The Wartime Kitchen and Day Five – Ration Book Fish on Friday:
Devilled Fish Recipe
Today is day five of my wartime ration book cooking challenge, and it’s Friday, which means it has to be fish on Friday. We may not all follow the traditional fish on Friday menu plan nowadays, such a shame I think, but families would have still tried to eat fish on Friday during the war, despite the scarceness of fish as the war progressed. Fish and chips were NOT on ration during the war, and when there was fish available, there were long queues to the “chippie” as soon as the sign “frying tonight” was displayed in the fish and chop shop windows. Those who lived in coastal areas were luckier, as there were still some small boats that had not been requisitioned for wartime duty *(see below), and they would still go out fishing; thus, fish was undoubtedly easier to obtain in traditional fishing ports than in the country, towns or cities. Tinned fish was popular (available with points), as were fish cakes (90% potato!) and preserved fish such as soused herrings and mackerel. In fact, herrings were fairly prolific throughout the war, and many Ministry of Food leaflets were aimed towards herring recipes. Smoked fish may seem to be a luxury today, but due to its long shelf life after smoking, smoked fish was also popular, especially smoked haddock. My mum remembers a favourite supper dish of smoked haddock in milk, in to which fingers of bread were dipped to mop all the precious juices up with.
The history of fishing trawlers during WW2 is a fascinating one, and although most of us know about the important role that Atlantic convoys contributed throughout the war in order to get supplies to our island nation, not much is known about the bravery of the fishermen and their trawlers, who were called up and entered into Royal Naval Patrol Service. In my research to discover the vital role that trawler-men made, I discovered this fascinating piece of information and photo courtesy of www.llangibby.eclipse.co.uk:
“As in 1914, 1939 saw a “call-up” of trawlers, and men to crew them. Fitting-out yards carried out the conversions, while the men were recruited into the Royal Naval Patrol Service, set up in the “Sparrow’s Nest”, a converted theatre in Lowestoft. The trawlers were now allocated Pennant Numbers, with the “Flag Superior” letter or number indicating their roles: FY (“Fishery”) for minesweeping, anti-submarine, dan-laying and other trawlers; Z for boom defence (from 1940 onwards), Y for supply vessels, including the so-called “Essos” or fuel carriers, and 4 for auxiliary patrols, wreck dispersal and a few minesweeping and anti-submarine trawlers. Dan-layers worked closely with minesweepers to mark the swept channels. Those trawlers employed as Essos for the Normandy landings were effectively made redundant by the commissioning of PLUTO in 1944, and were released early to their owners. As many purpose-built minesweepers were commissioned during the War, they were able to take over this task from trawlers immediately after VE day, enabling a much quicker return to the owners than after the Great War.”
But back to my fishy recipe, as I was lucky enough to have some fish – coley (saithe), as supplied by John at Delish Fish, whose father played a vital role during the war as part of the RNPS. At this stage I would also like to mention my father too, who was just a little too young to join up during WW2, but who joined the Royal Navy just after the war and spent much of his time in the senior service on minesweepers, (HMS Rattlesnake) and on fishery protection duties in the North Atlantic……as well as being involved in many other theatres throughout the world.
I have digressed……….sorry, now back to today’s wartime recipe, Devilled Fish, a simple and surprisingly spicy fish gratin that only uses 225g of fish. The recipe comes from a great little book called The Stork Wartime Cookery Book, which is filled with some very thrifty recipes and handy tips such as how to cook before, during and after an air-raid warning!
I bought my copy if this interesting little book in a charity shop a few years back and I often turn to it for recipes that are just as relevant to day, using very little fat and sugar. Here’s the recipe, and as you can see it is really just fish in a devilled white sauce with a crunchy bread crumb topping:
On to my rations, my daily meal plan and what I have used and what is left…….today I used: 3/4 pint (300ml) milk, 1 oz (25g) margarine, 1/2 oz (15g) tea, 1/2 oz butter, 1 teaspoon marmalade and 2 ozs (50g) cheese. And, here is my daily meal plan:
Daily Meal Plan for Friday 9th November:
Breakfast: One slice of National Loaf toast with scraping of margarine and marmalade; cup of tea
Lunch: Devilled Fish with tinned peas and a cup of tea
Tea: Quick Welsh Rarebit with Pickle (recipe to follow) and cup of tea
WW2 Rations 1940: Two Adults:
* Butter: 3 ozs (75g) – used 1/2 oz (25g)
Bacon or ham: 200g (8oz) – used one rasher 3/4 oz (20g) : 180g (7 1/4 oz) left
* Margarine: 5 1/2 ozs (135g) – used 1 oz (25g)
Cooking fat/lard: 200g (8oz) Used 20zs (50g) – 60zs (150g) left
Sugar: 14 1/2 ozs (440g)
Meat: To the value of 2/4d – about 2lb (900g)
* Milk: 4 1/4 pints (1350mls) – used 3/4 pint (450ml)
* Cheese: 6oz (150g) – used 2 ozs (50g)
Eggs: 2 fresh egg a week – NOT taking this ration up as I have my own chickens
* Tea: 1 1/2 0zs (35g) left – Used 1/2 oz (15g)
* Jam: 900g (2lb) every two months. Used 1 teaspoon marmalade 1oog (4 ozs) left
Dried eggs: 1 packet (12 eggs) every four weeks
Sweets & Chocolate: 700g (1lb 8oz) every four weeks
That’s it for today, I hope you have enjoyed my Wartime Fish on Friday post and recipe, one thing I am learning is just how little you need to add to recipes by way of meat or fish to make a filling family meal…….see you later, Karen.
Join Fiona and Janice in their wartime kitchens too!