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article number 416
article date 01-27-2015
copyright 2015 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Your Fish Recipes of 1881
by Maria Parloa, Principle, School of Cooking, Boston
The 1881 cookbook had a color page showing drawings of 4 dishes.

From the 1881 book, Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book and Marketing Guide.

EDITORS NOTE: This article is decorated with drawings from the “Kitchen Furnishing” chapter.

A General Chapter on Fish.

It may seem as if a small number of recipes has been given, but the aim has been to present under the heads of Baking, Boiling, Broiling, Frying and Stewing such general directions that one cannot be at a loss as to how to prepare any kind of fish.

Once having mastered the five primary methods, and learned also how to make sauces, the variety of dishes within the cook’s power is great. All that is required is confidence in the rules, which are perfectly reliable, and will always bring about a satisfactory result if followed carefully.

Fish, to be eatable, should be perfectly fresh. Nothing else in the line of food deteriorates so rapidly, especially the white fish—those that are nearly free of oil, like cod, cusk, etc. Most of the oil in this class centres in the liver.

Salmon, mackerel, etc., have it distributed throughout the body, which gives a higher and richer flavor, and at the same time tends to preserve the fish.

People who do not live near the seashore do not get that delicious flavor which fish just caught have. If the fish is kept on ice until used, it will retain much of its freshness; let it once get heated and nothing will bring back the delicate flavor.

Fresh fish will be firm, and the skin and scales bright. When fish looks dim and limp, do not buy it.

Fish should be washed quickly in only one (cold) water, and should not be allowed to stand in it. If it is cut up before cooking, wash while whole, else much of the flavor will be lost.

For frying, the fat should be deep enough to cover the article, and yet have it float from the bottom. Unless one cooks great quantities of fish in this way it is not necessary to have a separate pot of fat for this kind of frying. The same pot, with proper care, will answer for chops, cutlets, muffins, potatoes, croquettes, etc.

All the cold fish left from any mode of cooking can be utilized in making delicious salads, croquettes, and escallops.

Boiled Fish.

A general rule for boiling fish, which will hold good for all kinds, and thus save a great deal of time and space, is this:

Any fresh fish weighing between four and six pounds should be first washed in cold water and then put into boiling water enough to cover it, and containing one table-spoonful of salt. Simmer gently thirty minutes; then take up.

A fish kettle is a great convenience, and it can be used also for boiling hams.

When you do not have a fish kettle, keep a piece of strong white cotton cloth in which pin the fish before putting into the boiling water. This will hold it in shape.

Hard boiling will break the fish, and, of course, there will be great waste, besides the dish’s not looking so handsome and appetizing. There should be a gentle bubling of the water, and nothing more, all the time the fish is in it. A fish weighing more than six pounds should cook five minutes longer for every additional two pounds.

Boiled fish can be served with a great variety of sauces. After you have learned to make them (which is a simple matter), if you cannot get a variety of fish you will not miss it particularly, the sauce and mode of serving doing much to change the whole character of the dish.

Many people put a table-spoonful of vinegar in the water in which the fish is boiled. The fish flakes a little more readily for it.

Small fish, like trout, require from four to eight minutes to cook. They are, however, much better baked, broiled or fried.

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This preparation gives boiled fish a better flavor than cooking in clear water does. Many cooks use wine in it, but there is no necessity for it.

- Four quarts of water,
- one onion,
- one slice of carrot,
- two cloves,
- two table-spoonfuls of salt,
- one teaspoonful of pepper,
- one table-spoonful of vinegar,
- the juice of half a lemon and
- a bouquet of sweet herbs are used.

Tie the onion, carrot, cloves and herbs in a piece of muslin, and put in the water with the other ingredients. Cover, and boil slowly for one hour. Then put in the fish and cook as directed for plain boiling.


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Boiled Cod with Lobster Sauce.

Boil the fish as directed [see boiled fish], and, when done, carefully remove the skin from one side; then turn the fish over on to the dish on which it is to be served, skin side up. Remove the skin from this side.

