Top Rated Eel Recipes
Think dim sum with a fiery twist. With minced jalapeño, Sriracha, and ketchup, the sauce for these dumplings packs a pretty decent wallop that marries well with the savory pork filling. These are perfect for passing around at a party.See all dumpling recipes.
Dish with Diane — a series all about getting healthy and delicious foods right from world-class chefs themselves, brings you this special salad. Loaded with creamy goat cheese and fresh peas, you won't need another salad all summer long!Click here for more Dish with Diane: Chef Inspired Healthy with Kerry Heffernan. Or click here to watch the video.For more Dish With Diane, click here.
Northern Ireland’s lough neagh eel, has become quite a delicacy in Europe, and has been harvested for years amongst the Irish people. In hopes of keeping evil spirits at bay, it is said that the dish was a popular Halloween specialty that was served in chunks and seared in oil and garlic. While it may be tough to get your hands on fresh eel straight from Irish waters, you can definitely find fresh eel at your local fishmonger.
How to Cook Eel, an Elongated Fish
Although eels look like water snakes, they are actually elongated fish. There are many species and they can be from 2 inches in length to 13 feet.
Most eels live in the shallow waters of the ocean and are nocturnal.
But the American eel lives mostly in freshwater and returns to the ocean to spawn.
Recipes using eel were common in 1800s cookbooks, but so far I haven’t seen any in cookbooks printed in the 1900s and later.
INFORMATION BELOW FROM 1800s COOKBOOKS
HAUNTS OF THE EEL
These are usually in mud, among weeds, under roots or stumps of trees, or in holes in the banks or the bottoms of rivers. Here they often grow to an enormous size, sometimes weighing as much as fifteen or sixteen pounds. They seldom come forth from their hiding-places except in the night, and in winter, bury themselves deep in the mud on account of their great susceptibility of cold.
THE BEST EELS
There is a greater difference in the goodness of eels than of any other fish. Those taken in great floods are generally good, but in ponds they have usually a strong rank flavor. Except the middle of summer, they are always in season.
Inquire, before buying, where they were caught, and give so decided a preference to country eels and refuse those fattened upon the offal of city wharves. Nor are the largest eels the best for eating. One weighing a pound is better for your purpose than a bulky fellow that weighs three.
TO SKIN AN EEL
Skin an eel by wrapping a stout cord around its neck just behind the gills. Cut a ring through the skin just below the cord, being careful not to cut too deeply into the flesh. Grasp the skin with a pliers and peel it off all the way down to the tail. Remove the head, fins, and entrails, and carefully extract all the fat from the inside .
Cut into short pieces a pound and a half of eels which have been skinned and cleaned. Put into a saucepan, cover with cold water, add a tablespoon of salt, six whole peppers, one red onion, and a cup of vinegar. Simmer for half an hour, drain and serve on a platter with melted butter, lemon-juice, and minced parsley.
Melt an ounce of butter in a stew-pan, add a handful of sorrel* cut in large pieces, a dozen sage leaves finely minced, five pounds of eels cut in pieces, and seasoned with pepper and salt. Then put in two anchovies boned and minced, half a nutmeg, and half a pint of water. Stew them gently together for half an hour, take out the onion, squeeze in a lemon, and lay toasted bread round the dish. Half this quantity will be sufficient for a small dish.
*sorrel – a garden green with a tart, lemon flavor. The larger leaves were used for soups and sauces and the young leaves for salads.
TO STEW AN EEL WHOLE
Take a fine large eel and clean it well. Force the inside with crumbs of bread, an anchovy cut fine, salt, pepper, a little nutmeg, and two or three oysters bruised, with some parsley shred fine. Fill the inside as full as you can, sew it up with fine thread, turn it round, and run a small skewer through it to keep it in its folds. Put it into a small stew-pan, with an onion stuck with cloves, and a bundle of herbs. Pour over it red wine, cover the pan down very close, and let it stew gently till tender. Take out the onion, &c. and put the eel into a dish and a plate over it. Thicken the sauce with butter rolled in flour, and squeeze a little lemon into the plate. Garnish the dish with fried oysters, horseradish, and lemon.
Cut a large cleaned eel into joints and soak for several hours in cold water, to which salt, pepper, and vinegar have been added. Drain them before cooking. Do not cover them with batter, but dredge them with just flour enough to absorb all moisture, slightly salt them, then cover them with boiling fat, as for doughnut cooking. Many New England families use corn-meal to dredge them with instead of flour. When done, d rain on brown paper and serve with tomato sauce.
