“Adventures in “rockfish” Cookery,” from 1951

rockfishrecipesIsn’t this a marvelous drawing? I was looking for information at OSU’s Valley Library this week and I plugged “Sebastes” into the search engine. Up popped a number of interesting items, including this one, to a publication of the Oregon Experiment Station in September of 1951.  It’s a collection of recipes, pulled together by the Seafoods Laboratory of the Food Technology Department in Astoria, by Margaret R. Lunning and E. W. Harvey.

This is interesting on several fronts. Oregon fishing companies were trying to sell more rockfish fillets and the Agricultural Experiment Station responded with a collection of recipes. The fish had been caught off Oregon since the 1930s, but hadn’t been generally available to the consumer. That was about to change. Pacific Ocean Perch was soon going to be “conspicuous in markets and groceries,” as the pamphlet put it.

Oregon rockfish are similar the the redfish, red perch, or ocean perch caught on the east coast of the U.S., where it is now the “most abundantly produced fish in that area of the country,” (italics in the original).

“The person who enjoys fish but resents a strong, “fishy” taste will find in this delicately flavored flesh a valuable addition to his list of seafood favorites.” The recipes all recommend combining salt with mono sodium glutamate, “a natural salt, which in itself has no flavor, but which accents and enhances the natural flavor of that with which it is used.”

The pamphlet ends with the words, “The whole family will enjoy these new Adventures in “Rockfish” Cookery.”

One of the recipes is called Baked Fillets Margo, and I’d bet a rosefish that it came from Margo Westrheim, the wife of Jergen Westrheim, who worked for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife out of Astoria. Jergen knew a lot about rockfish, and his lovely wife, Margo, must have cooked it often.  Jergen and Margo live in Nanaimo these days, but I bet she makes her signature recipe.

Baked Fillets Margo

2 pounds fillets, cut into serving pieces

1 tsp each salt and glutamate

1/16 tsp pepper

2 cups milk

Butter or other fat

Brush fillets with melted butter or other fat and sprinkle with salt and glutamate. Place in baking dish and completely cover with milk. Bake covered in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Remove fish to warm platter, and keep warm. To serve over fish, make creat sauce as follows: 2 Tbsp butter or fat, 2 tablespoons of flour, 1 cup milk, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper. Melt butter or other fat, blend in flour until smooth.

Add milk gradually, stirring until boiling point is reached.

Reduce heat and cook 3 minutes, add seasonings. Add a bit of parsley or pimiento for color.

Leave a Reply