Wipe the dish with a damp cloth. Pour a few spoonfuls of the sauce over the fish, and the remainder around it; garnish with parsley, and serve. This is a handsome dish.

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Boiled Haddock with Lobster Sauce.

The same as cod. In fact, all kinds of fish can be served in the same manner; but the lighter are the better, as the sauce is so rich that it is not really the thing for salmon and blue fish.

Many of the best cooks and caterers, however, use the lobster sauce with salmon, but salmon has too rich and delicate a flavor to be mixed with the lobster.

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Cold Boiled Fish a la Vinaigrette.

If the fish is whole, take off the head and skin, and then place it in the centre of a dish.

Have two cold hard-boiled eggs, and cut fine with a silver knife or spoon, (steel turns the egg black). Sprinkle the fish with this, and garnish either with small lettuce leaves, water-cresses, or cold boiled potatoes and beets, cut in slices. Place tastefully around the dish, with here and there a sprig of parsley.

Serve the vinaigrette sauce in a separate dish. Help to the garnish when the fish is served, and pour a spoonful of the sauce over the fish as you serve it.

This makes a nice dish for tea in summer, and takes the place of a salad, as it is, in fact, a kind of salad.

If the fish is left from the dinner, and is broken, pick free from skin and bones, heap it lightly in the centre of the dish, sprinkle the sauce over it, and set away in a cool place until tea time. Then add the garnish, and serve as before.

Many people prefer the latter method, as the fish is seasoned better and more easily served.

The cold fish remaining from a bake or broil can be served in the same manner.

This same dish can be served with a sauce piquanteor Tartare sauce, for a change.

Baked Fish.

As for the boiled fish, a general rule, that will cover all kinds of baked fish, is herewith given:

- a fish weighing about five pounds;
- three large, or five small, crackers,
- quarter of a pound of salt pork,
- two table-spoonfuls of salt,
- quarter of a teaspoonful of pepper,
- half a table-spoonful of chopped parsley,
- two table-spoonfuls of flour.

If the fish has not already been scraped free of scales, scrape, and wash clean; then rub into it one table-spoonful of the salt.

Roll the crackers very fine, and add to them the parsley, one table-spoonful of chopped pork, half the pepper, half a table-spoonful of salt, and cold water to moisten well. Put this into the body of the fish, and fasten together with a skewer.

Butter a tin sheet and put it into a baking pan. Cut gashes across the fish, about half an inch deep and two inches long. Cut the remainder of the pork into strips, and put these into the gashes. Now put the fish into the baking pan, and dredge well with salt, pepper and flour.

Cover the bottom of the pan with hot water, and put into a rather hot oven. Bake one hour, basting often with the gravy in the pan, and dredging each time with salt, pepper and flour. The water in the pan must often be renewed, as the bottom is simply to be covered with it each time.

The fish should be basted every fifteen minutes. When it is cooked, lift from the pan on to the tin sheet, and slide it carefully into the centre of the dish on which it is to be served. Pour around it Hollandaise sauce, tomato sauce, or any kind you like. Garnish with parsley.

Majestic Range A. For Double Mantel Shelf when taken IN PLACE of plain we charge extra, $2.00.

Broiled Fish.

Bluefish, young cod, mackerel, salmon, large trout, and all other fish, when they weigh between half a pound and four pounds, are nice for broiling. When smaller or larger they are not so good.

Always use a double broiler, which, before putting the fish into it, rub with either butter or a piece of salt pork. This prevents sticking.

The thickness of the fish will have to be the guide in broiling. A bluefish weighing four pounds will take from twenty minutes to half an hour to cook.

Many cooks brown the fish handsomely over the coals and then put it into the oven to finish broiling. Where the fish is very thick, this is a good plan. If the fish is taken from the broiler to be put into the oven, it should be slipped on to a tin sheet, that it may slide easily into the platter at serving time; for nothing so mars a dish of fish as to have it come to the table broken.

In broiling, the inside should be exposed to the fire first, and then the skin. Great care must be taken that the skin does not burn.