Skin, clean and cut up a large eel. Dip into beaten egg, then into crumbs seasoned with grated lemon rind, nutmeg, minced parsley, sweet herbs, pepper, and salt. Broil skin side down on a buttered gridiron, turning when done. Serve with anchovy or tartar sauce.
Clean half a pound of small eels and set them on the fire with three pints of water, some parsley, a slice of onion, and a few peppercorns. Let them simmer till the eels are broken, and the broth good. Add salt, and strain it off. This should make three half pints of broth, nourishing and good for weakly persons.
ENGLISH EEL PIE
Skin, clean, and cut up two large eels. Cook with one tablespoon of butter, half a cup of chopped mushrooms, a tablespoon of chopped parsley, a minced onion, a bay-leaf, salt, pepper, the rind of a lemon, a wineglassful of Sherry and a cup of beef stock.
Cook until the eels are tender, strain the sauce, and thicken with butter and flour. Line a baking-dish with pastry, put the eels in it, and pour the sauce over, with sliced hard-boiled eggs on top. Cover with pastry, brush with yolk of egg, and bake for an hour in a moderate oven.* Serve either hot or cold.
*moderate oven – about 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Skin and parboil, cut into two-inch pieces, and put into a baking-pan. Dredge with flour, season with salt and pepper and add half a cup of water. Bake for twenty minutes and take it out. Thicken the gravy with a tablespoon of flour rubbed smooth with a little of the liquid. Add a tablespoon of butter, a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, and enough boiling water to make the sauce of the proper consistency. Bring to the boil and pour around the eels.
Clean and cut three pounds of eels into six-inch lengths. Cover with salt, let stand for three hours, then rinse thoroughly. Boil together for fifteen minutes one cup of vinegar, one cup of water, a sliced onion, two bay-leaves, three allspice, and a slice of lemon. Put in half of the eels and simmer until tender, take out, and cook the remaining half. Let the vinegar cool before pouring over the eels.
Take a good large eel, draw and skin it, and cut it in pieces of four inches long. Spit them crossways on a small spit, with bay leaves, or large sage leaves between each piece. When roasted, serve up the fish with butter beaten with orange or lemon juice, and some grated nutmeg.
Cut up three pounds of eels into pieces of three inches in length. Put them into a stew-pan, and cover them with Rhine wine (or two-thirds water and one-third vinegar). Add fifteen oysters, two pieces of lemon, a bouquet of herbs, one onion quartered, six cloves, three stalks celery, a pinch of cayenne, pepper and salt to taste. Stew the eels one hour, remove them from the dish, and strain the liquor. Put it back into the stew-pan with a gill* of cream and an ounce of butter rolled in flour. Simmer gently a few minutes, pour over the fish, and serve.
*gill/jill – a liquid measurement four ounces in the U.S. and five ounces in the U.K.
Image from Deposit Photos
What do you think about eating eel? Have you ever had it? Please leave a comment below.
Eel, Pie and Mash
Eel, pie and mash houses are bits of living history and are very much a London invention. The houses were a Victorian creation, though sellers had had stalls since the eighteenth century. Eels were very cheap and just swimming about in the River Thames. Strangley, they took off during a time when the heavily-polluted Thames did not have any eels swimming in its waters. The eels did arrive on the Thames though brought up on barges from Holland. These days they come from Ireland.
There are three elements to the classic meal: pie, mash and eel liquor. The pies began life as eel pies, but over time the pies were made with minced beef and onion mashed potatoes speak for themselves and the liquor is the special part. It is made from an eel gravy and is heavily flavoured parsley sauce. You must put on liberal amounts of salt, vinegar and pepper or chili on there too. They also sell stewed eels as well as the other London classic, jellied eels. You can also buy live eels to take home and cook for yourself, if you are so inclined.
They are impressive inside, they’re not ostentatious or anything like that, but being Victorian buildings they have the beautifully-tiled walls that we associate with the Victorians’ eating establishments, public houses and urinals!
I was in London over Christmas so I decided, upon my visit, I would find one and try its wares. There are three families that own the best shops: the Cookes, Manzes and the Kellys I went to F. Cooke’s in Hackney, the first to have a pie and mash house. Frederick Cooke opened his first shop in Clerkenwell in 1862 selling the “poor-man’s delicacy”.
