Comminee de Poisson is a mild creamy cumin flavored sauce served with fish. The creaminess comes from the use of almond milk as the base of the sauce. The light flavor keeps it from being too rich for the fish. It is a mild dish that doesn’t test the modern palate as some other sauces might but seems almost familiar.
The Vivendier recipe is recorded as follows…
Pour faire une comminee de poisson. Prenez du lait damandes et du pain blancq trempré dedens sans rostir, commin, gingembre et saffren, passez tout parmy l’estamine ; faictes boullir une onde qui ne soit pas trop cler ne trop espes et jettez par dessus vostre poisson quel qu’il soit.
Scully’s translation states it this way….
To make a Fish Cuminade. Get almond milk with untoasted bread tempered in it, cumin, ginger and saffron, all strained; bring it to a boil. It should be neither too watery nor too think. Pour it over whatever fish you have.
Here is my version…
I chose Arrowtooth Flounder as my fish for this dish. It is not a fish that would be found in the waters off the coast of France but it was a good price when I went to the store. Turbot would have been more common for this dish, but my store did not carry it.
I made the almond milk rather than using the store bought version because the taste is so different and with such mild flavors using the store bought would have changed the resulting dish quite a bit.
I didn’t take pictures of making the almond milk but it is a simple process. I basically used the instructions found HERE. My almond milk differed slightly as I used 1 1/2 cup of water for each cup of almonds and I didn’t use any sweeteners.
Once my ingredients were gathered I tore about half of the loaf of french bread into chunks. Then I added the saffron cumin and ginger to the almond milk and mixed it well. I tasted it at this point to check the seasonings and ended up adding more ginger as it was overwhelmed by the cumin flavor. The milk and seasoning mixture was combined with the bread and set aside to soak.
While is soaked I baked the flounder for about 8-10 minutes flipping half way through. Once the bread had soaked up a good amount of the milk and then strained it through a wire sieve. The strained bread and seasoned almond milk was set on a medium high heat and brought to a boil and then simmered for a about 10 minutes. Once it reached the thickness of a thin gravy I removed it from the heat.
The sauce was spooned over the fish and served.
This is a very mild dish. It was good but kind of boring. I personally like things with lots of spice to them so this was a bit bland for my taste. The commentary in Scully’s translation of The Vivendier mentions that Vatican version of Le Viandier from the 15th century was designated as “Pour malades” or for the sick. This explains the mild flavor. It would indeed be a dish you could serve to people of any age or level of health. Scully also mentions that in other books of the time their were other cuminades. Chicken, fish and almond and the three he talks about. If I make this dish again I would like to try it with chicken.