Mackerel will broil in from twelve to twenty minutes, young cod (also called scrod) in from twenty to thirty minutes, bluefish in from twenty to thirty minutes, salmon, in from twelve to twenty minutes, and whitefish, bass, mullet, etc., in about eighteen minutes.

All kinds of broiled fish can be served with a seasoning of salt, pepper and butter, or with any of the following sauces: beurre noir, maitre d’ hotel, Tartare, sharp, tomato and curry. Always, when possible, garnish with parsley or something else green.

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Broiled Halibut.

Season the slices with salt and pepper, and lay them in melted butter for half an hour, having them well covered on both sides. Roll in flour, and broil for twelve minutes over a clear fire.

Serve on a hot dish, garnishing with parsly and slices of lemon. The slices of halibut should be about an inch thick, and for every pound there should be three table-spoonfuls of butter.

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Broiled Halibut, with Maitre d’ Hotel Butter.

Butter both sides of the broiler. Season the slices of halibut with salt and pepper, place them in the broiler and cook over clear coals for twelve minutes, turning frequently.

Place on a hot dish, and spread on them the sauce, using one spoonful to each pound. Garnish with parsley.

Stewed Fish.

- six pounds of any kind of fish, large or small;
- three large pints of water,
- quarter of a pound of pork, or, half a cupful of butter;
- two large onions,
- three table-spoonfuls of flour,
- salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the heads from the fish, and cut out all the bones. Put the heads and bones on to boil in the three pints of water. Cook gently half an hour.

In the meanwhile cut the pork in slices, and fry brown. Cut the onions in slices, and fry in the pork fat. Stir the dry flour into the onion and fat, and cook three minutes, stirring all the time.

Now pour over this the water in which the bones have been cooking, and simmer ten minutes.

Have the fish cut in pieces about three inches square. Season well with salt and pepper, and place in the stew-pan. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, and strain on the fish. Cover tight, and simmer twenty minutes.

A bouquet of sweet herbs, simmered with the bones, is an improvement. Taste to see if the sauce is seasoned enough, and dish on a large platter.

Garnish with potato balls and parsley. The potato balls are cut from the raw potatoes with a vegetable scoop, and boiled ten minutes in salted water. Put them in little heaps around the dish.


Fried Fish.

All small fish, like brook trout, smelts, perch, etc., are best fried. They are often called pan-fish for this reason. They should be cleaned, washed and drained, then well salted, and rolled in flour and Indian meal (half of each), which has been thoroughly mixed and salted.

For every four pounds of fish have half a pound of salt pork, cut in thin slices, and fried a crisp brown. Take the pork from the pan and put the fish in, having only enough to cover the bottom. Fry brown on one side; turn, and fry the other side.

Serve on a hot dish, with the salt pork as a garnish. Great care must be taken that the pork or fat does not burn, and yet to have it hot enough to brown quickly.

Cod, haddock, cusk and halibut are all cut in handsome slices and fried in this manner; or, the slices can be well seasoned with salt and pepper, dipped in beaten egg, rolled in bread or cracker crumbs and fried in boiling fat enough to cover. This method gives the handsomer dish, but the first the more savory.

Where Indian meal is not liked, all flour can be used.

Serve very hot.

Any kind of fried fish can be served with beurre noir, but this is particularly nice for that which is fried without pork.

When the cooked fish is placed in the dish, pour the butter over it, garnish with parsley, and serve.

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To Cook Salt Codfish.

The fish should be thoroughly washed, and soaked in cold water over night. In the morning change the water, and put on to cook. As soon as the water comes to the boiling point set back where it will keep hot, but will nopt boil.

From four to six hours will cook a very dry, hard fish, and there are kinds which will cook in half an hour. The boneless codfish, put up at the Isles of Shoals, by Brown & Seavey, will cook in from half an hour to an hour.

Where a family uses only a small quantity of salt fish at a time, this is a convenient and economical way to buy it, as there is no waste with bone or skin. It comes in five pound boxes, and costs sixty cents.

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Dropped Fish Balls.

