Week 7 - Fish Salad

Our original plans for this week called for a whole stuffed, roasted cod. Delicious right? We thought so too. But that was last February, when spending the day standing in front of a roaring fire seemed like a perfectly sensible (even desirable) thing to do. But now? Not so much.

In fact, given the current weather, asking Lori and Krista to spend a week tending a fire while dressed in wool might be in violation of the workplace health and safety code! As a result, we’ve decided to scale things back a bit and replace the whole roasted cod with something quicker, lighter and fresher .... Fish Salad.

  Above: The Fish Stall , Frans Snyders (1579-1657) from the collection of the National Museum of Warsaw.

Above: The Fish Stall, Frans Snyders (1579-1657) from the collection of the National Museum of Warsaw.

This recipe is courtesy of Francois Massialot’s Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois first published in 1691 (which also provided the recipe for the French version of Creme Brulee in Week 5). And while the thoughts of Fish Salad might not set your mouth to watering, it must have been a pretty good dish, for Massialot's recipe was still in circulation nearly a hundred years later. In 1773, it shows up in an American cookbook by John Townsend called The Universal Cook under the title A Particular Sauce called Ramolade:

This sauce being proper for several sorts of fish cut into fillets, or thin slices, is made of parsley, chibbols (chives), anchovies, and capers, all chopped small, and put into a dish with oil, vinegar, a little salt, pepper and nutmeg, well tempered together; after the fillets are dressed, this Ramolade is usually turned over them, and sometimes juice of lemon is added when they are served up cold.

A couple of notes before you get cooking....

First, Massialot suggests the ramolade may be served with a variety of fish or seafood including cod, sole, turbot, brill, oysters, smelt, trout, salmon, ray, whiting, weeverfish, tuna, anchovy, lobster, crayfish "and others". So pretty much anything you can get your hands on will do.

Second, if you’re like us and live in rural Newfoundland, or rural lots of places for that matter, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t find capers or anchovies on the shelves of your local convenience store. Not to worry. We’re guessing Ferryland’s first residents also ran into this problem from time to time, so substitutions are totally acceptable. Green olives, pickled onions, and fresh thyme can all be used instead of capers. Even dill pickles will work in a pinch. Substitutes for anchovies include Worcestershire Sauce, miso, and seaweeds including sea lettuce (dulse) and kelp (nori). Bonus points for anyone who wades out and harvests their own. HA! Using any of these substitutions will mean the taste of your final dish won’t be exactly the same as the original, but it should give you a general impression of how the 17th century dish would have tasted.

Our modern recipe comes, once again, from Christianne Muusers’ fantastic website Coquinaria and goes like this:

Ingredients

For the fish

  • 350 grams (¾ pound) fish fillets
  • white wine vinegar
  • water

For the sauce

  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 Tbsp capers, drained and chopped
  • 2 or 3 salted anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp extra version olive oil 
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • pepper, salt and nutmeg to taste
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Step 1

Combine the olive oil and vinegar in a jar. Shake until mixed. Add remaining ingredients and shake again.

Step 2

Sprinkle the fish fillets with salt. Rinse them after fifteen minutes and pat them dry.

Step 3

Poach the fish fillets in vinegar and half as much water (vinegar:water = 2:1); use as much liquid as needed to just submerge the fillets. Make sure the liquid does not boil, and take the fillets out as soon as they are done.

Step 4

Let the fish fillets drain on paper towel. You can also poach an entire fish and fillet it afterwards.

To Serve

Arrange the cold or still warm fish fillets on a dish. Shake or beat the sauce once more and scoop some of the sauce over the fish. Serve with bread.

Easy peasy, right? Remember to post of photo of your Fish with Ramolade on the Colony of Avalon’s Facebook page for your chance to win our weekly and grand prizes. Up for grabs this week? Fontignac’s 12-Piece fish cutlery set .... 'cause come on, who DOESN'T need a fish cutlery set!

Deadline is midnight, Wednesday, August 15. Happy cooking!

  This week's prize ... a 12-piece fish cutlery set. Sure to impress at your next dinner party!

This week's prize ... a 12-piece fish cutlery set. Sure to impress at your next dinner party!

Jane Severs1 Comment