This section is from the book "Mrs. Allen's Cook Book", by Mrs. Ida C. Bailey Allen. See also: The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat.
Whereas boiling is an easy way of cooking fish it is liable to be unsatisfactory, because so much of the flavor is lost in the cooking water, and it is a difficult matter to cook the fish thoroughly without causing the slices to break. The best method is to have the water moderately warm, put in the fish, bring it quickly to boiling point to sear the fish, and simmer gently until the flesh separates easily from the bones - five minutes to the pound for thin slices, from eight to ten for thicker. The fish should be tied in a well-oiled cheesecloth to preserve the shape, or, in case of a long, whole fish, it may be coiled up in a frying basket. The best utensil, however, is a rack which fits into the fish kettle, for the fish cooks in better shape and is easier to remove than from any other utensil. The cooking water should contain a half teaspoonful of lemon juice or vinegar, and a half teaspoonful of salt to each quart of liquid. Bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, and the like, may be added if desired. The best medium for boiling fish is in fish broth or court bouillon, as the flavor is then not wasted, the liquid finally being used for a bisque or clear bouillon.
Fish, Ready to Boil.
After boiling, the fish should be well drained, and, if the sauce is not to surround it, may be dressed for service on a platter, and garnished plentifully with cress, parsley, radishes or lettuce hearts, with slices of lemon either plain or spread on one half, with finely-chopped peppers or pimentoes, and the other half with minced parsley. Potato balls tossed in melted butter, stuffed peppers or tomatoes, or sliced cucumbers are often served on the same platter. If the fish is white, a tomato sauce is suitable. If a fish of marked flavor is used, like tuna or salmon, a plain bread sauce is excellent. A blend of fish flavors is delicious, so a sauce of some other fish is often used.
It is more satisfactory to steam fish than to boil them. This is easily done if they are wrapped securely in buttered manila paper, or a paper cooking bag, or merely laid on a well-oiled plate. Allow ten minutes to the pound for steaming.