Thursday, May 23, 2019

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxxiiij. Tenche in bruette & lxxxxv. Tenche in cyueye - Tench in Civey

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxxxiiij. Tenche in bruette


After some debate, I placed both interpretations from Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 Thomas Austin for tench in sauce or broth on the same blog post.  My reasoning for this is that there is more similarities than differences between the two.  The Tenche in Cyueye includes onions which the Tenche in Bruette does not.

The Glossary of Medieval & Renaissance Culinary Terms defines cyueye in the following way:

cive, civey(e), ciuey, cyuey, ceue, cyueye = Ragout or stew (possibly derived from a word meaning 'onion' (Plouvier). (Viandier)  - Among other modern usages, this is probably a derivative of civey, which was at one time named for, and characterized by, the possibility of thickening a sauce with finely chopped onion, cooked till very soft. Some medieval recipes for civeys (for example, hare in civey) also call for blood as an additional thickener; nowadays the dish, which is now sometimes called civet, is mostly characterized by thickening and enriching the broth with the reserved blood of the critter you're cooking. It will coagulate if boiled, and turn very dark, but if heated properly it will assume a velvety texture similar to a stirred custard, and acquire a deep russet shade almost like a mole-poblano-type sauce. (Troy)
I was intrigued by the instructions to scald or boil the fish before roasting it.  Scalding is a method of cleaning and killing any microorganisms that might be harmful.  It involves heating a liquid (in this case water) or milk to just below boiling.  If you have a thermometer 180 degrees is best.  If you don't you want to keep an eye on the side of the pan. When you see small bubbles forming around the side and steam starting to whisp off of the pan, then you can remove your liquid.

.lxxxxiiij. Tenche in bruette.—Take þe Tenche, an sethe hem & roste hem, an grynde Pepir an Safroun, Bred and Ale, & tempere wyth þe brothe, an boyle it; þen take þe Tenche y-rostyd, an ley hym on a chargeoure; þan ley on þe sewe a-boue

94. Tench in Broth- Take the tench, and boil him and roast him, and grind pepper and saffron, bread and ale, and temper with the broth, and boil it, then take the tench roasted, and lay him on a charger; then lay on the sauce above.


1/4  pound fatty firm textured fish such as carp, perch, tench, bluefish or bass
1/4 tsp. pepper
pinch of saffron
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3/4 cup ale
3 tbsp. fish broth

In keeping with the instructions, I scalded the fish by placing it in a pot with just enough water to cover it.  I then heated the pan until I saw small bubbles forming around the edge of it and steam starting to form.  Due to modern methods of cleaning and butchering fish, I imagine you could have skipped this step without difficulty.

I removed the fish from the pan and placed it on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roasted it in the oven until it was done.  While the fish was cooking in the oven I took a few tablespoons of the broth and added the saffron to it.  Once the saffron had strongly colored the water, I added it to the ale (ok confession time--I used Sam Adams Summer Shandy made with lemon peel and grains of paradise) and then soaked the bread crumbs in it.  Once the bread was soggy I put it in the pot and brought it to a boil until it formed a thick sauce.

After the fish had finished cooking I plated it and served.

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - lxxxxv. Tenche in cyueye - Tench in Civey 


.lxxxxv. Tenche in cyueye.—Take a tenche, an skalde hym, roste hym, grynde Pepir an Safroun, Brede an Ale, & melle it to-gederys; take Oynonys, hakke hem, an frye hem in Oyle, & do hem þer-to, and messe hem forth.


95. Tench in Civey - Take a tench, and scald him, roast him, grind pepper and saffron, bread and ale, and mix it together; take onions, hack them, and fry them in oil, and do them there-to, and mess him forth.

1/4  pound fatty firm textured fish such as carp, perch, tench, bluefish or bass
1/4 tsp. pepper
pinch of saffron
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3/4 cup ale
3 tbsp. fish broth
3 tbsp. onions
1 tbsp. oil

To make this dish, follow the instructions above.  The additional step is to lightly brown the finely chopped onion in oil, and after plating, garnish the plate with it.

Both of these dishes were enjoyed by the taste testers, but they were not the day's winner--the best dish of the day was lxxxxvj. Tench in Sawce - Tenche in Sauce.  However, this dish would be something I would be happy to serve at any feast, a vigil, lunch and if fresh fish were available at camp.  It was simple to make, came together with very little fuss and delicious.

I feel like I need to start placing a caveat at the bottom of each post--I am a hobbyist and I am still very much learning my craft. This is something I do for fun, and with a hope to introduce individuals to food history and entice them to do research on their own. I hope that they find my posts fun and informative and intriguing enough to strike out on their own. I am - not - an authority, nor do I masquerade as one. The sad reality is that no matter how much we learn about this kind of cooking, we will never be authorities, at best, we are guessing at the author's and the cook's intent. I welcome *constructive* criticism and I will own up to mistakes.