Smoked Eel Satisfaction

After reading this article in the May issue of Saveur, I found myself with both a fascination and an appetite for eel. Our fish vendor, Blue Moon, had recently returned to the greenmarket and the very next Saturday I made a point of buying some smoked eel.

My first instinct after reading the article was to make an eel dish similar to what I’ve eaten in Japanese restaurants, something to top with a sweet sauce and serve with rice. But once I had some smoked eel in my hands (this stuff has a pungent smokey scent that makes you think of bacon, not sushi) I was on a wild internet goose chase for a recipe or some inspiration for a dish I might prepare. After much digging, I discovered a few British recipes suggesting the smoked eel be paired with potato pancakes and sour cream, I decided to take a shot a pairing the eel with some pierogies (from the “Saugerties pierogi lady”, recently gifted to me by the wonderful Ray Bradley) and creme fraiche with fresh grated horseradish.

You should have seen Brad’s face when I told him what we’d be eating for dinner – I admit it sounded like an odd combo – and I thought he’d never even try it after he watched me separate the eel flesh from the spine. But he couldn’t resist when the plates with pierogies came out, and the eel? It was out of this world. The smokey flavor was an awesome complement to the creamy potato pierogi filling and the horseradish, the perfect spicy accent to the whole dish (after all, you eat your eel sushi with wasabi, don’t you?). Since then we’ve simplified and eat the smoked eel and horseradish cream on toasts.

Smoked Eel and Chives with Horseradish Creme on Toast

You’re welcome internets, here is an approachable (and delicious) recipe for smoked eel.

Smoked Eel and Chives with Horseradish Creme on Toast

  • ½ pound smoked eel, skin and spine removed, shredded or finely chopped
  • handful of chives, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • A few tablespoons creme fraiche
  • grated fresh horseradish*
  • toasts for serving

Combine eel, chives, lemon zest and juice. Allow to rest, salt to taste before serving. You might be tempted to add oil to this, but remember the eel is a oily fish – it won’t be dry.

Mix creme fraiche (you could also use sour cream) with finely grated (I use my microplane) fresh horseradish – you can determine the ratio depending on how much of the horseradish spiciness you prefer.

Make some toasts from a good baguette.

Top the toasts with a light “schmear” of the horseradish cream and pile on a bit of the smoked eel. Serve and watch your guests become ravenous for more.

*As fresh horseradish becomes unavailable this summer, I’ll try using prepared instead. 10 points for other ideas or suggestions.

4 Responses to “Smoked Eel Satisfaction”

  1. #

    Kate says:

    Sounds delicious! And I’ve heard terrible things about the provenance of sushi restaurant eel, so it’s nice to know about a better source!

    • #

      Heather says:

      Yes! Blue Moon rocks. All of their smoked fish is good, but the eel is truly the tits. The smoked monkfish makes a good sub for this recipe, but it’s not as rich and oily so you’ll want to add a dash of olive oil.

  2. #

    Taylor says:

    Simple, yet wholly adventurous! I always order eel while sushi-dining (and, like Kate, have recently learned more about sushi-sourcing… have eaten less sushi since), but have never prepared it myself. I love that your plans for the meal changed once you purchased the smoked eel and, from the smell, realized you were going to take things in a different direction in terms of pairings.

    What did you drink with this, out of curiosity? What do you recommend?

    • #

      Heather says:

      Thanks Taylor! If you’re wanting to pair a white wine, remember it’s an oily, smokey fish, so it’d have to be something to hold up to that – probably a buttery chardonnay.

      But my real recommendation? Good beer! I think we drank it with an IPA, although a Belgian would probably be a great match.

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