- one pint bowlful of raw fish,
- two heaping bowlfuls of pared potatoes, (let the potatoes be under medium size),
- two eggs,
- butter, the size of an egg, and
- a little pepper.

Pick the fish very fine, and measure it lightly in the bowl. Put the potatoes into the boiler, and the fish on top of them; then cover with boiling water, and boil half an hour.

Drain off all the water, and mash fish and potatoes together until fine and light. Then add the butter and pepper, and the egg, well beaten.

Have a deep kettle of boiling fat. Dip a tablespoon in it, and then take up a spoonful of the mixture, having care to get it into as good shape as possible.

Drop into the boiling fat, and cook until brown, which should be in two minutes. Be careful not to crowd the balls, and, also, that the fat is hot enough.

The spoon should be dipped in the fat every time you take a spoonful of the mixture.

These balls are delicious.

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Common Fish Balls.

- one pint of finely-chopped cooked salt fish,
- six medium-sized potatoes,
- one egg,
- one heaping table-spoonful of butter,
- pepper,
- two table-spoonfuls of cream, or four of milk.

Pare the potatoes, and put on in boiling water. Boil half an hour.

Drain off all the water, turn the potatoes into the tray with the fish, and mash light and fine with a vegetable masher.

Add the butter, pepper, milk and eggs, and mix all very thoroughly. Taste to see if salt enough.

Shape into smooth balls, the size of an egg, and fry brown in boiling fat enough to float them. They will cook in three minutes. If the potatoes are very mealy it will take more milk or cream to moisten them, about two spoonfuls more.

If the fat is smoking in the centre, and the balls are made very smooth, they will not soak fat; but if the fat is not hot enough, they certainly will. Putting too many balls into the fat at one time cools it. Put in say four or five. Let the fat regain its first temperature, then add more.


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Salt Fish with Dropped Eggs.

- one pint of cooked salt fish,
- one pint of milk or cream,
- two table-spoonfuls of flour,
- one of butter,
- six eggs,
- pepper.

Put milk on to boil, keeping half a cupful of it to mix the flour. When it boils, stir in the flour, which has been mixed smooth with the milk; then add the fish, which has been flaked. Season, and cook ten minutes.

Have six slices of toasted bread on a platter.

Drop six eggs into boiling water, being careful to keep the shape. Turn the fish and cream on to the toast.

Lift the eggs carefully from the water, as soon as the whites are set, and place very gently on the fish. Garnish the dish with points of toast and parsley.

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Salt Codfish, in Puree of Potatoes.

- six large potatoes,
- one pint and one cupful of milk,
- two table-spoonfuls of butter,
- a small slice of onion (about the size of a silver quarter),
- one pint of cooked salt codfish,
- salt,
- pepper,
- one large table-spoonful of flour.

Pare the potatoes and boil half an hour; then drain off the water, and mash them light and fine. Add the salt, pepper, one tablespoonful of butter, and the cupful of milk, which has been allowed to come to a boil.

Beat very thoroughly, and spread a thin layer of the potatoes on the centre of a hot platter. Heap the remainder around the edge, making a wall to keep in the cream and fish, which should then be poured in. Garnish the border with parsley, and serve.

To prepare the fish: Put the pint of milk on to boil with the onion. Mix flour and butter together, and when well mixed, add two table-spoonfuls of the hot milk. Stir all into the boiling milk, skim out the onion, add the fish, and cook ten minutes. Season with pepper, and if not salt enough, with salt.

This is a nice dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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Salt Fish Soufflé.

- one pint of finely-chopped cooked salt fish,
- eight good-sized potatoes,
- three-fourths of a cupful of milk or cream,
- four eggs,
- salt,
- pepper,
- two generous table-spoonfuls of butter.

Pare the potatoes and boil thirty minutes. Drain the water from them, and mash very fine; then mix thoroughly with the fish. Add butter, seasoning and the hot milk.

Have two of the eggs well beaten, which stir into the mixture, and heap this in the dish in which it is to be served. Place in the oven for ten minutes.

Beat the whites of the two remaining eggs to a stiff froth, and add a quarter of a teaspoonful of salt; then add yolks. Spread this over the dish of fish.

