Bone the fish and lay it flat in a fireproof dish, with small pieces of butter underneath the fish. Chop half an onion and three or four washed anchovies, brown them in a little butter in a small copper saucepan, pour this mixture all along over the fish. Strew lightly with very dry breadcrumbs grated from a brown roll or the crust of a loaf. Add in the dish a few spoonfuls of good brown sauce, and baste the fish in the oven till cooked. Serve in the fireproof dish in which it was cooked.
In Germany they still use fresh-water fish almost as much as they do in France, and obviously for the same reasons. A full account of these reasons is most excellently given in Mrs. Roundell's 'Practical Cookery Book' under the head of 'Pond Fish.' Sea fish in England is so plentiful that I do not believe, in these days of quick carriage, that fresh-water fish will ever be again a matter of trade, though even this we cannot say for certain. The fishmongers and fishermen are so absolutely determined to ruin our fish supply by covering it with that injurious chemical, boracic acid, very often before it leaves the coast, that I for one would greatly prefer a freshly netted pond fish. Boracic acid can be easily recognised, when the fish is cooked, by the purple line that lies along the spine in soles, whiting, haddock, plaice, etc. It is introduced under the gill, and I fancy with experience one would soon recognise it even before the fish is cooked. But the use of it is now so universal, alas! that a young cook can hardly be expected to know what fish looked like without it. I cannot understand why people who possess large places with rivers, lakes, ponds, game-keepers, and in fact every facility for having fresh-water fish, are yet content to do without so good a variety of food.
One reason is that the cooks do not know how to cook it properly, and the mistresses of the house do not take the trouble to teach them. The Izaak Walton receipts are very inadequate, and depend almost entirely for success on cooking the fish the very moment it is taken out of the water. In France fish that cannot be cooked immediately is always marinaded. (See 'Dainty Dishes.') Mrs. Roundell entirely does away with the terrible superstition that has always haunted my imagination as a fact, that eels have to be skinned alive as lobsters are boiled alive. She is silent on the subject of lobsters, but with regard to eels she distinctly says: 'Kill them first and skin them afterwards.'
Endive. (French receipt.) - Boil the leaves in lots of salt and water, just as if you were doing spinach or cabbage. When tender pour the whole thing on to a large sieve, and as soon as the hot water has drained away put the sieve under a tap and let cold water run on it for some minutes. This applies to the boiling of all green vegetables - cabbages, sorrel, cauliflowers, cos-lettuce, cabbage-lettuce, etc. After the cold water, put the endive on a chopping-board, or if required to be quite smooth as a purée, rub it through a fine hair sieve. In both these cases return it to the fire, after having first put, in a china saucepan, a pat of butter to dissolve with one spoonful of fine flour. Do not put the vegetable in before the butter and flour are well amalgamated. When this is achieved, stir the vegetable well up with the butter and flour and let it simmer for another fifteen minutes. Add a little cream or milk quite at the last moment, just to make it soft and pretty. It must not be thicker than a thin purée.