Planked Fish

To Roast A Shad
Fill the cavity with good forcemeat, sew it up and tie it on a board of proper size, cover it with bread crumbs, with some salt and pepper, set it before the fire to roast it; when done on one side, turn it, tie it again, and when sufficiently done, pull out the thread and serve it up with butter and parsley poured over it.
Randolph, Mary. The Virginia Housewife. 1824

Similar to Randolph but "a suitable board, (not pine;)..."
Webster, A.L. The Improved Housewife. 1855

Shad Roasted on a Board
Take a piece of clean oak board about three inches thick, and two feet square, stand it before the fire till the board is very hot, indeed almost charred. Have your shad split down the back, cleaned, washed, wiped dry, and seasoned with salt; fasten it to the hot board with a few small nails; the skin side should be next the board, place the board before the fire with the head part down; as soon as the juices begin to run, turn it with the tail down; it should be turned frequently in order to retain the juices. When done butter it and serve it hot. Send it to the table on the board.
This is the receipt for baking shad at the Philadelphia "fish house."
Peterson, Hannah. The National Cook Book. Phila: 1866

To Roast a Shad on a Board.
Take a fat, fresh shad, clean it neatly, lay it open on the back, as for broiling, salt and pepper it, then nail it to an oaken board or barrel top, first heating the board thoroughly. Set the board up on its isde before the fire, turn it frequently, first one side up, then the other, to preserve the juice. Flour and butter it while roasting, and, when done, lay the board with the fish on a dish, and send it to the table hot, with drawn butter and chopped eggs.
Mason, Mary. The Young Housewife's Counsellor. Phila: 1871

"Roasting and Barbacueing" in Robert Beverly's History and Present State of Virginia... 1705

Clatsops of the Pacific Northwest 1804-1806
The spit for fish is split at the top into two parts, between which the fish is placed, cut open, and its sides extended by means of small splinters. Meat is roasted on one end of a sharp skewer, placed erect before the fire, with the other fixed in the ground.
History of the expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clarke. NY: 1861

The image "Plantation Cooks, Surinam, 1839" shows fish being suspended above the cooking pot and fire.


To broil Haddocks
Skin and bone them, as directed for boiling, and broil them before the fire on a fishspit, or a tin pan, turning them.
To roast a Pike
Scale and gut it through the gills... When you have put this force-meat into the belly, spit it, tie it on with two splinters, and a piece of tape, dredge and baste it.
To roast Carp
...after you have spitted it on a lark-spit; baste with claret, anchovy, and butter.
Taylor, E. The Lady's, Housewife's, and Cookmaid's Assistant. Berwick Upon Tweed: 1769


When a Jack or Pike is discharged of its Scales and Entrails, and well clean'd, prepare a Mixture in the following Manner, to be sew'd up in the Belly of the Fish: Take of grated Bread about one third part, the Rivet, or Liver of the Fish cut small, with Oysters chopped, or the Flesh of Eels cut small; mix these with three or four Eggs butter'd in a Sauce-pan, to which add Pepper and Salt with some dry'd Sweet Marjoram well pouder'd, or such other Sweet-herbs as are most grateful to the Palate, an Anchovy shred small, and fill the Belly of the Fish with the Preparation, and sew it up.
When this is done, cut two small Laths of Willow, or any other Wood, except Deal, or such as has a Turpentine Juice in it, of the length of the Fish, and lay the Fish upon the Spit, with the two Laths upon the Fish, and bind them together with a Fillet of Linnen, about an Inch wide, which must be wrapp'd round them in a Screw-like manner,
and then laid down to the Fire, and basted very well with Butter, and drudged with Crumbs of Bread, and the same sort of Sweet-herbs that were used in the mixture abovmention'd. Where you have not the conveniency of Oysters, or Eels, to compose the aforemention'd Mixture, you may add a larger quantity of butter'd Eggs. Where there is the conveniency of an Oven, we may bake such a Fish with less trouble than roasting it; and in that case rub the outside with the Yolk of an Egg, and roll it in some of the Mixture abovemention'd, the Anchovy and butter'd Eggs excepted, putting some Vinegar and Butter in the Pan.
The smaller Sort of these Fish, i.e. such as are about a Foot long, are most commonly boiled, but they will do well baked, as above directed.
Bradley, Richard. The Country Housewife and Lady's Director. 1732

American Shad timeline along the Delaware River
Valley Forge and Shad
Hudson River Shad
The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record site for the picture "Plantation Cooks"

©2008 Patricia Bixler Reber