I'm all for an innovative meal but, even for me, sewing a piece of fish up with a needle and thread might just be a step too far.
That's what I found myself doing for this week's forgotten recipe, with a dish that started off so innocuously I thought it was just going to be a nice lunch on my day off. Wrong.
Its title - baked stuffed haddock - might be a little adjective-heavy compared to what we're used to nowadays in an age where in-depth description on menus in fancy restaurants is akin to dropping the f-bomb - but it sounded like there wasn' t going to be anything too surprising in store. Wrong again.
If pushed, how many of us would say a needle and thread were cooking staples? None of us. Yet that's exactly what I found myself using mid-way through making baked stuffed haddock - sewing two bits of slimy fish together with a needle that was too short and skin that was difficult to penetrate. All's fair in love and forgotten recipes though, right?
I began by cleaning my fish. Scientists claimed recently that it is actually less hygienic to wash our raw meat rather than just cooking with it fresh from the packet - which was news to me, as I would never think about washing anything raw in the first place. But in the Glasgow Cookery book it instructs me to wash, so wash I do.
Next, the bread - two ounces and I went for multigrain - had to be soaked in cold butter while I melted the butter. After soaking I wrung the bread out like a seedy flannel which was an odd experience if wringing bread isn't a common fixture in your daily routine. It isn't in mine.
The bread was mixed with the butter, a good shake of chopped parsley (the cook's way to making even a disastrous dish look edible. See: icing sugar for the baker's equivalent) salt and pepper, and an egg.
Being wetter than a Glasgow summer, the stuffing didn't want to play ball. I noticed that it mentioned breadcrumbs in the main ingredients but they weren't actually added in the method anywhere. But wet stuffing was to be the last of my problems as I began to sew my fish with a needle and thread, slippery fingers, and a stinking attitude.
I'm just not sure why it's necessary to sew a piece of fish together with a needle and thread, though a possible reason could have been the tinfoil factor. Where we'd just tightly bind a fish parcel and wrap in tinfoil to keep stuffing in nowadays, I'm not sure that 100 years ago it was an option. After stitching the fish together like some weird pet of Frankenstein, I poured in some of the sloppy stuffing and baked in a dish with dripping.
Taste-wise, it was pleasant. A little claggy due to being cooked in animal fat, and I would've liked a wedge of lemon to wake it up a little, but perfectly adequate. If I didn't need to need to sew it, I might even consider making it again. As it stands, sewing a piece of fish is about as weird and ridiculous as it's possible to be.
Oh, and a word of warning: remove the thread before you eat. Otherwise you'll be left with haddock-flavoured dental floss, which isn't anyone's idea of fun.
Baked stuffed haddock
2 oz dripping
1 oz butter
Milk or egg to bind
Time: 15-20 mins
Over temperature: 350F, No. 4
Position in oven: middle shelf
2. Soak bread in cold water
3. Melt butter
4. Squeeze bread dry and crumb with fork
5. Mix all stuffing ingredients
6. Put stuffing into inside of fish, sew with needle and cotton
7. Heat dripping in oven dish
8. Put fish in dripping, baste with hot fat
9. Serve garnished with parsley