There is more art in delicately carving the imperial turbot than any other fish, in order that every one may be supplied with the rich skin and fins, so highly appreciated by epicures. It is always brought to table with the white or under-side uppermost, as this is the most delicate part. The point of the fish-knife must be drawn done the middle to the bone, and from thence deep cuts made at right angles, and the squares, thus made, carefully raised, including the portion of fin attached to each. After the upper part is consumed, the back-bone may be removed, and the lower part divided in the same way, neatly, and without breaking the flakes. Brill, a fish much inferior in quality, but sometimes introduced as turbot, must be carved in the same way.
Next to turbot, a codís head and shoulders is the handsomest dish of fish brought to table. The fish-knife must be passed through the back from 1 to 2, and then transversely in slices. No fish requires more care in helping, for when properly boiled the flakes easily fall asunder, and require a neat hand to prevent the dish looking untidy. With each slice should be sent a portion of the sound, which is the dark lining underneath the back-bone, to be reached with a spoon. Part of the liver may be given if required. The gelatinous part about the eye, called the cheek, is also a delicacy, and must be distributed justly, according to the number of the party.
The best part of a large salmon is a thick piece from the middle. It must be carved by first making an incision down the back, 1 to 2, and a second from 5 to 6; then divide the side 3 to 4, and cut the slices, as preferred, from the upper or thick part, or from the lower richer thin part, or give a little of each. Salmon trout, as it is usually called, haddocks, or large whitings are carved in the same way.
It is usual to split the fish from head to tail, and, if not very large, to serve it in two pieces. Most of the smaller fishes may be carved in this way, if too large to serve whole. In every case, one grand rule in carving fish must be attended toónot to break the flakes, and to help compactly, not in detached fragments.
Original text by George Routledge, edited and revised by D. J. McAdam - this text © 2005. Please note: all applicable material on this website is protected by law and may not be copied without express written permission.
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