This is a dish that my Mom always had on the table for Christmas Eve.
Fish was delivered before Christmas to our village by a fisherman in the area. I remember people picking out whole frozen fish from the back of his truck, ie Jack Fish, Pickerel and White Fish.
The fish was cleaned and cut into pieces. The whole fish was used for the broth including the head. The stock pot was filled with water and to this was added chopped celery, onion, chopped parsley, a bay leaf, salt and peppercorns. Although, Jack Fish has lots of bones, it was the best for the broth to gel. Once the fish was cooked, the fish was taken out, the bones and skin were removed and the cooked fish was placed in a dish or mold The broth was then strained through muslin to assure a very clear broth. Adjust the seasonings before pouring into the mold.
My Mom liked to add julienne carrots and celery to the mold. The fish is chilled, then flipped over on to a bed of lettuce, decorated with lemon slices. Truly a beautiful dish!
The recipe I share is my memory of my Mom making this dish for Christmas Eve.
A mixture of vegetables were chopped up and added first to the stock pot
- parsley chopped
- chopped onion
- bay leave
After preparing this dish this year, I realized that my Mom used carrots only a garnish. As I have found out in making turkey gravy, carrots add sweetness that I do not like. Also the carrots take away from the clarity of the broth. Something that my Mom was most particular about!
Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Skim the foam. Reduce to simmer as soon as it comes to boil and simmer until fish fork tender.
Carefully lift the pieces of fish from the broth. Remove the the bones and place in a mould. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth so that it is clear. Taste for seasoning. There should be enough gelatine from the fish bones but;
1-2 packages of plain gelatine* can be soaked in 1/3c cold water.
Mix gelatine with hot broth
Pour over fish and chill.
*gelatine is collagen in the skin, bones, and connective tissue of an animal which breaks down into gelatine. For the purists at heart, skip this step but if you use fish pieces, it will not jell! On the plus side, it does make a delicious fish soup aka bouillabaisse.
I did make two dishes and did freeze both for Christmas Eve.