In highest season from October to the beginning of February; in perfection about Christinas.
When this fish is large, the head and shoulders are sufficient for a handsome dish, and they contain all the choicer portion of it, though not so much substantial eating, as the middle of the body, which, in consequence, is generally preferred to them by the frugal housekeeper. Wash the fish, and cleanse the inside, and the back-bone in particular, with the most scrupulous care; lay it into the fish kettle and cover it well with cold water mixed with five ounces of salt to the gallon, and about a quarter ounce of saltpetre to the whole. Place it over a moderate fire, clear off the scum perfectly, and let the fish boil gently until it is done. Drain it well* and dish it carefully upon a very hot napkin with the liver and the roe as a garnish. To these are usually added tufts of lightly scraped horse-raddish round the edge. Serve well made oyster sauce and plain melted butter with it; or anchovy sauce when oysters cannot be procured. The cream sauce of Chapter IV (Sauces). is also an appropriate one for this fish.
Moderate sized, 20 to 30 minutes. Large, 1/2 to 3/4 hour.
* This should be done by setting the fish-plate across the kettle for a minute or two.
Cut the middle or tail of the fish into slices nearly an inch thick, season them with salt and white pepper or cayenne, flour them well, and fry them of a clear equal brown on both sides; drain them on a sieve before the fire, and serve them on a well-heated napkin, with plenty of crisped parsley round them. Or, dip them into beaten egg, and then into fine crumbs mixed with a seasoning of salt and pepper (some cooks add one of minced herbs also,) before they are fried. Send melted butter and anchovy sauce to table with them.
8 to 12 minutes.
This is a much better way of dressing the thin part of the fish than boiling it, and as it is generally cheap, it makes thus an economical, as well as a very good dish: if the slices are lifted from the frying-pan into a good curried gravy, and left in it by the side of the fire for a few minutes before they are sent to table, they will be found excellent.
Put into boiling water, salted as usual, about three pounds of fresh cod fish cut into slices an inch and a half thick, and boil them gently for five minutes; lift them out, and let them drain. Have ready-heated in a wide stewpan nearly a pint of veal gravy or of very good broth, lay in the fish, and stew it for five minutes, then add four tablespoonsful of extremely fine bread-crumbs, and simmer it for three minutes longer. Stir well into the sauce a large teaspoonful of arrow-root, quite free from lumps, a fourth part as much of mace, something less of cayenne, and a tablespoonful of essence of anchovies, mixed with a glass of white wine and a dessertspoonful of lemon juice. Boil the whole for a couple of minutes, lift out the fish carefully with a slice, pour the sauce over, and serve it quickly.
Cod fish, 3 lbs.: boiled 5 minutes. Gravy, or strong broth, nearly 1 pint: 5 minutes. Bread-crumbs, 4 tablespoonsful: 3 minutes. Arrowroot, 1 large teaspoonful; mace, 1/4 teaspoonful; less of cayenne; essence of anchovies, 1 tablespoonful; lemon-juice, 1 dessertspoonful; sherry or Madeira, 1 wineglassful: 2 minutes.
A dozen or two of oysters, bearded, and added with their strained liquor to this dish two or three minutes before it is served, will, to many tastes, vary it very agreeably.
Slice the fish, take off the skin, flour it well, and fry it quickly a fine brown; lift it out and drain it on the back of a sieve, arrange it in a clean stewpan, and pour in as much good brown gravy, boiling, as will nearly cover it; add from one to two glasses of port wine, or rather more of claret, a dessertspoonful of Chili vinegar, or the juice of half a lemon; and some cayenne, with as much salt as may be needed. Stew the fish very softly until it just begins to break, lift it carefully with a slice into a very hot dish, stir into the gravy an ounce and a half of butter, smoothly kneaded with a large teaspoonful of flour, and a little pounded mace, give the sauce a minute's boil, pour it over the fish, and serve it immediately. The wine may be omitted, good shin of beef stock substituted for the gravy, and a teaspoonful of soy, one of essence of anchovies, and two tablespoonsful of Harvey's sauce added to flavour it.
Boil them as directed above, until they are nearly done, then lift them out, lay them on to a drainer, and let them remain till they are cold; cut them across in strips of an inch deep, curl them round, dip them into a good French or English batter, fry them of a fine pale brown, drain and dry them well, dish them on a hot napkin, and garnish them with crisped parsley.