Boiling extracts flavor and, to some extent, nutriment from the food to which this cookery method is applied. Therefore, unless the fish to be cooked is one that has a very strong flavor and that will be improved by the loss of flavor, it should not be boiled. Much care should be exercised in boiling fish, because the meat is usually so tender that it is likely to boil to pieces or to fall apart.
A utensil in which fish can be boiled or steamed very satisfactorily is a fish boiler. It is a long, narrow, deep pan with a cover and a rack on which the fish is placed. Attached to each end of the rack is an upright strip, or handle, that permits the rack containing the fish to be lifted out of the pan and the fish thus removed without breaking. To assist further in holding the fish together while it is cooking, a piece of gauze or cheesecloth may be wrapped around the fish before it is put into the pan.
When a fish is to be boiled, clean it and, if desired, remove the head. Pour sufficient boiling water to cover the fish well into the vessel in which it is to be cooked, and add salt in the proportion of 1 teaspoonful to each quart of water. Tie the fish in a strip of cheesecloth or gauze if necessary, and lower it into the vessel of slowly boiling water. Allow the fish to boil until it may be easily pierced with a fork; then take it out of the water and remove the cloth, provided one is used. Serve with a well-seasoned sauce, such as lemon cream, horseradish, etc.