Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thursday's Dinner

I bought fresh cod at the store and figured I'd look up a recipe later. That proved to be a challenge. Cod is a period fish - but it seems it was too common to write much about. For example, I found this:

Freshe Cod. Sauce, Grenesauce.
1575 by William Howe

So, fresh cod, good! But what the heck is green sauce. The original text gives no clues on how to cook the fish or what greensauce is. It's just something to eat on fish days. This mid 16th Century cookbook says the same thing. Cod with greensauce but no additional information. So, I found this:

FRESH COD is prepared and cooked like gurnet with white wine in the cooking, and eaten with yellow sauce; and the salted cod is eaten with butter or mustard.
(1393, Le Menagier De Paris)

So now I know to cook it in white wine. Great! But what the heck is yellow sauce now? Luckily, this guy actually thought to write it down:
Yellow Soup or Yellow Sauce on hot or cold fish. Fry in oil, with no flour, loach, skinned perch or other similar fish, then grind almonds, and mix most of them with wine and verjuice and sieve, and put on the fire: then grind ginger, clove, grain and saffron, and stir with your bouillon, and when the soup has boiled, add your spices; and when serving add sugar, and it should be thick.

So almonds, wine, verjuice (lemons work), ginger, clove, I have no idea what type of grain "grain" is; maybe he meant flour?, saffron, & sugar.

Still, I want to know what the heck green sauce is. I stumbled upon this modern book called Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks By Constance B. Hieatt that takes excerpts from period cookbooks. In it, the lady states that green sauce was common and subject to a huge amount of variety. Which both helps and doesn't at the same time. It means that when I find a recipe for green sauce, I can just leave out stuff and not worry about it too much but it also means that the recipe I'm using might not even be close to the ones the cooks above were thinking of.

Eventually, I found this:
Green Sauce
Tractatus de modo preparandi et condiendi omnia cibaria 394, translated in Redon et al.
"Here is how to make green sauce: take ginger, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, cloves, parsley, and sage. First grind the spices, then the herbs, and add a third of the sage and parsley, and, if you wish, three or two cloves of garlic. Moisten with vinegar or verjuice. Note that to every sauce and condiment salt is added, and crumb of bread to thicken it."
Other variants:

Max Rumpolt, Ein New Kochbuch, 1581
"9. Sauce of green parsley made/ with toasted bread and vinegar ground together/pepper and salt it a little/ so it becomes good and well tasting.

Le Menagier de Paris:
"GREEN SAUCE WITH SPICES. Grind ginger very fine, clove, grain, and take out of the mortar: then grind parsley or allheal, sorrel, marjoram, or one or two of the four, and white breadcrumbs soaked in verjuice, and strain and grind again very fine, then strain again and put it all together and flavour with vinegar."
Forme of Cury, 1390
"Take persel, mynt, garlek, a litul serpell and sauge; a litul canel, gynger, piper, wyne, brede, vyneger; do thereto powdour of gynger and pepper, & the grece of the maulard. Salt it; boile it wel and serue it forth."

Le Menagier de Paris:
"SORREL VERJUICE. Grind the sorrel very fine without the twigs, and soak in old, white verjuice, and do not strain the sorrel, but let it be finely ground; or thus: grind parsley and sorrel or wheat-leaves. Item vine buds, that is those that are young and tender, without any sticks."
Making Medieval Sauces, a class by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa

Another excellent resource on green sauce is found here with a modern redaction and images of the actual medieval recipe and the 18th c transcription.

So which one to make? The easiest is the 1581. Parsley, toast, vinegar, pepper, and salt. Pretty easy. It's also close to the date of the "Fresh Cod with greensauce" mentions above.

But I sort of like the Forme of Cury parsley, mint, garlic, thyme (serpell is creeping thyme), sage, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, wine, bread, vinegar, and salt version too. However, I don't have mint. Well, I might have oil of peppermint but that doesn't have the same flavor. So, maybe everything but the mint? We'll see when I get really hungry. :-)

A half hour later...

I got hungry.

Despite the time it took me to do the research, this recipe is actually very, very quick. It takes 10 minutes to cook the fish and you just prepare the sauce while that's cooking. That's it. And it's pretty yummy. A bit on the sweet side for the sauce but that may have been the vinegar I used. Still, yummy.

1 cup white cooking wine
1 cup water
1 fillet of fish

I heated up the pan full of wine and water first. I waited until it was steaming and put in the fillet. I then covered the pan and started on the sauce. Ten minutes later, the cod was done!

Green Sauce:

Lots and Lots and Lots! of Parsley. I *think* I used about 6 tablespoons.
1/4 of water or there about
1 tablespoon of cooking wine (it's what I had left in the bottle. It probably could have used a bit more)
Piece of the bread I made last night I tore up into bread crumbs. About half a slice
2 tablespoons of honey ginger balsamic vinegar. Probably should have used regular white wine vinegar but I love the balsamic vinegars.
Garlic salt - 2 teaspoons
Thyme - a big pinch
Sage- another big pinch
Cinnamon - about a teaspoon (I gave up on measuring at one point and just put stuff in until it looked good)
1/2 teaspoon of Ginger
1 teaspoon of pepper

I cooked this all up in a saucepot while the fish was cooking. It's more of a dark green/brown color but it's quite good. First time I haven't had to add salt to something for more flavor.

I saved half the fillet and sauce and will probably have it for lunch tomorrow.

The recipe is good, quick, and period! What's not to love?


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