One of his daughters married a Manze, who were an Italian family selling ice cream, and they opened some pie and mash houses too. Their own grandson now runs their first shop on Tower Bridge. The Kellys were an Irish family that arrived relatively late to the trade but are considered the best. At the peak of business, two tons of live eels were consumed per shop! Now there are around 25, so I wanted to go to one before they disappeared.
Walking into F. Cookes really felt like walking into the past. The place hasn’t changed at all for decades and is now a listed building. I ordered hot stewed eels with mash and liquor and a cup of tea. I sat down to eat them with a liberal seasoning with salt, pepper and vinegar. I like eels, so I knew I would like the food.
Eels have quite a delicate flavour, so they went very well with the bland potatoes and liquor a great winter-warmer. I also ordered some jellied eels – cooked eels set in an aspic jelly made from eel bones. They are an acquired taste, apparently. The eels themselves were good but eating them cold with the jelly was not the gastronomic treat I was expecting. Hey-ho, you win some, you lose some.
The eel, pie and mash shops are under threat today, and it is not just because of the changing tastes of we Britons, it is because the European eel is becoming threatened. Long gone are the days when people set eel traps on the mudflats of the Thames, or anywhere else, because since 1980, the numbers of eel dropped by 95 per cent. No one really knows why the eel population has crashed by this huge amount, but overfishing, pollution and changes in the ocean current brought on by climate change are the most cited potential causes. I imagine that the latter reason is the most important eels are catadromous fish, which means that they live in freshwater, but swim to the ocean to spawn (the opposite being anadromous fish, like salmon). The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) swims all the way to the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda. The eel fry – called leptocephali – take three years to swim across the ocean, until they reach an estuary.
They look nothing like an eel, and for a long time considered totally different species. At the estuary, they metamorphose into elvers, or glass eels, miniature transparent versions of the adult. You can set your clock by the elvers’ migration up the rivers, and people used to collect huge amounts of them, usually in pillowcases, to feed their families.
This no longer happens places where they used to swarm no contain hardly any. There are only a few people that fish for them, and they hold their fishing spots shrouded in secrecy because they now go for over £500 per pound! I have a soft-spot for elvers and eels – my very first scientific publication was on elvers in Mull, Scotland.
It might not be over for the eel though: a huge amount of migrating elvers were spotted swimming up the River Severn in 2010, say the BBC (see here). Hopefully this isn’t just a freak occurrence.
Unagi Don (Unadon) Recipe
As exotic as it may sound, I’m sure most of you have tried unagi (Japanese freshwater eel) at least once. Unagi sushi is a very popular item at Japanese restaurants in the U.S. Since the fish is cooked, with sweet sauce glazed on top, it can be an entry point to the world of sushi for many beginners.
Unagi is one of the most popular and also luxurious fish in Japan. Good unagi is expensive and considered as delicacy. Yet, instead of eating just a slice or two on a tiny piece of sushi rice, we tend to eat almost half a fillet on a bed of rice in Donburi (big rice bowl!) While people in Japan can make most seafood at home, we almost always buy cooked unagi at stores or restaurants. It is very rare to see fresh eels at regular stores. It requires special skills to fillet, debone, skewer, and grill to perfection.
Most unagi these days are farm raised. There are many famous and popular restaurants that specialize only in unagi throughout Japan, especially near the lakes where unagi is raised. You can see many people lining up around lunch time and many of them drive from miles away seeking the best quality unagi. The taste of fresh Unagi Don near the lake is heavenly… I still dream about that flavor even though it was years ago!
We can buy vacuum-sealed grilled unagi at Asian markets or online, e.g., U.S. fresh seafood delivery services. We recommend steamed rice… it’s so good that you can even skip unagi (what’s the point of this recipe then!?)
- 1 fillet of unagi (vacuum-sealed)
- 1 tbsp sake
- Steamed Rice
How to Make Eel Sauce
Most eel sauce recipes call for equal parts soy sauce, mirin (a Japanese rice wine), and white sugar. I added a half cup of each ingredient to a sauce pan, whisked it over medium-high heat, and let it reduce by about a third before removing it from the heat. Then I left it to cool just slightly in order to become super sticky. Keep in mind, there are a few variations to eel sauce, sometimes called Nitsume, Unagi, or Kabayaki sauce. Some recipes add additional flavor layers from a touch of rice vinegar, sake , dashi (a type of Japanese fish stock), or eel eggs. Additionally, you can adjust the amount of sugar you use to your taste.
