Broiled Fish with Reading Sauce ………..

In Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, Phileas Fogg decided to have a breakfast of ……

“.. broiled fish with Reading sauce, a scarlet slice of roast beef garnished with mushrooms, a rhubarb and gooseberry tart, and a morsel of Cheshire cheese, the whole being washed down with several cups of tea, for which the Reform is famous.”

Living at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens. Phileas Fogg, let`s be honest, is a bit of a dick. He is a rich bachelor, around 40 years of age, and he insists on living life with clockwork precision. He spends most of his time at the Reform Club and once decided to dismiss his man servant James Forster, because he had recklessly brought him shaving-water at 84 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 86. Forster is then replaced by a Frenchman, Jean Passepartout. Meanwhile back at the Reform Club, Phileas Fogg accepts a ₤20,000 bet that he can tour the world in 80 days. All the leading newspapers carry this news and the media consider it as madness and rather surprisingly (particularly for these days) only The Daily Telegraph supported him.

Phileas Fogg’s Itinerary:
London to Suez via Mont Cenis and Brindisi
Rail and Steamer
7 days
Suez to Bombay
13 days
Bombay to Calcutta
3 days
Calcutta to Hong Kong
13 days
Hong Kong to Yokohama (Japan)
6 days
Yokohama to San Francisco
22 days
San Francisco to New York City
7 days
New York City to London
Rail and Steamer
9 days
80 days
After many rollicking, politically incorrect adventures, they finally arrive back in London five minutes too late. However, the next day they discover they were one day ahead of schedule. This was because they had traveled in an eastward direction, gaining an extra day as they traveled across different time zones
Back to his breakfast……

During the Victorian era, Reading sauce rivalled Worcestershire Sauce in the nation’s affections. So popular was the sauce that Lewis Carroll name checked it in his poem Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur

Then, fourthly, there are epithets, That suit with any word
As well as Harvey’s Reading Sauce, With fish, or flesh, or bird.

However during the 1900s, Reading’s Cocks’s Sauce, fell out of favour with the public.

Sadly after the company’s early promise its market share gradually declined, and the company was sold by the Cocks family in 1901 although it did survive until 1962.

WARNING This sauce was a complete bugger to make, and my kitchen had a rather odd dead tramp smell for days.

Below is the original recipe from Mrs Beeton`s Book of Household Management (1861)

INGREDIENTS: 2-½ pints of walnut pickle, 1-½ oz. of shalots, 1 quart of spring water, ¾ pint of Indian soy, ½ oz. of bruised ginger, ½ oz. of long pepper, 1 oz. of mustard-seed, 1 anchovy,½ oz. of cayenne, ¼ oz. of dried sweet bay-leaves.

Mode: Bruise the shalots in a mortar, and put them in a stone jar with the walnut-liquor; place it before the fire, and let it boil until reduced to 2 pints. Then, into another jar, put all the ingredients except the bay-leaves, taking care that they are well bruised, so that the flavour may be thoroughly extracted; put this also before the fire, and let it boil for 1 hour, or rather more. When the contents of both jars are sufficiently cooked, mix them together, stirring them well as you mix them, and submit them to a slow boiling for½ hour; cover closely, and let them stand 24 hours in a cool place; then open the jar and add the bay-leaves; let it stand a week longer closed down, when strain through a flannel bag, and it will be ready for use. The above quantities will make½ gallon.

Time: Altogether, 3 hours.

Seasonable: This sauce may be made at any time.

As I had no stone jars, no idea what a bruised ginger should look like and only a small bottle of jar of pickle, I changed the recipe and scaled it down proportionately

1. In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, gently cook the onion and the liquid from the walnut pickle.
2. Then bring it to a boil, and continue to simmer until it’s reduced – approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
3. In another medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, place the pickled walnuts, soy sauce, mustard seed, chilli powder, ginger, cayenne pepper and the anchovy.
4. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
5. When the onion and the walnut pickle liquid have reduced, pour it into the other saucepan and stir well.
6. Continue simmering for another 15 minutes.
7. Turn off the heat, let the mixture cool, before pouring it all into a jar with a lid.
8. Put it in the fridge and then forget about it for a few days.
9. Once you remember that it is still in the fridge. Take it out and place a strainer over a bowl and then press through the sauce, so only the liquid is left.
10. Then present it as a gift to somebody you do not like Add the sauce to your fish and then insist on being called Phileas for the rest of the evening.

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