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Recipe for
Pices Scorpiones Rapultos
(Fish with Turnips in Saffron Sauce)

By Apicius: Excerpts VII

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The Roman Cookery of Apicius

This dish was originally made with the Scorpion Fish (Lesser Weever)... They're dangerous and venomous. — Use something else like Herring or Mackerel. [The eight species of weever fish are found mostly in tropical waters, though the lesser weever (responsible for most human stings) has a wide distribution: from the southern North Sea to the Mediterranean; it is especially common around the south coast of the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Atlantic coast of France and Spain, and the northern coast of the Mediterranean.]... Anyway, I think the original site-author found it in Edwards... I think.

Original recipe:

Translation: Half cook [the scorpion fish] in fish-pickle (garum) and olive oil. Remove from the pan. Take boiled turnips while still wet and chop very finely. Press the moisture out of them with your hands. Coat the scorpion fish with the turnip paste and boil in a lot of olve oil. When boiled, grind cumin and half a laurel berry in a mortar. [Blend with honey, wine, stock and a lottle olive oil]. Add saffron fo rcolor. [Boil and] thicken with rice [flour]. Pour [the sauce over the scorpion fish] and serve. Add a little vinegar.


  • 6 whole herring or mackerel, gutted (or 4 cod fillets)
  • 6 medium turnips, grated almonds or pine nuts
  • 1 cup garum
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the Sauce:

  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp laurel (bay) berries (or juniper berries or ¼ tsp ground pepper)
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¾ cup garum
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • Pinch of saffron
  • white wine or cider vinegar


  • First peel the turnips and boil until soft.
  • Pour off the excess water and mash them with butter.
  • Spread this mash on a serving plate.
  • Fillet the fish and poach them lightly in a mix of white wine, garum and olive oil (should take about 15 minutes).
  • Remove them from the stock and place on top of the mashed turnips. Season with the saffron sauce below.
  • Reserve the stock to make the saffron sauce.

To make the Saffron Sauce:

  • Grind together the cumin and laurel (or juniper/pepper) berries [in a pestle and mortar].
  • Combine this with the white wine, honey, garum and the olive oil/butter.
  • Bring to the boil, Add the cornflour and whisk in to thicken and then simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Add saffron for colour
  • Pour the sauce over the cooked fillets and serve witha sprinkling of vinegar..
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