Recipes From Old Books


Hints (for handling and storing fish-ed.).

—The earthy or muddy taste which taints some kinds of fresh water fish can be removed by rubbing on salt and letting them stand a few hours or over night; or, if in a hurry, soak them in salted water 1/2 to 2 hours.

If fish are dipped in hot water for a minute, they will scale much easier. To remove scales, there is no instrument equal to a currycomb--it is everyway superior to a knife. *1 The scales and entrails should be removed, and also the blood and white skin along the backbone, as soon after the fish is caught as possible; then rinse, wipe dry, and keep near ice. Keep the eggs, or fish roe, and cook it with the fish.

The quickest and best way to freshen salt fish is to soak it in sour milk. As salt will settle, put the fish flesh side down, then the salt as it dissolves out of the fish will settle in the bottom of the pan. If the skin side is down the salt will settle against the skin and be retained in the fish. All fish lose nourishing power by being salted.

Salted fish and canned fish, oysters, lobsters etc., can be kept in the store-room against an emergency, but great care must be taken in the case of canned meats, fish, lobsters, and vegetables, that the brands selected are put up in pure tin cans; a mixture of lead with the tin is sometimes used, the oxide of which is poisonous. *2 All the contents of a tin can when opened should be immediately removed into an earthen or glass dish, as oxidation proceeds rapidly after the can is opened, and the inside, with its contents, exposed to the action of the air.

The knives and spoons used about fish should not be used for other food till well cleaned, as they will impart a fishy flavor to it. Rub steel knives or forks with fresh lemon or orange peel to take off the fishy taste.

To thaw out frozen fish, put it in cold water, and leave it until it is flexible and the frost is all drawn out; then dress and cook at once.

Fish, if kept near ice and very cold, retains much of its freshness, but if once heated, its delicate flavor cannot be restored. Fish that is not quite fresh can be improved by washing in vinegar and water, or permanganate of potash *3 and water. It is afterwards better fried than boiled, but no dressing will entirely conceal its quality. Fish purchased in the market should be used the same day if possible.


*1 Lead is universally recognized as being dangerous and is no longer used in canned food storage in most countries.

*2 Smileys probably had something like the currycombs on this Clip art page, in mind, or perhaps the comb pictured on this suprizeacres website.

*3 Permanganate of potash is poisonous and should never be used in food! See the definition of permanganate of potash on this website, or do a websearch for more information.

All text information above the dashed line taken from pages 49-50 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.

This information is provided for your curiosity and viewing pleasure. Reading it provides insight about historical household management in 1901. Reliance upon the information presented here, or attempting to prepare any recipe on this site, shall be at your own risk. CatamountClyde Studio and Gallery, its heirs and assigns, shall not be held liable for any injury or damages resulting from preparation of this recipe or use of this information.

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