Rumpolt on cooking Plateissen

I will be quite busy the coming week and do not expect to be posting much, so here is a set of recipes from Rumpolt to keep you busy. They are for the dried flatfish that were known and widely disliked under the name of plateissen:

Dreught Fisch, dried soles prepared in Finkenwerder to this day, image courtesy of wikimedia commons

Of Plateissen or Halbfischen, eight dishes are made

1 Cooked in a white sauce with parsley root, pea broth, and butter, also with mace, pounded ginger, parsley that is cut small, and a little browned flour (eyngebrennt Mehl), let it boil with that, thus it will turn out good and well-tasting.

2 Plateiß in sauce. Take green pease that are shelled (? außgehoelet), pea broth, and butter. Also add browned flour and let it boil with that, thus it will turn out good and well-tasting.

3 Take Plateissen, set them to cook in water with a little salt and let them boil up. Serve them dry and brown them with hot butter. Strew ginger and salt or finely cut parsley over them, thus it is pretty and good.

4 Green Plateiß prepared with gooseberries. Take the Plateissen and boil them with salt and serve them dry. Take gooseberries, a little wine, and fresh butter, and let that boil together. Add a little pounded ginger and pour it over the Plateissen, thus it will turn out good and well-tasting.

5 Plateiß served with mustard. When they come from the sea and are boiled in salted water, take mustard and butter, let it boil up with that (together) and pour it over the Plateiß, thus they will turn out good and well-tasting.

6 You can also serve fresh fried Plateiß with mustard or with sour lemon juice squeezed over them, and cut in broad slices, thus they also turn out good. You can also take fresh Plateiß and boil them in pure butter, and when you serve them, put mustard on them.

7 When the Plateiß are dried and well watered, wash them and set them on the fire with water. Let them boil with that, cool them, and remove their bones, thus they will turn out nicely white. Also remove the black skin. Place them in a fish kettle that is tinned and add butter and a little pea broth. Let it boil with that , thus it turn out good and well-tasting.

8 If you want to water Plateissen, soak them in rainwater for the first day or two. Then prepare a lye of rain water and add unslaked lime that is white. Thus the Plateissen will rise (aufflauffen) a finger thick. Let them lie in it for one day or two, and when they have risen, wash them out in six or seven waters. Afterwards, let them stand in fresh water again for a day or two and wash them six or seven times each day. Thus they become all the whiter and the smell (geschmack) is removed. Thus the Plateissen are prepared if they are to be cooked, either for serving with mustard or for frying.

Dried flatfish seem to have been a common food in the sixteenth century and are frequently mentioned, including as garrison supplies for soldiers and as household stores. Recipes are not found very often, though. This is an interesting collection, not least because Rumpolt does not think highly of dried fish in general.

Today, dried flatfish are typically associated with Russian cuisine, but there is a surviving tradition of preparing them all along the North and Baltic seas. The most prominent exponent in Germany is Dreught Fisch, a specialty of Finkenwerder near Hamburg. These are now typically small fish that are eaten uncooked, as a snack, but also used as a cooking ingredient. Large flatfish are more typically hot-smoked or cooked fresh. Back in the sixteenth century, absent refrigeration, they would also have been preserved for export.

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