Pike is not easy to like, full of bones with a muddy reputation. But this recipe from an 1854 edition of The Field will set you on the right track.
A Victorian pike recipe is an obvious place to start a culinary introduction to this coarse fish. A pike recipe doesn’t have the ease and familiarity of our best trout recipes, and your guests might greet the option with all the enthusiasm of a clutch of wet weasels. But the Victorian Fielders took their tuck seriously, and knew more about preparing fish and game than Jamie Oliver or dear Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall combined. When meddling with a pike this method of cooking stands the test of time.
VICTORIAN PIKE RECIPE
We have rootled out this pike recipe from an old copy of The Field written in 1854. The newspaper had been established a year previously, in 1853, and at the time of writing the recipe the war was rattling the Crimea, Victoria was sitting on the throne with Albert cosily ensconced nearby and Cheltenham Ladies College admitted its first pupils.
When you cook a whole pike it requires gutting and trimming. The best pike are those of about 4lb. Any larger and they are too coarse, any smaller and they will prove tasteless.
Due to the terrifying abundance of bones a good way to add pike to your menu is to make it into a fish mousse. But for those keen to cook it whole here is the recipe.
Open your pike, rub him within with salt and claret wine; save the milt, a little of the blood and fat; cut him in two or three pieces and put him in when the water boils; put in with him sweet marjoram, savory, thyme or fennel, with a good handful of salt; let him boil near half-an-hour. For the sauce take sweet butter, anchovies, horse radish, claret wine, of each a good quantity; a little of the blood, shallot, or garlic, some lemon sliced; beat them well together and serve him.