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Eel recipes for Baked, Simmered, Fried, Broiled, Poached, Smoked and Grilled Eel


The American eel, Anguilla rostrata, belongs to the freshwater eel family, Anguillidae. Eels are snake-shaped and covered with a mucous layer that renders them slimy to the touch despite the presence of minute scales. A continuous, low fin runs from the middle of the back, around the tail, and ends behind the vent. Small pectoral fins originate near the midline and right away following to the head and gill-covers. Eels are generally dark olive, yellowish or slate-gray above and light below. The American eel is catadromous; it spawns in oceanic waters but uses freshwater, brackish and estuarine systems for most of its developmental life. Sexually mature adults, called silver eels, migrate from freshwater to the Sargasso Sea in fall. Adults are thought to die after spawning.

Eel recipes:

Eel, Anguillidae family

American Eel
American eels average 1.5 feet (46 cm) in length, but they can reach up to 5 feet (152 cm). Eel has a rich, firm, sweet taste. The flesh is covered by smooth, scaleless skin. Meat can sometimes be tough. The flavor is delicate, but the flesh is rich, so often something to compliment this is good.
Eel meat is quite firm with a high fat content and full-bodied, distinctive flavor. The raw flesh is gray but turns lighter when cooked, and it has a small, fine flake. The skin is not eaten. The flavor of smaller eels (elvers) is so subtle that it can easily be lost; they must be cooked briefly. Yield is 60 percent skinless fillets from whole eel.

Best Cooking:

Larger eels can have a lot of fat, they are better for grilling. The vinegar sauce nicely cuts the fatness of the eel. Smaller specimens could be cooked in a different ways, including stews and braises. They are good chopped into sections, cooked with a little garlic, shallots and parsley and with white wine. They could be roasted, poached, braised, or hot-smoked.

How to Skin Eel:

The eel needs to be skinned, usually accomplished by putting the head on a hook or nail, cutting the skin around the neck area and peeling the skin back inside out towards the tail, like taking off a sock.

Killing and cleaning Eel:

The simplest method of killing eels is to put them in a deep container (they can jump and escape) and rouse them with a good sprinkling of salt; it will kill them and remove much of the slime from their skin.
Another good method of removing slime is to immerse the eels in 1 percent ammonia solution, made by adding one part of ammonia liquor to 100 parts of water.
Newly killed eels should be washed thoroughly up to half an hour in cold clean water, followed by very careful scraping the skin, may be necessary to remove final traces of slime. Gut the washed eels, taking care to slit the belly 2.5cm or so beyond the vent in order to remove the kidney; scrub the gut cavity and wash it out carefully to remove all traces of blood from the backbone and throat, and then rinse the eels again.

Freezing and cold storage:

Eels have a high fat content and should therefore be well protected against rancidity and drying out; the fish should be glazed and then sealed in suitable flexible packaging. Eels should not be frozen ungutted or their normally white flesh will be discolored by blood. When frozen correctly and stored at minus 30C, eels should keep in good condition for at least 6 months.

Nutrition Value:

Eel is low in Sodium. It is a good source of Phosphorus, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin A and Vitamin B12.
Nutritional Information Serving = 100 g of raw edible food, wild species: Calories 184 g, Total Fat 11.6 g, Total Protein 18.4 g, Omega-3 0.58 g, Cholesterol 126 mg, Sodium 51 mg.

Notes:

There may be more than 1,000 elvers in 1 pound. Adult eels are at their plumpest and best in autumn, when they have turned silver with almost black backs. Females weigh three times as much as males. Eels harvested from stagnant water or held too long in tanks can have a muddy flavor. Eel is best bought while still alive, or the flesh can be soft and mushy.
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