Pike is a freshwater game fish, belonging to a small family of soft-rayed fish called esocides. It is a voracious hunter and is reputed to kill and eat its own kind. It has a long, slightly flattened body and head with a long spatulate snout and large mouth. It can grow to as much as 70 pounds, but for culinary purposes, pike usually weighs from 3 to 6 pounds.

Pike flesh is firm and white but tends to be dry and coarse, with many sharp bones. In Britain, the fish is not popular but in France and North America, it is highly prized.

Pike is cooked in a number of ways but it is most especially used to make QUENELLES (keh-nell) – oval-shaped dumplings made by pounding the flesh of fish with butter, cream and sometimes eggs and flour. All recipes for TURBOT, BRILL, PERCH and CARP are suitable for pike.

To prepare pike for cooking, scrape away the scales, remove the guts and wash the fish thoroughly. Soak the pike in well salted water for 3 hours, then drain. It is now ready to be cooked. All cooking times given here are approximate for a 3- pound pike.

To poach a whole pike, lay it in a large fish kettle. Pour enough warm COURT BOUILLON into the kettle to cover the pike.

Place the kettle over high heat and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the kettle and poach the fish for 25 to 30 minutes or until it is tender. Poached pike may be served with a white or green sauce and garnishes.

To braise filleted pike, preheat the oven to warm 325°F (Gas Mark 3, 170°C). Lay the fillets in a large ovenproof dish.

Pour over 8 fluid ounces of concentrated hot COURT BOUILLON. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until tender.

To bake a pike, preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C). Wrap the pike in a piece of cheesecloth to preserve its shape. Lay the pike in a greased baking tin. Bake the pike for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the fish is tender. Alternatively, brush the fish all over with olive oil or melted butter. Wrap it firmly in aluminium foil, folding the edges to seal as well as possible. Place the fish in a baking dish and put it in the oven for 1 hour or until it is tender.

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