I was pretty excited to see smoked eels for sale at the East Midlands Food Festival from local Smiths Smokery. However after buying one I was quickly educated by fellow Twitterers that eels are a heavily overfished species. I had totally missed that, cod I knew , but eels less than 10 years ago my flatmate was catching them and using them as bait from the Severn.
However I am somewhat assured than Smith’s Smokery a family run business first started catching eels on the East Coast of England over thirty years ago. For many years their eels were sold live to Billingsgate Market in London or sent by lorry to Holland. Ten years ago they began smoking eels and selling them locally on farmers markets and are the only company in the UK catching and smoking their own eels from a sustainable resource.
I don’t think there could me much more scary looking that a smoked eel , it looks like a snake , but it smells like bacon so I think that got me through the preparation. Peeling back the skin and inching the oily meat from the bone. Once peeled the eel has a light pink colour and delicate flesh.
I wanted a dish that would let me taste the smoked eel since eco-guilt means it will be my last. Since we had roast chicken this weekend I had made some fresh chicken stock which pointed me hard towards risotto and rather than onion some light and fragrant leeks.
The risotto was good but didn’t pack quite the punch, there was smokiness rather than fishiness , I think next time I will try smoked mackerel or salmon also available from Smiths’
Smoked Eel and Leek Risotto
200g of risotto rice
150g of smoked eel cut into 1cm peices
1 large leek finely chopped
1.5 pints of chicken or fish stock
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 tsp of butter
Salt and Pepper to season
- Melt the butter in the pan
- Fry the risotto rice until translucent
- Add the leeks and garlic
- Slowly add the stock, a ladle at a time stirring until absorbed
- For the last 2 minutes stir in the eel
- Season with salt and pepper.