This Month's Recipe...
February – Pan-Fried Smoked Eel with Mustard
From page 342 of Kitchenella.
Fresh eel has a strong cartilage which only breaks down and becomes tender after a long simmer. It is a lovely fish, however, and I like it simmered in a stew with shallots, garlic, olive oil, wine, tomato, Pernod and saffron, just as for bouillabaisse. But smoked eel is also a revelation, because the long time in the smoker will also break down any toughness.
Rich, delicate and tender, the fillets are elegant eaten cold as a starter with horseradish cream and a watercress salad, or this way, as a main course, sautéed in a pan – a dish I ate at the Severn and Wye Smokery, in Gloucestershire, cooked by chef Tania Steytler. Serve with mashed potato and watercress.
4 slices of speck (air-dried ham) or thinly cut smoked streaky bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
walnut-sized lump of butter
4 large smoked eel fillets
2 wineglasses white wine or cider
2 tablespoons Dijon seed mustard (moutarde de Meaux)
4 tbsps single cream
salt and black pepper
Have ready 4 warmed plates. Fry the ham in half the oil until it is crisp, place on a towel to drain and set aside. Wipe out the pan and reheat, adding the butter. Fry the eel fillets on both sides for 1 minute then put each on a plate.
Quickly add the wine to the pan and boil to reduce by one-third. Add the mustard and cream, bring to the boil then season. Pour some over the eel fillets on each plate, and serve with a slice of crisp ham.