To get the consistency right, you can add water to loosen the sauce or a cornstarch slurry to thicken. Keep in mind, the goal is to achieve a syrupy consistency akin to warm honey, and the sauce will thicken up as it cools. I found I didn’t need to add either while preparing my eel sauce.
What to Serve Eel Sauce With
Oh so many ways to use this sweet and savory sauce!
The primary use for unagi sauce is obviously for grilled eel, but there are so many different ways to enjoy it.
Unagi sauce can be used to flavor grilled vegetables, tofu, fish, chicken, and beef (perfect for barbecue season), it can be used as a sauce for sandwiches and pizzas (it’s so good on pizza!), lightly brushed on yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball), and drizzled on sushi.
Here are some recipes you can pair eel sauce with:
Did you like this Eel Sauce Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!
Unagi Don Grilled Eel Rice Bowl
- For an authentic experience, you can also service this dish in a two-tier bento lunch box, or jubako. When served like this the dish is called unaju.
- Eel is traditionally eaten during the summer months in Japan. Being rich in vitamins and minerals and protein, the dish is thought to give increased stamina, which is much needed during hot days.
Eat Like a Sicilian: 15 Delicious Recipes from This Beautiful Italian Island
The island of Sicily is a collection of many wonderful things. Over centuries it has been influenced by a succession of invaders, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Islamic Arabs, and Spanish&mdashand it has the culinary inheritance to show for it. There's a brightness and simplicity to its food but also many layers of flavor. The local produce is amazing: We love its fragrant lemons, tender greens, and juicy tomatoes. In the rolling hills are wild fennel, pistachios, and almonds, and along the coast, anchovies, sea salt, and capers. We admire the piles of juicy peaches at the Ballaro market, and the live snails and trumpet-like squash and we ogle the purple octopus, massive tuna, and glimmering sardines in Catania.
From high to low, sweet to amaro, and everything in between, Sicily can seem like a series of contrasts: It is the aggressive heat of the beating sun and the delicate touch of a lemon ice. The rich, crunchy pastries with creamy ricotta fillings. It can be over the top, like Palermo's Baroque churches, ornate curves, dusty alleys, and loud markets. And it can be incredibly serene when you stand under towering Greek temples, amongst ancient olive trees, and in peaceful citrus groves, you can feel the quiet weight of the centuries. Sicily can be as decorative as a gold-leaf ceiling or a jewel-like cassata, and as poor and rugged as its bumpy country roads. It's a thrifty sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs, a handful of briny olives, and bowl of pasta or couscous. Sicily is complex yet direct place that deserves exploring, whether in person or through its recipes.
- Combine mushrooms and water in a bowl let sit until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain mushrooms and slice 1 ⁄3” thick squeeze dry.
- Heat 2″ oil in a 14″ flat-bottomed wok until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Toss mushrooms with cornstarch. Working in batches, fry mushrooms until crisp, 1–2 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to paper towels to drain. Discard all but 2 tbsp. oil from wok heat over medium-high. Cook three-quarters of scallions and the ginger until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add soy sauce and sugar cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, 1–2 minutes. Stir in reserved mushrooms cook 1 minute. Transfer to a serving platter garnish with remaining scallions.
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Smoked Fish Brine Recipe
I love smoked fish. I didn’t think I would ever say that when I was a child. When I went on Boy Scout trips, we would get our fishing license and we would pull countless rainbow trouts out what ever stream or tributary we fished at – and I would lament the part where we would sit down and have to eat the sucker.
Then a couple years ago we went to a fish farm in the Cache Valley in Utah. My sister-in-law has had her fair share of fish – sometimes it was the only thing they could put on their table. She had so many different ways to prepare the muddy water fish. I listened and took notes, so when we were done with this fish farm adventure I could know what to do.
I gutted out my old broken grill and converted it to my ghetto smoker. And used this brine recipe – notably, I had quite a bit of marinade left over. However, it changed the flavor and of course removed all the muddy characteristics the trout had.
What I was left with, was this firm fleshed fish and an amazing amount of flavor. I was impressed. So, Nikki this is for you. Thank you for opening my eyes to brined, smoked trout, salmon and white fish.
This recipe was based on trout and salmon – but this works really on any fish. My favorite use of the smoked product is to slice thinly with a serrated knife, and place with sour creme, dill sprig on a latke – bite size. A little sea salt to top – my friends, this is great stuff.
I hope this changes your life as much as it has mine. Good Eat’s to you!