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FISH COOKERY

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In this post we are going to learn about Methods of fish cookery, and also the classes of fish and preparations! lets Get Started!

There are three classes of fish

Oily fish: oily or fat fishes have the fat distributed all over their bodies eg: all kinds of herrings, mackerel, all kinds of sea bream and salmon

White fish: white or lean fish have most of their fat deposited in the liver and not between the fibres. The oil from the livers of some large fish is extracted and sols for medicinal use, eg: cod-liver oil or halibut-liver oil.

Shellfish: shellfish have a protective covering of shell. There are two kinds:
i.    Crustaceans, eg; crab. Lobster, crayfish, shrimps
ii.    Molluscs, eg snails, oysters, mussels.

Constituents of fish
1.    Protein: fish contains a large proportion of protein; therefore, it is a valuable body-building food. Dried fish has a high food value because it contains weight for weight more protein.
2.    Fat: oily fish is of more value than white fish because the fat, which is rich in Vitamins A and D, is distributed throughout the flesh of oily fish. In white fish the fat is found only in the liver, which is usually disposed of except that of large fish like cod. For this reason, white fish is more readily digested and is more suitable for invalids.
3.    Vitamins: oily fish is rich in vitamins A and D
4.    Water: this is more abundant in white than in oily fish
5.    Mineral matter: calcium is present in the bones of fish and in snails.

Choice of fish
1.    Fresh fish has no unpleasant smell.
2.    The eyes are prominent and bright.
3.    The gills are bright and red
4.    The scales are bright, shining, and plentiful.
5.    The flesh is firm, not flabby and the body is stiff.
Fish is cheapest and best when in season. Buy just what is needed for a short period if no refrigerator is available, because fish decomposes quickly in a hot climate.

Preparing fish for cooking
1.    Cover the table with newspaper or any sheet of clean paper. The paper protects the table, and the scales etc should be wrapped in it.
2.    Handle the fish carefully
3.    Cut off the fins and trim the tail with a pair of scissors kept specially for use in the kitchen. If no scissors are available use a sharp knife, but this tends to damage the flesh if care is not taken.
4.    Remove the scales by scrapping from the tail towards the head with a kitchen knife.
5.    Slit open the underside or belly, starting from the head. Remove the entrails carefully, remove blood and dark skin.
6.    Reserve the roes if any. Wrap entrails and scales up in the paper and dispose them off immediately, as the smell quickly attracts flies.
7.    Wash the fish thoroughly, but do not allow to soak, as soaking  makes it soft.

8.    Rub a little salt on the inside to remove the black skin, rub half a lime all over the fish to remove the fishy smell. Rinse quickly in cold water.
9.    Dry with a cloth. Cut up and season with salt and pepper. Fish may sometimes be cooked whole if they are small.
10.    The head should be thoroughly washed and rinsed because it is slimy. Rub inside with lime.
To filet fish
1.    Scale in the usual way. Cut off the head.
2.    Using a sharp knife cut the flesh down the backbone, cutting as near to the bone as possible. Remove the flesh from one side and then from the other.
3.    Wash fillets quickly, and use as required.
Preparation for dried fish
1.    Wash thoroughly to remove sand or grit
2.    Remove the head and fins
3.    Remove scales or skins
4.    Flake or cut in moderate sized pieces according to the purpose for which it is required.
Methods of cooking fish
Frying:  This is the most popular method of cooking fish. It is tastier and more attractive than fish cooked by other methods, but it is less digestible and therefore it is not suitable for the sick and young children. Fish is usually fried in shallow fat, and the remaining oil, which contains some of the goodness; is used for making the gravy for the fried fish. (Fish fried in large quantities foe sale should be fried in deep fat. This method is quicker and more economical)
    Whenever possible coat fish before frying
a.    To prevent the fish from being in direct contact with the hot oil
b.    To keep the shape of the fish
c.    To conserve the nutrient of the fish.
Coat with:
i.    Seasoned flour i.e, flour to which salt and white pepper have been added, or
ii.    Egg and breadcrumbs or
iii.    Batter
Stewing: this is a common method. Stewed fish is nutritious and more digestible than fried fish because only a little oil is needed. It is economical, as though cuts can be used. It is nutritious because nothing is wasted. As the liquid only simmers there is less likelihood of the fish breaking. The coated fish is fried and some flour is fried in the oil, then the vegetables and water or stocks are added. This is brought to the boil and allowed to simmer till the vegetables are soft. The fried fish is then put in and the stew is simmered until the flavors have been drawn out and the consistency is correct.
Boiling: this is rather wasteful as many of the nutrients are drawn out into the water and lost. The fish is inclined to break. The water, however, can be used as stock for soups, sauces and gravies.
Steaming: this is the most desirable method of cooking fish for the sick. The flavor and goodness are conserved in the fish. Fillets of fish are the best, but small whole fish as well as thin cuts can be used.
Baking: this is not so common method. Whole large fish or rolled filets may be stuffed and baked in a moderate oven.
Grilling or roasting: herrings and other small fish are suitable for this method, but the oil and nutrients escape into the fire though the fish is tasty and attractive when cooked. Fish cooked by this method should be well seasoned.
   
