New Seafood Cookbook Now Available: Explore 5 Centuries of Seafood

Before I started this blog, I had a larger project that had consumed me for over a year. Finally, my historic seafood cookbook is finished and available on Amazon! It is called From Head to Tale: Historic Seafood Recipes Through the Ages and at over 300 pages, is by far, the biggest work in my fledgling writing career.

My background is in cultural anthropology and maritime history and for the last year and a half I have worked on this book that combines my interests. My seafood cookbook compiles over 400 historic seafood recipes that gives a glimpse into how Western civilization has prepared fish and shellfish over a 500-year period. Here is a bit from the back cover:

From Head to Tale explores five centuries of Western seafood history through recipes compiled from European and North American cookbooks. Learn which species of fish and shellfish have remained popular through the centuries. See how ingredients, cooking methods and even recipe formats evolved over time. From timeless classics to forgotten Medieval dishes, From Head to Tale will reveal of trove any seafood lover will enjoy.

Seafood Cookbook Haddock Farci
Haddock Farci – 1914

After searching through dozens and dozens of historic cookbooks, I compiled the recipes based upon the most popular fish found throughout the centuries and then listed them chronologically. Each chapter begins with information on the species, a brief history of its use and alternative species that can be used in the recipes. I have also included many vintage seafood advertisements and artwork scattered throughout the book. My hope is that From Head to Tale can be used not only as a seafood cookbook, but also as a work on food history.

Another hope is that any proceeds from the seafood cookbook can be used to buy product from various sources to attempt some of these recipes. For example, I would like to buy some fish online so I can inform my readers about the experience. And what better way to prepare it than a recipe from 17th century England?

A Sample from the Seafood Cookbook

Matelote of Soles Norman Fashion (1846 )

Skin and clean the sole; place it on some pieces of butter, on a slice in a fish-kettle, and add some sprigs of parsley, one of thyme, a sliced onion, a glass of white wine, and as much water or bouillon; with salt, pepper, nutmeg, twelve oysters, twelve muscles, taken out of the blanched shells; some pieces of truffles, if you like, for this dish is a kind of macedoine. 

Cover the fish-kettle, and let the whole stew for about three quarters of an hour; then take out the sole, put it into a dish that will stand the fire; lay under the fish some small pieces of butter, and around it the oysters, and muscles; pour over it a German sauce made as follows:

Stew gently in a saucepan with butter some trimmings of veal, ham, or bacon, without letting them brown; put in half a spoonful of flour; move it about; add a little bouillon, an onion sliced, carrot, pepper, nutmeg, a bay leaf, very little if any salt; boil together, and strain this cullis twice, and add to it if necessary a portion of court bouillon from the reduced liquor.

Thicken it to a sauce with the yolks of two eggs, and pour it over the fish which garnish with truffles, fried bread, in circular pieces, mushrooms passed in a saucepan over the fire, with the juice of a lemon, and some fresh butter, and six gudgeons, or six smelts, covered with breadcrumbs and fried.

Finish the cooking by placing a little fire in the lid over the dish; take care that all be kept as white as possible in the sauce, as well as in the garnish. Serve very hot.

The receipt for this dish has not appeared in any other work. The name of Normandy Sole is given to it from the soles taken on the coast of Normandy being the most esteemed. You may also make a matelote Normande not only by omitting part of the garnish above specified but also with other fish such as slices of turbot or brill.

From Head to Tale, my new historical seafood cookbook is in paperback and available on Amazon for $19.99. The Kindle version is $5.99. If you like it, feel free to leave a comment below or, even better, a review on Amazon!