Return to the oven to brown, and serve.

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Cusk, a la Crème.

- a cusk, cod or haddock, weighing five or six pounds;
- one quart of milk,
- two table-spoonfuls of flour,
- one of butter,
- one small slice of onion,
- two sprigs of parsley,
- salt, pepper.

Put the fish on in boiling water enough to cover, and which contains one table-spoonful of salt. Cook gently twenty minutes; then lift out of the water, but let it remain on the tray.

Now carefully remove all the skin and the head; then turn the fish over into the dish in which it is to be served (it should be stone china), and scrape off the skin from the other side.

Pick out all the small bones. You will find them the whole length of the back, and a few in the lower part of the fish, near the tail. They are in rows like pins in a paper, and if you start all right it will take but a few minutes to remove them.

Then take out the back-bone, starting at the head and working gently down toward the tail. Great care must be taken, that the fish may keep its shape.

Cover with the cream, and bake about ten minutes, just to brown it a little. Garnish with parsley or little puff-paste cakes; or, you can cover it with the whites of three eggs, beaten to a stiff froth, and then slightly brown.

To prepare the cream: Put the milk, parsley and onion on to boil, reserving half a cupful of milk to mix with the flour. When it boils, stir in the flour, which has been mixed smoothly with the cold milk.

Cook eight minutes. Season highly with salt and pepper, add the butter, strain on the fish, and proceed as directed.


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Escaloped Fish.

- one pint of milk,
- one pint of cream,
- four table-spoonfuls of flour,
- one cupful of bread crumbs and
- between four and five pounds of any kind of white fish—cusk, cod, haddock, etc., boiled twenty minutes in water to cover and
- two table-spoonfuls of salt.

Put fish on to boil, then the cream and milk. Mix the flour with half a cupful of cold milk, and stir into boiling cream and milk. Cook eight minutes and season highly with salt and pepper.

Remove skin and bones from fish, and break it into flakes. Put a layer of sauce in a deep escalop dish, and then a layer of fish, which dredge well with salt (a table-spoonful) and pepper; then another layer of sauce, again fish, and then sauce.

Cover with the bread crumbs, and bake half an hour. This quantity requires a dish holding a little over two quarts, or, two smaller dishes will answer.

If for the only solid dish for dinner, this will answer for six persons; but if it is in a course for a dinner party, it will serve twelve. Cold boiled fish can be used when you have it.

Great care must be taken to remove every bone when fish is prepared with a sauce, (as when it is served ala creme, escaloped, &c.), because one cannot look for bones then as when the sauce is served separately.

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Turbot a la Creme.

Boil five or six pounds of haddock. Take out all bones, and shred the fish very fine.

Let a quart of milk, a quarter of an onion and a piece of parsley come to a boil; then stir in a scant cupful of flour, which has been mixed with a cupful of cold milk, and the yolks of two eggs.

Season with half a teaspoonful of white pepper, the same quantity of thyme, half a cupful of butter, and well with salt.

Butter a pan, and put in first a layer of sauce, then one of fish. Finish with sauce, and over it sprinkle cracker crumbs and a light grating of cheese. Bake for an hour in a moderate oven.

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Matelote of Codfish.

Cut off the head of a codfish weighing five pounds.

Remove bones from the fish, and fill it with a dressing made of:
- half a pint of oysters,
- a scant pint of bread crumbs,
- a fourth of a teaspoonful of pepper,
- two teaspoonfuls of salt,
- two table-spoonfuls of butter,
- half an onion,
- an egg and
- half a table-spoonful of chopped parsley.

Place five slices of pork both under and over the fish. Boil the bones in a pint of water, and pour this around the fish.

Bake an hour, and baste often with gravy and butter.

Have a bouquet in the corner of the baking pan. Make a gravy, and pour around the fish. Then garnish with fried smelts.


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Smelts a la Tartare.

Clean the smelts by drawing them between the finger and thumb, beginning at the tail. This will press out the insides at the opening at the gills. Wash them, and drain in the colander.

