Historic Recipe: Fish Roll (1938)

Source: Summer Cookery by Aunt Kate, presented by the People’s Journal (1938)

Another from Aunt Kate – I find her peppy tone and terrible recipe ideas strangely comforting in this time of chaos. Also, I can’t make anything actually nice, like a cake, because I’d have to eat the whole thing on my own.

Take 2lb cold, cooked white fish, flake then rub 3/4lb cooked haricot beans through a sieve fine enough to keep back their skins.

Mix fish and beans together, then add two well beaten eggs, salt and pepper, a little chopped parsley, and 2 tablespoons of anchovy sauce. Work into a smooth paste, form into a sausage shape, put into a greased baking tin, and cook in a moderate oven for ½ hour. Next day slice thinly and serve with a suitable salad.

This recipe seemed to be for a massive amount of fish roll, and I really didn’t think I needed that quantity of beany-fish in my life, particularly when I couldn’t inflict it on anyone else. Consequently, I quartered the recipe. Everything was pretty straightforward, although no one mentioned how hard it is to rub beans through a sieve. Trust me, it is quite hard, quite hard indeed (title of my sex tape?). I cooked the roll at 180oc and that seemed to be about right, let it cool and stuck it in the fridge overnight.

The next day I cut the roll up, it was a bit flaky and thin slices were not achievable (I assume this was because the roll would have been much bigger in its original iteration), but it held together alright. I did not, however, serve it with an Aunt Kate approved salad as instructed, as I didn’t think I could relive the Jellied Surprise Salad incident. The roll was fine, with a not unpleasant texture, but very pallid and very bland.

Suggested alterations: Add some flavour – herbs, spices, whatever you have in the cupboard, just chuck it in. I do also wonder if frying slices up in some butter would help.

Final verdict: I’m distinctly underwhelmed


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