Tudor Fryed Fishe

I might mess about with some historical recipes to make them more friendly to the modern cook but when they're as simple - and delicious - as this, you really don't need to. 

Some context: by the time A Proper Newe Boke of Cokery first slid off the creaky printer's press in 1545, Henry VIII had broken with Rome, established himself as head of the church in England and uttered solemn wedding vows to all of his six wives. 1545 itself wasn't a great year for Henry. He buried his long-term friend, brother-in-law and politician Charles Brandon and saw the sinking of his prized (and recently renovated) warship The Mary Rose in the Solent. It was also, incidentally, the year that Lord Darnley, future husband to Mary Queen of Scots, was born within the red-bricked walls of Temple Newsam house in Yorkshire. 

Back then, fish was quite a big part of the Tudor diet, especially for the higher classes who could afford different varieties of seafood, but mainly because of the rules that surrounded the religious days and festivals. On 'Fish Daies' platters and boards would have been piled up with species such as plaice, tench, eels, whiting, cod, herring and salmon. This recipe is such a simple and delicious one that many upmarket restaurants cook fish in exactly the same way today. 

Try this dish with plaice, bass, bream or haddock, although the author is clear that salmon 'be never fryed but baken, boyled, roosted or sodden.'

Tudor Fryed Fishe
Serves 2

1 tsp olive oil
2 skin-on plaice fillets (or other white fish), as fresh as possible
1 tsp salted butter
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley


Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently lower in the fish, skin side down. 

Allow to fry and sizzle gently for a few minutes, until you see the fish turning opaque up the sides of the fillet and the skin getting crispy.

Flip over the fish and cook for a minute or two to finish cooking on the other side. Transfer to a plate.

In the pan you fried the fish, quickly melt the butter and throw in the parsley. Let the parsley fry for a few seconds in the butter, being sure not to let it burn, and then pour the hot herby butter over the fried fish fillets.

Notes: I've used the online version of A Proper Newe Boke of Cokery here

Have you made this? Tell me about it and tag me on Instagram @lovebritishhistorypics - I'd love to see! 

You might also like: A Tudor Breakfast, Tudor Stuffed Eggs and this recipe for making your own Marchpane... find more recipes here

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