This section is from the book "The American Woman's Cook Book", by Ruth Berolzheimer. Also available from Amazon: The Domestic Arts Edition of the American Woman's Cook Book.
Although fish may have been cleaned and dressed at the market, they are likely to need additional cleaning before they are cooked. If any scales have been left on a fish that is to be cooked with the skin on, remove them with a dull knife (a sharp one might cut the skin). Draw the knife over the fish, from tail to head, slanting it toward the body of the fish at an angle of about 45°. If the fish is to be split, remove the head and tail. Wash quickly under cold running water and wipe the fish thoroughly, inside as well as outside, with a wet cloth. Then wipe with a clean dry cloth and keep on a plate in a cold place until ready to use.
Remove the fins, cut off a strip of skin along the backbone, and cut the skin around the gills. Pull the skin off with the hand. If the flesh is soft, work slowly and closely follow the skin with the knife, to avoid tearing the flesh.
These may be had the year around. The following varieties are likely to be in any market:
Brine-salted Fish - Herring, mackerel, mullet, salmon, shad.
Smoked Fish - Carp, catfish, eel, finnan haddie, hake, halibut, lake trout, pollack, salmon, sturgeon, whitefish.
Pickled Fish - Sardines, eels, sturgeon, oysters, clams, scallops, lobsters and mussels.
Place the fish flesh side down in a large pan of fresh water, set the pan in a cool place and let it soak from one to forty-eight hours, changing the water several times. If the fish is to be cooked in liquid, it will need a shorter time in water than if it is to be cooked with very little moisture.
4 to 5 pounds salmon 2 quarts vinegar 1 ounce peppercorns
1 grated nutmeg
6 blades mace
1 tablespoon salad oil
Wrap the salmon in a fish-cloth and simmer in salted water about three-fourths of an hour. Drain, wrap in a dry cloth and set in a cold place till ready to use. For the pickle, use one quart of the water in which the salmon was cooked, the vinegar, peppercorns, grated nutmeg and mace. Boil for a few minutes, in a kettle closely covered to prevent evaporation of the flavor. Cool. When quite cold, pour over the salmon; then pour in the oil. Cover closely and place in a dry cool place. This pickle will keep many months.
6 large herrings
6 slices buttered toast
Select fish with roes. Split, wash, scrape and remove heads, roe, and backbone. Sprinkle generously with pepper, salt, and minced parsley, then roll each piece tightly, beginning with the neck, and tie with a string. Put into boiling water that is seasoned with pepper, salt and vinegar and simmer ten or fifteen minutes. Cut the roe in pieces and fry. Place the fish and roe on buttered toast, garnish and serve.