The GP Advent Calendar of Cuisine — Roast Cormorant by Tachybaptus

Going Postal

Having shot your cormorant, hold it well away from you as you carry it home; these birds are exceedingly verminous and the lice are said to be not entirely host-specific. Hang up by the feet with a piece of wire, soak in petrol and set on fire. This treatment both removes most of the feathers and kills the lice.

When the smoke has cleared away, take the cormorant down and cut off the beak. Send this to the local Conservancy Board who, if you are in the right area, will give you 3/6d or sometimes 5/- for it. Bury the carcase, preferably in a light sandy soil, and leave it there for a fortnight. This is said to improve the flavour by removing, in part at least, the taste of rotting fish.

Dig up and skin and draw the bird. Place in a strong salt and water solution and soak for 48 hours. Remove, dry, stuff with whole, unpeeled onions: the onion skins are supposed to bleach the meat to a small extent, so that it is very dark brown instead of being entirely black.

Simmer gently in seawater, to which two tablespoons of chloride of lime have been added, for six hours. This has a further tenderising effect. Take out of the water and allow to dry, meanwhile mixing up a stiff paste of methylated spirit and curry powder.  Spread this mixture liberally over the breast of the bird.

Finally roast in a very hot oven for three hours.  The result is unbelievable.  Throw it away. Not even a starving vulture would eat it.

From W.M.W. Fowler, _Countryman’s Cooking_, 1965


There are three perfectly serious recipes for cormorant at
along with a health warning that the birds are so full of PCBs that they should only be eaten occasionally. A shame, because if you ate cormorant at every meal you would probably get used to the taste.

(The wine mentioned in the third recipe is misspelt: it should be Egri Bikaver, not Egi. This is the Hungarian wine known as Bull’s Blood. In my experience it isn’t up to much.)

Tachybaptus ©