Today we prepare a medieval green sauce with spit-roasted trouts. We selected this recipe from the Opusculum de Saporibus (The Book of Sauces), an interesting source written in Latin about how to make healthy (according to the medical habits of the period) and tasty sauces. The author is a Milanese physician, Maino de’ Mainieri, who worked at Visconti’s court in the middle of 14th century.
This plate is easy to prepare and delicious, an ideal way to begin knowing the typical flavor combinations of the Middle Ages, with spices and fresh herbs.
Maineri gives us only the recipe of the sauce, suggesting that it is a good pairing with small-sized fishes (this means for medieval cooks that we have to choose fishes that don’t need to be cut in pieces) veal, goat, and mutton. We decided to cook trouts, a fish appreciated during the Middle Ages as well as all the other fresh-water fishes, considered superior to the salty water’s. We spit roasted the trouts on the charcoal, a method of cooking widely used for whole fishes.
In our interpretation of the recipe, we reduced the number of cloves. It is a philological choice: medieval cooks always suggest to change the quantity and quality of the spices to our taste. You find the original recipe with its translation below.
coarse sea salt
To make the sauce, grind in the mortar the cloves, then add the ginger after peeling and mincing it, and two pinches of coarse sea salt. You can also use dry ginger. Now, add the minced herbs. The author suggests to use one part rosemary to four part parsley. Toast a slice of bread and soak it in vinegar, then add it to the sauce, grinding all together.
Now, spit roast the trouts on the charcoal turning them often.
When they are ready, plate and serve with the sauce.
Igitur pro carnibus castratinis vitulinis et edinis elixatis est salsa viridis que sic fit. Recipe petrosilli m. i rorismarini quartam m. unius panis assi ad quantitatem unius ovi zinziberi albi i gariofili xii. Fiat salsa cum aceto sed in estate apponatur minus de speciebus et in hyeme plus. Iterum in hyeme in predicta salsa ponatur aliquantulum vini vel quod acetum sit minus forte. […]
Sapor conveniens pro parvis piscibus est salsa viridis […].
This is the green sauce for mutton, veal, and goat. Take one part parsley and a quarter part rosemary, toasted bread the size of an egg, white ginger, and twelve cloves. Make this sauce with vinegar, but in summer use less spices and in winter more. In winter, pour in the sauce the same amount of wine [instead of vinegar] or a less strong vinegar.
This green sauce is a good pairing with small-sized fishes.