Cod skull, sole, carp, trout, perch, eel or flounder
1/2 pint claret or port wine
1 qt beef broth, stock or consommé
1 large onion
12 black peppercorns
12 allspice, whole
Whole cloves or blades of mace
Essence of anchovy
When the fish has been properly washed, lay it in a stew-pan, with half a pint of claret or port wine, and a quart of good gravy; a large onion, a dozen berries of black pepper, the same of all spice, and a few cloves, or a bit of mace; cover the fish-kettle close, and let it stew gently for ten or twenty minutes, according to the thickness of the fish; take the fish up, lay it on a hot dish, cover it up, and thicken the liquor it was stewed in with a little flour, and season it with pepper, salt, essence of anchovy, mushroom catchup, and a little Chili vinegar; when it has boiled ten minutes, strain it through a tamis, and pour it over the fish; if there is more sauce than the dish will hold, send the rest up in a boat. .
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: This is a straightforward fish soup, and misses being a chowder only for lack of a thickening/stretching ingredient like potatoes or crushed crackers. The complication comes in the flavoring agents: “essence of anchovy” is rather complicated but one can substitute anchovy paste, often available in convenient squeeze tubes in better supermarkets or gourmet shops. Chili vinegar is easily made by depositing a whole or split chili pepper in a bottle of cheap vinegar and letting it soak for hours, days or such time as needed to extract the desired level of chili-ness.
Mushroom catchup is the tricky one of the lot, virtually unobtainable today unless you make your own which is a lengthy job indeed. As Dr. Kitchiner gives us no indication as to how much to use, the modern cook may substitute as seems proper or omit the item altogether.
A tamis is a very fine strainer. If one is not available a doubled piece of cheesecloth or muslin should serve the purpose admirably.
We should probably point out that this was originally titled by Dr. Kitchiner as “To stew a Cod’s Skull, Sole, Carp, Trout, Perch, Eel or Flounder” but that was both a tad lengthy and also seemed likely to put off potential readers due to the “ick” factor involved.