    Recipes for fish
Fried fish
500g fresh fish                    150ml cooking oil
1 large onion                        salt and pepper to taste
2 tomatoes                        1 dessertspoon tomato paste
1.    Prepare the fish. If they are to be fried whole, make a slit on either side of the fish. Season with salt and pepper, pressing in a little ground fresh pepper in the slit.
2.    Heat sufficient oil in a frying pan. Prepare the seasoned flour or any other coating to be used.
3.    When the oil is hot enough, coat each piece of fish with suitable coating and fry. Brown one side and turn on to the other side and brown. Lower the heat and allow to cook through. Avoid turning too often as it breaks the fish.
4.    Remove fried fish and strain the oil to remove burnt pieces.
5.    Fry the ground onion till light brown. Add pepper, tomatoes and salt. Mix a little tomato to paste with water or stock and add to gravy. Allow to cook till the water dries up; the gravy then becomes dry and brown.
6.    Serve separately or spread over the fried fish which has been arranged on a plate or dish.
7.    Serve with suitable accompaniment.

Fish stew 1
        500g fresh fish                2 tomatoes
70ml cooking oil                1 onion
3 garden eggs                    seasoned flour
A little tomato paste                salt and pepper to taste
250ml water or stock                1 dessertspoon flour

1.    Prepare fish and cut into moderate sized pieces. Season
2.    Prepare vegetables according to kind
3.    Heat the oil. When ready, dip pieces of fish in seasoned flour and coat (one at a time). Fry on either side until well cooked and brown.
4.    Cook the flour in the oil until brown, stirring all the time to prevent it from sticking.
5.    Add the onion and fry; add pepper and other vegetables. Add the water and tomato paste and bring to the boil. Add salt. Reduce heat and simmer until garden eggs etc are soft but not broken. At this stage, the consistency will be thick. Add the fried fish carefully. Continue to simmer until the correct consistency is obtained.
A pinch of thyme or mixed spice may be added to improve the flavor.
Fish stew 2
        500g smoked fish                1 onion
1 bunch of greens                3 tablespoons oil
3 tomatoes                    salt and pepper to taste
1.    Wash and flake smoked fish
2.    Wash greens thoroughly to remove all traces of sand. Cut up roughly.
3.    Prepare other vegetables
4.    Heat the oil and fry the flaked fish quickly to seal the goodness. Add the onion and fry together.
5.    Add the tomatoes and pepper and salt. Then place the greens on the top. Cover the pot and allow to simmer. The greens give off sufficient water to cook the other vegetables.
6.    Cook for about 10 minutes over a low heat or until vegetables and fish are tender but not over cooked.
Fried fish with tomatoes
        6 fillets of sole                    brown breadcrumbs
        1 egg                        lemon
        3 tomatoes                    parsley
1.    Prepare fillets. Season with salt and white pepper
2.    Coat with egg and breadcrumbs
3.    Heat the fat and dry the fish to a golden colour. Drain and keep hot
4.    Grill or fry quickly the halved tomatoes make slices of lemon into the shape of lemon butterflies.
5.    Arrange the fish on an oval dish, put tomatoes round the fish and garnish with lemon butterflies and parsley
Stuffed fish steak
        4 steaks of fish                a little margarine
        2 tomatoes                    2 tablespoons milk
        1 slice lemon
        ½ teaspoon chopped parsley            salt and pepper
        4 tablespoons breadcrumbs            mix all the ingredients together.
        Milk or egg                    add sufficient milk to beaten egg to
Grated rind of ¼ lemon            bind
¼ teaspoon dried herbs
1.    Prepare fish steaks (thick, middle cuts of round fish) remove bone.
2.    Season. Put forcemeat in space left by bone and arrange in a greased fire-proof dish. Put a knob of margarine on each
3.    Pour the milk round and cover with greaseproof paper.
4.    Bake in a moderate oven for 20-25 minutes.
5.    Halve the tomatoes and put tem in the oven for 10 minutes before fish is ready.
6.    When cooked garnish with lemon.
Fish cakes
250g cooked fish            2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
250g mashed yam or potato        egg and breadcrumbs
125ml white sauce or 1 egg        a little flour
1.    Remove skin and bone from fish. Flake finely or chop and mix with white sauce or beaten eg, season add mashed yam or potato
2.    Spread the mixture on a plate. Let it cool and divide it into six proportions.
3.    Shape into flat, round cakes using a little flour. Avoid using too much flour or cakes will crack when fried.
4.    Coat with egg and crumbs
5.    Fry in hot oil toll golden brown.
6.    Serve and garnish with sprigs of parsley or tiny leaves of lettuce.
Steamed sole
    1 fillet of sole                    1 tablespoon margarine
    Boiled potatoes or yams            lime juice
1 lemon or lime                250ml fish stock
    1 tablespoon flour                pepper   
1.    Clean and wash the sole. Fillet and remove the dark skin.
2.    Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle lime juice over fish
3.    Steam by either a steamer or between two plates for about 15 minutes
4.    Make a sauce with the fat, flour and stock; add flavouring and pepper and lime juice
5.    Serve the fish with slices of lemon or lime, sauce and potatoes or yam. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Note: filets of bream may be prepared and served as above
Grilled fish
    2 herrings or bloaters                a piece of ginger
    1 lime                        salt
    Ground pepper
1.    Clean and wash the fish. Squeeze on the juice of half the lime-rub it all over and rinse. Dry with a clean cloth.
2.    Season. Smear with the ground pepper and a little ginger. Press pepper into slits. Rub with a little oil
3.    Prepare the fire and grill iron. Heat the iron and place the fish on it
4.    Grill on either side quickly to seal in juices
5.    Grill slowly to ensure thorough cooking
Variation: mix 1 tablespoon groundnut paste with 1 tablespoon juice of lime, ground pepper and salt; smear on seasoned fish before grilling.
Fish for invalids
Fish fillet in milk
Very carefully remove any bones and skin from fillets of sole or bream. Roll them up, season lightly, and put in a basin with 150ml of milk. Cover with buttered greaseproof of paper and steam till fish is white in colour and flakes easily.
    Serve daintily.
Fish puddings
        1 whiting                    2 heaped tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 egg yolk                    parsley sauce or white sauce
2 tablespoons parsley
•    Clean skin and bone the fish. Shred it. Mix with the dry ingredients, add egg and milk, mix well. Put into small well-greased moulds or into a well-greased pie dish. Cover with greased paper and steam for 1 hour. Serve hot with sauce.
Shellfish
Choosing shellfish
1.    Make sure they are absolutely fresh or buy them alive
2.    Choose fish that feel heavy for their size
3.    The shells should be free from incrustations, which indicate old age
4.    Oysters and cookies should be tightly closed when purchased
5.    If fresh when cooked, the tail of a lobster will spring back sharply if it is pulled out straight
6.    The joints of fresh crabs are stiff and the shells is a good colour when cooked
7.    Shrimps and crayfish should be alive, but if they are not active it means they are not fresh
Preparation of shellfish
    If they are brought alive, immerse them in water and bring gradually to the boil
Type of fishes                        boiling time according to size
Lobsters                            20-40 minutes
Crabs                                15-20 minutes
Shrimps                            6-7 minutes
Crayfish                            15-20 minutes
Oysters                            5-6 minutes


