Corned Fish Dinner

It seems that there was nothing very noteworthy in the Marblehead Newspaper sixty years ago this week, so I guess I will forego the 60 years ago story until next week. Let’s talk about “Corned Fish Dinner.”  Anyone remember that delicious Marblehead meal and still make it? I think it may soon become a lost art.   My favorite birthday dinner and now it is becoming a Christmas tradition too.

Corned fish

Never heard of it? It used to be that you would go to the local fish market and ask for so many pounds of haddock and have them “corn” it.  For you non-fishing folks, “corning” means to “salt” the fish.  Now if you go to a fish market, I still do,( to this day I cannot buy my fish in a supermarket), and ask them to “corn” the fish they are clueless.  So you have to do it yourself when you get  home.  While you are at the fish market you can ask them for some “salt pork” also.  Good luck with that one.  I had a young clerk tell me “I was in a fish market and they did not sell meat”.  It used to be sold in the fish markets. Don’t people make rashers for their chowda’s anymore?  So you have to hunt around a grocery store for some nice salt pork, very lean with little meat on it.  I recently found some great salt pork at McKinnon’s Market in Danvers. It made the best rashers I have tasted in a long time.   While at the store buy some all purpose white potatoes, yellow onions and a few cans of beets.

Once home, salt the fish by sprinkling kosher salt on it, covering it and placing it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Begin to make your rashers.   Cut the salt pork into small cubes and put it in a fry pan, not too hot because the fat will burn and smoke.  When they are nice and brown take them out and set aside.  Save the grease you will need that later.

Peel your potatoes and onions and put in a large pot to boil until tender.  When almost done, lay your fish on top and cook until it is flaky.  Also heat up the beets in a separate pan.   Now, when done put it all on a platter. Heat up the grease and put in a gravy bowl and don’t forget the rashers, they are the best part.

Have everyone sit down at the table and let the fun being. Put some potatoes, onions, fish and beets on your plate and chop and mash it up until all blended together, the pinker the better. It is a competition to see who can get theirs looking the best.  Top with  a little grease and some rashers and enjoy.  Best dinner ever.  Don’t try to have a dinner conversation while mashing this on your plate because it can get very loud with the clanging of the knife and fork. Remember to save some to heat up in a skillet the next day, it is even better as a leftover.

Now if you are like some relatives of mine, the non ‘Header ones, you will keep everything separate on your plate and won’t mix it, very boring and you may be asked to  leave the table.  If anyone makes this delicious meal this week let me know and I will come sample it.

mcclains fish market



3 thoughts on “Corned Fish Dinner

  1. Exactly as I remember it except for corning the fish. I always remember the salted cod in the little wooden box that used to be cheap, but was over $10 the last time I found some. It was dried and salted (maybe that’s what corning means?) and had to be rinsed of its salt. It was an end of the month meal, if you know what I mean. Anyone remember scotch ham? Used to buy it at Osborne’s. Another end of the month money stretcher.


  2. It is a “special “dinner in my family. maybe in prior generations it was a staple when everyone went fishing and hauled in several pounds of fish at a time. don’t think I ever had it with the fish in a box


  3. Is that the fish market that was on State street? There was an old guy there who would save fish scraps for me. I would take them home and cook them for my cat.


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