Lent has traditionally been tied to the consumption of seafood and was once part of a series of fasts in the Catholic calendar that forbade meat (with exceptions) for up to 200 days a year. Salt cod and herring were eaten by all ranks, along with any other protein that was allowed in these “lean” times, from carp to sturgeon and everything in between.
Times have changed of course, but Lent is still the busiest time of year for our hometown Gorton’s of Gloucester. And many of us Sicilian-Americans still celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph with a meatless feast centered around a traditional pasta dish featuring fava beans, chickpeas and fennel. We always had some sort of fish as well, fried baby whitings, shrimp or squid were the usual. You don’t need to be Catholic, but Lent can be time well spent for anyone trying to add more seafood to their diet. 40 days to try a world of delicous fish and shellfish before the warmer months.
In order to kick off Lent I’m offering the kindle edition of my historic seafood cookbook: From Head To Tale for only 99 cents. It is over 300 pages of fish and shellfish recipes ranging from the 15th-20th centuries and includes several traditional fast-day (maigre) meals, ideal for a lenten supper.
The special runs from March 2-9 and is only for the Kindle version. Try a new twist on Lent this year with some old ways of preparing fish!
Here is a sample recipe from the chapter on cod:
Cod Sounds to Look Like Small Chickens – 1840
A good maigre-day (fast day) dish. Wash three large sounds nicely, and boil in milk and water, but not too tender; when cold, put a forcemeat of chopped oysters, crumbs of bread, a bit of butter, nutmeg, pepper, salt, and the yolks of two eggs: spread it thin over the sounds, and roll up each in the form of a chicken, skewering it; then lard them as you would chickens, dust a little flour over, and roast them in a tin oven slowly. When done enough, pour over them a fine oyster-sauce. Serve for side of corner dish.