or buttered, but no oil should drop on the fire, and a very clear fire is needed. *3

A gridiron that has cooked fish needs most thorough cleaning.

Remember that the secret of having dry, white fish, nice, is to rub them with salad oil or melted butter before broiling them.

Time to Cook.—This depends largely on the size. Small fish will broil in 5 to 10 minutes, while larger ones will need 15 to 20 minutes.


*1 A nice picture and written description of a cooking gridiron appears on Bailey Forge also has a picture of a more traditional type gridiron, which they call a “grid iron brasier.”

*2 Smiley's recipe for Maitre d'hotel butter sauce has not yet been posted. Please check back.

*3 A fire, or heat source, without smoke. When using a modern oven, follow the oven manufacturer's instructions for broiling.

All text information above the dashed line taken from pages 53-54 of Smiley, ed. Smiley's CookBook and Universal Household Guide: The Toronto Daily Star Edition. Chicago: Smiley Publishing Company, 1901. The background image of fish is taken from a plate in Smileys facing page 48. The editor of this site claims no copyright for the image.

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