A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents

Gele of Fyssh

PERIOD: England, 14th century | SOURCE: Forme of Cury | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Fish in Aspic


Take tenches, pykes, eelys, turbut, and plays; kerue hem to pecys. Scalde hem & waische hem clene; drye hem with a cloth. Do hem in a panne; do therto half vyneger & half wyne, & seeth it wel, & take the fysshe & pike it clene. Cole the broth thurgh a cloth in to an erthen panne; do therto powdour of peper and safroun ynowh. Lat it seeth & skym it wel. Whan it is ysode, dof the grees clene; cowche fissh on chargours & cole the sew thorow a cloth onoward, & serue it forth colde.

- Austin, Thomas. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 & Harl. MS. 4016, with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1429, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55. London: for The Early English Text Society by N. Trübner & Co., 1888.


  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of whole fish, with heads, tails and bones intact
  • 1 C dry wine
  • 1 C wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp saffron
  • Salt to taste
1. In a large pot, over medium heat, bring wine and vinegar to a boil. Put the fish into the pot, cut to fit if need be, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for fifteen minutes, or until the fish flakes and is done. Remove the fish and allow to cool. Reserve the wine and vinegar in the pot.

2. Remove the heads, tails, skin, and all bones from the fish and return these to the pot. Set aside the cleaned fish.

3. Add spices and salt to the pot with the heads, tails, skin and bones, and return to the boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for half an hour to forty-five minutes, until the liquid has been reduced by no more than half.

4. Remove the heads, tails, skin and bones from the pot. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, clean white cloth, or conical coffee filter into another container. With a slotted spoon, skim off any grease from the stock.

5. Arrange the cleaned fish in a serving dish or platter with a high rim, and pour the stock over it. Refrigerate for two hours or until the jelly sets completely. Serve cold.

Serves four to six.


Unlike modern aspics, this one is not molded; the jelly congeals around the fish in its serving dish. The recipe does not specify that the fish used to make the jelly is the same that is served in the dish (cowche fissh - not cowche the fissh). I use the same fish, and add a little salt.

Gele of Fyssh is featured in Servise on a Fisshe Day

Metric, Celsius, & Gas Mark Equivalencies

A Boke of Gode CookeryRecipes from A Newe Boke of Olde Cokery

Gele of Fyssh © 2000 Rudd Rayfield | This page © 2000 James L. Matterer

A Newe Boke of Olde Cokery

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