The galreit experiment, number one

A few months ago, I posted a rather strange recipe from Cod Pal Germ 551 for a galreit or gallrien of fish. The text in section one reads:

23 Galantine (galreit) of fish

If you would make galantine of fish of a pike, boil the pike nicely and take off its flesh (prat). Then take honey and set it over the coals and let it boil and take the flesh of the pike and pepper and sugar enough and stir it together, neither too thin nor too thick, so that it can be poured onto a bowl like an electuary. And do not oversalt it.

The parallel in section two reads:

13 (This recipe has no title and is not offset, the paragraph continues with what is clearly a new recipe)

Item, if you would make a galantine (gallrien) of fish of a pike very nicely, you shall boil the pike and remove the flesh (proten) of it, and then take honey and set it over the coals and let it boil. Take the pike’s flesh (prot) and pepper and sugar enough and mix it together and make it neither too thick nor too thin so that it can be poured out onto a bowl like an electuary. Do not oversalt it etc.

Later, I found another garbled parallel in the Königsberg MS:

[[5]] Willtu ein Galhartt von Fischenn:

If you want to make a jelly (Galhartt) of fish

Take a pike and boil it well and remove its flesh (Gebrett) and take Lauck (lye?) and place it on the coals and let it boil and …. the flesh and put into it … and (add?) enough sugar and mix it well so that it is neither too thick nor too thin and can be poured like an electuary. Put it into a serving bowl.

I am still convinced that Lauck is a copyist’s error. On that assumption, I decided this recipe was worth trying out, and today I was finally able to do run a first experiment

For purely financial considerations, I used trout instead of pike. I poached the fish in lightly salted water and removed the flesh from skin and bones. About a cup of flaked fish went into the galreit (the rest was used in another experiment). Quantities are hard to gauge, but I expected the fish to break up and almost dissolve in the honey, so I opted for half a cup of honey to go with it. Having brought it to a full boil and seasoned it with about half a teaspoon of ground black pepper, I added the fish.

Flaked trout boiling in honey

After about ten minutes of boiling, the flakes had disintegrated, but not dissolved. The honey seemed to draw out the moisture and actually firm up the fragments. The whole thing really began to look like a medicinal electuary. After another five minutes, I took it off the stovetop and poured it into a bowl.

The galreit

If I was aiming for an electuary, that was too early. It stayed almost liquid, though it formed up nicely along the top where much of the fish concentrated. I considered returning it to the pot, but in the end I decided against it. This concoction was not what I had expected. It had a rich, intensely sweet umami flavour and the pepper did not come out much at all. I am not sure what it is supposed to be, but I suspect that if it was boiled for longer, it may actually become something like a candy. We ate it as a sauce and it was delicious.

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