More than six months ago, I began this hobby of researching and cooking vintage recipes in earnest. This is the very first recipe I tried.
Curried fish dates to late 18th century England. This recipe is from “The Virginia Housewife”, written by Mary Randolph, and published in 1838. Randolph, by the way, was the first person to be buried at Arlington. Her cookbook includes recipes from all over the world.
As I’ve said before, curry was a popular spice in the vintage kitchen. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can use almost any type of white fish-whiting, tilapia, cod, perch… they all work! Randolph like to use catfish. Here is the original recipe:
Take the white channel catfish, cut off their heads, skins and clean them, cut them in pieces four inches long, put as many as will be sufficient for a dish into a stew pan with a quart of water, two onions, and chopped parsley; let them stew gently till the water is reduced to half a pint, take the fish out and lay them on a dish, cover them to keep them hot, rub a spoonful of butter into one of flour, add a large tea-spoonful of curry powder, thicken the gravy with it, and pour it over the fish; be careful to have the gravy smooth.
One note of caution: this recipe only makes about three servings, so be sure to double it if you are feeding more people. Here is the modern version:
• 1 pound of boneless fish, cut into chunks
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• Two handfuls of fresh parsley roughly chopped or one handful of dried parsley
• Three cups of water or chicken broth
• One to two tablespoons of curry powder, depending on your preference
• Four tablespoons of butter or olive oil, divided
• Three tablespoons of flour
• Salt and pepper to taste
Put half the butter or oil into a pot and sauté the onions and parsley until the onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the fish and the broth or water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, about 10-12 minutes, until fish is cooked.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish (you’ll get a lot of the onions too, and that’s okay) and place into covered dish. Set aside.
Bring the remaining liquid back to a boil and cook about 15 minutes, reducing the liquid as much as possible.
In a small bowl, make a roux with the rest of the butter or oil and flour. If you use butter, melt it first. Whisk the two together until the mixture is golden and smooth, about two minutes. Add the curry powder and mix thoroughly.
Add the curry and butter mixture to the hot liquid and bring it all up to a boil again. Stir until thickened. Take the gravy off the heat and stir the fish back in. Cover and let the flavors combine for a few minutes. Serve over rice.
My daughter’s love this dish for dinner-but of course, they’re fans of curry. It’s an easy and inexpensive dish and low in calories. Enjoy!