I have a final (for the time being) interesting extract from The Chicago Herald Cooking School: A Professional Cook's Book for Household Use (1883, by Jessup Whitehead) as a jumping-off point for today. The intriguing, if a little frustrating (on account of the lack of attribution), section called Cook’s Scrap Book includes this short paragraph:
In Norway, where fish is prepared with much ingenuity in many ways, they make flour of the flesh of the fish ground to powder. It is used instead of rice and potatoes, and the biscuits made from it are said to be extremely nutritious.
The search for more information on fish ‘bread’ led me first to a book published in 1840 by R.G. Latham, ‘a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge’, called Norway and the Norwegians (1840.) The author writes:
First catch your fish, then dry the flesh, then pound it to a fine flour, and with this fish-flour make a pudding. There are worse things in the world than a fish-pudding.
I may give you some more of M. Latham’s impressions of Norwegian cuisine next week, but today I will stick to fish flour and its uses.
The obvious source for information on nineteenth century views of some of the stranger (to the British) food habits of other cultures is the classic text The Animal Food Resources of Different Nations (1885) by Peter Lund Simmons. Simmonds even provides our recipe for the day, but if you want to make your own fish-flour biscuits at home, you may need to scale it down somewhat:
Several northern nations possess the art of preparing fish in a variety of ways unpractised in Europe, such as in the form of flour, bread, etc. Sir John Richardson mentions that a very good bread may be made from the roe of the pollack (Pollachius carbonarius) and of the methy, and this is used in the fur countries as tea bread. A kind of fish flour or powder is made from the stock-fish in Norway, which has a high nutritive value. It may, therefore, when compressed into the form of biscuits realise, under certain circumstances, the problem sought by armies in the fleld, of having the largest amount of nourishment in the smallest compass and least weight. There are at present two houses which make this fish-flour at the Lofoden Islands, but the manufacture is likely to extend. About 2,000 packages of fish flour (of 2 lbs. each) were made at the factory of Llyngvær, Norway, in 1876, and 2,424 packages in 1877. Crackers of fish-meal made by Mad. Rosing, Christiania, were shown at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876.
The biscuit is made in Norway out of this fish-flour in the following manner: — 500 grammes of the dry fish-flour are mixed with three litres of water, and 4 ½ pounds of oatmeal are added and all well kneaded. The paste is then rolled out and cut into squares and cakes. These are pierced with holes and dried in an oven, but not at a suffciently high temperature to cook or bake them. They should be turned several times while in the oven. From the experience of M. Rosing, Professor of Agricultural Chemistry at the Royal model farm at Aas, it results that these biscuits are very nutritious, being four times richer in albuminoid principles than beef, four and a half times than fresh cod, and six times richer than milk or rye bread. And it has also the advantage of being very rich in phosphates. The Siberians also bake bread with a meal formed by grinding down the dried remains of fish.