Sam’s historical recipe corner: fish sausages

Every issue, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. This month it's fish sausages, a First World War dish that may sound odd but is both thrifty and tasty...

This article was first published in the June 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine


“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.


  • 2 teacups-full of cooked fish (I used cod)
  • 2 tbsp of cooked rice (I used about 5!)
  • ½tsp dried herbs (I used dill)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small egg or 1tbsp of water or stock
  • Breadcrumbs, maize flour or oatmeal


Pound the skinned and boned fish until smooth, then add rice, herbs, seasoning and egg or stock. Add stock as required to moisten.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly and form into small sausages. Roll in dried breadcrumbs, maize flour or oatmeal, and fry the coated sausages in hot oil.

My verdict

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. We ate the sausages for dinner and then again, cold, on a picnic at the beach – my son Dylan (below) loved them! The idea of fish sausages may seem a bit unappealing, but they are actually more like fish rissoles or croquettes.

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. Make sure you add enough stock to prevent them from becoming too dry.

Difficulty: 3/10


Time: 20 mins (add an hour for cooling them in the fridge before frying)