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 Posted: Sun Feb 16th, 2014 12:48 am
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Hellcat
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Well tried another recipe out of Civil War Recipes edited by Lily May Spaulding and John Spaulding. This time the fish fritters recipe. From pages 124-125

Fish Fritters
1865

Take the remains of any fish which has been served the preceding day, remove all the bones, and pound it in a mortar, add bread crums and mashed potatoes in equal quantities. Mix together half a teacupful of cream, with two well-beaten eggs, some Cayenne pepper and anchovy sauce. Beat all up to a proper consistency, cut it into small cakes, and fry them in boiling lard.


Ok, so first of all I made some substitutions, other items were left out, and I didn't exactly follow the recipe that well. The first element here is the fish, I like canned sardines and happened to have a can on hand. Actually, the idea for the recipe started with last night's with boiled potatoes as an accompaniment to the main dish. Still had some left over and I realized had some fish (canned sardines, some smoked trout fillet, some frozen pollock fillets, some canned mackerel). I'd been seeing the fish fritters recipe for a while and never actually wanted to bother boiling potatoes to make some mashed potatoes for tis recipe. But with left over potatoes from last nights dinner I decided I was going to try this, and because it says any fish I decided I'd try making it with canned sardines.

So the first step was to open the can of sardines, drain them, and rinse them. I then made sure to remove the vertebrae from the sardines (to be honest I would have done that anyway as even though at that size you can supposedly eat the bones no problem it's never been my cup of tea). Instead of pounding it in a mortar I just though it in a bowl and mashed it extremely fine with a fork. I then added a couple of boiled potatoes and mashed them into the fish. Not having any breadcrumbs on hand I took some unseasoned stuffing bread cubes and through them into the mortar to pound them into much finer crumbs. This was added to the mix.

Now I think I really started deviating from the recipe at this point. As I read it now I think I was supposed to mix the cream, Cayenne, anchovy sauce, and beaten egg together and then mix it into the fish mix. Not having cream on hand, I used a little milk. Yes, I know, not exactly the same as cream. As I said, I made some substitutes. The milk went right into the mix followed by on unbeaten jumbo egg. I actually was looking at the consistency when I added the egg as I didn't want it to be too dry or too liquidly. And I figured if the consistency didn't look just right I'd add a second egg. I mixed the milk and egg in well then added some Cayenne. As I don't have anchovy sauce on hand (am at this point neither know how it would have been made nor am sure I want anchovy sauce) I did not add it.

In my fridge there is a jar of bacon grease. When bacon is made up around here we like to save any excess grease and use it either in recipes themselves or to fry in. So I got out enough for frying the fritters in a little boiling grease. I then took a little of the mixture in a ball and flattened it out, placing it in the pan. I proceeded to make several patties in this manner and place them in the fry pan as there was room an fried them up in the grease, flipping them to get a nice brown on each side.

Now time for the tasting. Would I do this again? Absolutely, but then keep in mind that I like sardines. As I said already. The flavor was a bit of sardine, naturally. I'd imagine the flavor would changed based on the type of fish used and it's preparation prior to making this dish. I did have some problems with it though. First, I didn't get the Cayenne mixed in as well as I thought and one of the fritters had a serious pocket of Cayenne to it. That lit up my mouth, ended up having to drink a bit of milk for that. Another was a slightly salty flavor which I think came from the bacon. Actually, the slightly salty flavor wasn't a problem in and of itself, the problem was tat I didn't always get that flavor in each bite and I kinda wish I did. It did leave me wondering if an anchovy sauce would have salt to it. I try this again, I might want to add just a little salt because those bites with it were more pleasant than those without. I've made both salmon croquets and tuna croquets my way and the use of mashed potato makes this even more distinct from either of those.

Now there is a note in the book on anchovies that might have me looking at the possibility of doing anchovy sauce when (not if but when) I try this recipe again. On page 139 is a recipe for chicken puffs that calls for anchovy. The note for this recipe says that the anchovy in question may have been uncured herring and not anchovy anchovy. However the note also states that Thomas Jefferson is said to have imported anchovies from Italy so both styles were known in the country by 1865. There is a cooking site I visit that talks about the anchovies used in the Nordic nations actually being a sardine-like sprat rather than genuine anchovy. So I might be more likely to consider this anchovy or even uncured herring for an anchovy sauce. The problem is, how do I make anchovy sauce. I mean I can find a recipe for Harvey Sauce from 1832 that calls for anchovy and an anchovy catchup from 1839. Would these be the anchovy sauce this recipe calls for? Don't know, but I do intend to make this again.

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