Lobsters
1.    Twist the claws and legs and crack each one carefully
2.    Separate the body from the shell and discard the dead men’s fingers’ and stomach
Crabs
1.    Pull sharply to remove the body from the back shell
2.    Discard the small bag or stomach attached to the shell in the head and scrub the shell if it is required
3.    Crack the claws and legs, after pulling them off, to obtain the meat.
Oysters and cockles
1.    Use a sharp, pointed knife to open the shells if necessary, but they usually open up when boiled.
2.    Remove the fish carefully to prevent bits of scales from adhering to the fish.
Shrimps etc
1.    After boiling, remove the shells and save the fish
2.    If they are to be used for garnishing, trim the thin feelers

RECIPES USING SHELLFISH
Dressed crab 1
1.    Prepare the crabs, remove the flesh, keeping the white and dark flesh separate
2.    Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add some mayonnaise, a little vinegar, and some breadcrumbs to the dark flesh.
3.    Pile the white flesh in the centre of the scrubbed shell, open and put the dark flesh on either side
4.    Garnish with lemon and parsley. Serve with salad
Crab salad
1.    Remove the meat from the shell
2.    Season with salt and pepper and add some mayonnaise or salad cream
3.    Arrange lettuce on a glass dish. Put the meat in the centre and garnish with sliced tomatoes, watercress or parsley springs and the crab legs.
Lobsters may be prepared as above and take the appropriate name, eg; dressed lobsters, or lobster salad
Dressed crab 2
2 crabs                5 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon ground pepper                ½ teaspoon ground ginger
         1 tablespoon butter                    ½ teaspoon sat
2 tomatoes                        3 shallots
1.    Clean crabs, boil and pick out flesh. Clean shells
2.    Fry onions and tomatoes in hot melted butter
3.    Add other ingredients, including crab fish. Add water and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Season well
4.    Put mixture in shells and serve hot
Shrimps may be picked and fried in oil. So may small lobsters and small crabs. Sometimes they are added to soup and stews.
Shrimps and crayfish are sometimes dried and ground for adding to gravies and stews to improve their flavor.  

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