Salt well, and dip in beaten egg and bread or cracker crumbs (one egg and one cupful of crumbs to twelve smelts, unless these are very large). Dip first in the egg, and then roll in the crumbs.

Fry in boiling fat deep enough to float them. They should be a handsome brown in two minutes and a half.

Take them up, and place on a sheet of brown paper for a few moments, to drain; then place on a hot dish. Garnish with parsley and a few slices of lemon, and serve with Tartare sauce in a separate dish; or, they maybe served without the sauce.

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Smelts as a Garnish.

Smelts are often fried, as for a la Tartare; or, rolled in meal or flour, and then fried, They are used to garnish other kinds of fish.

With baked fish they are arranged around the dish in any form that the taste of the cook may dictate; but in garnishing fish, or any other dish, the arrangement should always be simple, so as not to make the matter of serving any harder than if the dish were not garnished.

Smelts are also seasoned well with salt and pepper, dipped in butter and afterwards in flour, and placed in a very hot oven for eight or ten minutes to get a handsome brown. They are then served as a garnish or on slices of buttered toast.

When smelts are used as a garnish, serve one on each plate with the other fish.

If you wish to have the smelts in rings, for a garnish, fasten the tails in the opening at the gills, with little wooden tooth picks; then dip them in the beaten egg and in the crumbs, place in the frying basket and plunge into the boiling fat. When they are cooked take out the skewers, and they will retain their shape.

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Fish au Gratin.

Any kind of light fish—that is, cod, cusk, flounder, etc. Skin the fish by starting at the head and drawing down towards the tail; then take out the bones. Cut the fish into pieces about three inches square, and salt and pepper well.

Butter such a dish, as you would use for escolloped oysters. Put in one layer of fish, then moisten well with sauce; add more fish and sauce, and finally cover with fine bread crumbs. Bake half an hour. The dish should be rather shallow, allowing only two layers of fish.

Sauce for au gratin:
- one pint of stock,
- three table-spoonfuls of butter,
- two of flour,
- juice of half a lemon,
- half a tablespoonful of chopped parsley,
- a slice of onion,
- the size of half a dollar, and about as thick—chopped very fine, (one table. spoonful of onion juice is better);
- one table-spoonful of vinegar,
- salt,
- pepper.

Heat the butter in a small frying-pan, and when hot, add the dry flour. Stir constantly until a rich brown; then add, gradually, the cold stock, stirring all the time. As soon as it boils, season well with salt and pepper, and then add the other seasoning.

This quantity is enough for three pounds of fish, weighed after being skinned and boned, and will serve six persons if it is the only solid dish for dinner, or ten if served in a course.

Another way to serve fish Au Gratin, is to skin it, cut off the head, and take out the back-bone ; and there are then two large pieces of fish. Season the fish, and prepare the sauce as before.

Butter a tin sheet that will fit loosely into a large baking-pan. Lay the fish on this, and moisten well with the sauce. Cover thickly with bread crumbs, and cook twenty-five minutes in a rather quick oven. Then slip on a hot dish, and serve with tomato, Tartare or Hollandaise sauce poured around the fish.

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Eels la Tartare.

Cut the eels into pieces about four inches long. Cover them with boiling water, in which let them stand five minutes, and then drain them.

Now dip in beaten egg, which has been well salted and peppered, then in bread or cracker crumbs.

Fry in boiling fat for five minutes. Have Tartare sauce spread in the centre of a cold dish. Place the fried eels in a circle on this, garnish with parsley, and serve.

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Stewed Eels.

Cut two eels in pieces about four inches long. Put three large table-spoonfuls of butter into the stew-pan with half a small onion. As soon as the onion begins to turn yellow stir in two table-spoonfuls of flour, and stir until brown.

Add one pint of stock, if you have it; if not, use water. Season well with pepper and salt; then put in the eels and two bay leaves. Cover, and simmer gently three-quarters of an hour.

Heap the eels in the centre of a hot dish, strain the sauce over them and garnish with toasted bread and parsley. If you wish, add a table-spoonful of vinegar or lemon juice to the stew.

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