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How to Prepare and Smoke an Eel

15-Apr-2013 | Contributed by: Nick Carnachan

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Smoked Eel

Catch it. Smoke it. Eat it. You can get great results out of even a basic smoker to create a delicious smoked eel dish.

Did you know that eels sell for approximately 30 pounds a kilo in the UK, yet us kiwis can easily go to an estuary, river or a creek and catch an eel?

There are many methods of catching eels, but the common method I used to use a lot when I was a child is to follow a creek bed at night with a spear and a spot light. It doesn’t take very long at all to spot an eel.

I am not a fan at all of killing without reason so I don’t kill eels if I’m not going to eat them. If, like me, you enjoy eating smoked eel, below is a step-by-step guide to smoking eels. There are other methods, but this works well and is relatively quick and easy.

Step 1- Use rubber kitchen gloves, as they are slimy little fellas. Take the eel and place in a plastic bag with a good few handfuls of salt. Shake so that the eel is covered. Leave for a couple of hours. This helps draw some moisture from the skin and allows you to scrape the slime off easier.

Step 2 – Take eel out of salt and, using a knife, scrape as much of the slime off the fish and then wash excess salt off. Gut the eel from it’s anus to its jaw and wash out gut cavity.

Step 3 – Mix 1kg of salt with 7 - 8 litres of water or 500 grams with four litres. Place the eel into the mix for approximately 8-10 minutes. Dry thoroughly using an old towel or cloth. Hang in dry place for a couple of hours, away from flies and your cat, to dry off some more.

Step 4 – Take the now dry eel and prepare for smoking. Depending on the size of your smoker, either hang the eel with head on or off, or for those using smaller smokers butterfly the eel and cut into 10cm lengths. Cover flesh in some brown sugar to enhance flavours.

Step 5 – Prepare your smoker using Manuka or Pohutakawa chips. A few rosemary twigs will add a bit more flavour. For best results, smoke over a longer period at a cooler temp, but you can still get great results out of a basic smoker.

Ready to eat your eel? Have a look at my smoked eel pate recipe!

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