Cod with crayfish, peas and ‘poudre fort’ (Menagier De Paris Cookbook)

In the late 14th century Le Menagier de Paris, also known as “The Good Wife’s Guide: A Medieval Household Book,” a wealthy Parisian husband compiled 380 different recipes for his new, young bride. This instructive manual provides great insight into the everyday lives and food pairings of the Parisian bourgeoisie of the time with recipes like this one for Cod with Crayfish and Peas, spiced up with the medieval ‘Poudre Fort’ spice mix.

Typical of what would have been served during medieval Lent “fast days,” when meat wasn’t allowed, this Cod with Crayfish and Peas was a good alternative, using staple ingredients that were readily available. Poudre fort or “strong powder” was a popular medieval spice mixture of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and pepper, which can be traced back much further to their North African and Middle Eastern origins, and knew many variations.


Pea Soup

  • 300 g fresh peas, shelled
  • 400 g reserved pea broth
  • 45 g blanched almond flour
  • 35 g white breadcrumbs
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground ginger
  • ground cloves
  • grains of paradise, crushed

Cook the fresh peas in a medium-size sauce pot of salted boiling water. Strain the peas and reserve 400 grams of the cooking liquid from the peas. Return the cooked peas to the pot and set aside the cooking liquid.

Add the breadcrumbs and almond flour to the pot of cooked peas. In a separate small pot, bring the cooking liquid from the peas back up to a boil. Next, pour the liquid over the cooked peas, breadcrumbs and almond flour and mix until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Season with cloves, cinnamon, ginger and paradise seed, to taste.

Baked Cod and Crayfish Tails

  • cod fillet
  • crayfish, shelled and deveined
  • 1–2 tbsp unsalted butter (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF. In a shallow baking pan, season the cod fillet with salt and pepper. Brush both sides with olive oil and bake.

In a small sauce pan, add a tablespoon of butter and a dash of water. Bring to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and add the crayfish tails. Allow to cook briefly in residual heat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Note: Be careful not boil the crayfish tails, as they will become tough.

Serve baked cod and crayfish tails over a bed of pea soup.

Read more on spicy pairings from the 13th & 14th Century

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