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Historical recipe: Fish sausages – a surprisingly tasty First World War treat

In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates fish sausages – a First World War dish that may sound odd, but is both thrifty and tasty...

Published: November 1, 2021 at 4:40 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
  • Difficulty 3/10

“The struggle is not only on land and sea; it is in your larder, your kitchen, and your dining room...” So begins the Win-the-War Cookery Book, published in 1918 as part of Britain’s food economy campaign.

Designed to encourage people to ration food and thus bolster the war effort, the book’s ingenious (not to say bizarre!) recipes – which range from cheese herrings to fried mush – really do make the most of every single ingredient.

Most fried foods tend to taste great, and so did these: not the healthiest dish but a lovely treat. I was expecting something a bit blander, but these were delicious – especially with a dollop of tartare sauce on the side. The idea of fish sausages may seem a bit unappealing, but they are actually more like fish rissoles or croquettes.


  • 2 Cooked white fish
  • 1tbsp Cooked rice
  • ½tsp Dried herbs (we used Dill)
  • 1 Small egg or 1 tbsp of water or stock
  • Breadcrumbs, maize flour or oatmeal


  • STEP 1

    Pound the skinned and boned fish until smooth.

  • STEP 2

    Add rice, herbs, and egg or stock, then season with salt and pepper.

  • STEP 3

    Add stock as required to moisten.

  • STEP 4

    Mix the ingredients thoroughly and form into small sausages. To get a good shape to the sausages, I wrapped them in cling film and put them in the fridge for an hour before frying them – but make sure you add enough stock to prevent them from becoming too dry.

  • STEP 5

    Roll in dried breadcrumbs, maize flour or oatmeal, and fry the coated sausages in hot oil.


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