Monday, November 12, 2007

London Salmon.

November 12 …

A salmon was caught in the Thames on this day in 1974 – the first for over 140 years. Salmon are fussy fish – they require clean shallow fresh water for breeding, and clear access to and from their breeding grounds to the open sea where they spend most of their adult lives. Humans have been ingenious in creating salmon-killing pollution and in making rivers more navigable by deepening the shallows and building locks. Over-fishing of the oceans has not helped the salmon’s cause either.

In 1960 a River Thames clean-up program began, and it is making headway. In addition, the Thames Salmon Re-habilitation Scheme began a breeding program to develop salmon which are more suited to the river conditions of the modern age, and have built fish ‘ladders’ to enable the fish to negotiate the upstream weirs en route to their breeding grounds.

We may one day be able to order Thames Salmon again in posh British restaurants. The famous nineteenth century French chef to wealthy English, Louis Eustache Ude believed that Thames Salmon were the finest, although surely they were already becoming rare when he wrote his cookbook (The French Cook) in 1829? This is what he says:

“Thames Salmon is the most esteemed, and sells accordingly. I have occasionally bought it at sixteen shillings per pound, which brings the price of one dish only to more than four pounds. Salmon is served indiscriminately, plain, or as an entree, entremets, &c. Crimped* salmon fetches the highest price, and is the only kind introduced at the table of the true gourmand.”

*Crimping is “to cause (the flesh of fish) to contract and become firm by gashing or cutting it before rigor mortis sets in.”

Ude gives recipes for boiling and broiling salmon, and is dismissive of other methods of cooking it.

“Salmon is cooked in various other ways, for which it is totally unfit. This fish being oily, will not admit of so many varieties. I have seen salmon pies sent to table, petits pates, and scollops of salmon in paper cases, croquettes ditto, and bonne morue, all which dishes are good for nothing ; and the best proof of the truth of this assertion
is, that no one will ever taste them.”

I think we had better stick with his preferred methods of cooking salmon.

Slices of Crimped Salmon with Lobster Sauce.
Boil the salmon quickly in salt and water. Serve up with lobster sauce. Fifteen minutes is sufficient to boil it. If you leave it too long in the water, it loses all its
taste and colour.

Slices of Crimped Salmon broiled, with Caper Sauce.
Marinade your slices of salmon in a little olive oil, with salt and pepper. Three-quarters of an hour before you send up, broil them on a very slow fire, on both sides.
When it is done, take off the skin, and drain it on a clean towel to draw out all the oil. Dish it, and cover it over with the caper sauce. Let it be understood that your gridiron must be put on a slope, with a plafond under the fore-feet to receive the oil, the smoke of which, if it fell into the fire, would spoil the fish, and fill the kitchen with smoke and stench. Cover the slices with caper sauce.

Tomorrow’s Story...

Feeding Evacuated Children.

Quotation for the Day …

Thou canst not serve both cod and salmon. Ada Leverson, on being offered a choice of fish at a dinner party

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

However once they were common as muck. So much so that the 'below stairs' people employed in the houses of the day were granted a small victory when they had 'Must not be fed salmon more thean twice per week'in their contacts.