In season all the year, but not so well-conditioned in April and May as in other months.
First kill, then skin, empty, and wash them as clean as possible; cut them into four-inch lengths, and dry them, well in a soft cloth. Season them with fine salt, and white pepper, or cayenne, flour them thickly, and fry them a fine brown in boiling lard; drain and dry them as directed for soles, and send them to table with plain melted butter and a lemon, or the sauce-cruets. Eels are sometimes dipped into batter and then tried; or into egg and fine bread-crumbs (mixed with minced parsley or not, at pleasure), and served with plenty of crisped parsley round, and on them.
It is an improvement for these modes of dressing the fish to open them entirely and remove the bones: the smaller parts should be thrown into the pan a minute or two later than the thicker portions of the bodies, or they will not be equally done.
Pare a fine lemon, and strip from it entirely the white inner rind, slice it, and remove the pips with care, put it with a blade of mace, a small half-teaspoonful of white pepper-corns, nearly twice as much of salt, and a moderate-sized bunch of parsley, into three pints of cold water, bring them gently to boil, and simmer them for twenty minutes; let them become quite cold, then put in three pounds of eels skinned, and cleaned with great nicety, and cut into lengths of three or four inches; simmer them very softly from ten to fifteen minutes, lift them with a slice into a very hot dish, and serve them with a good Dutch sauce, or with parsley and butter acidulated with lemon-juice, or with vinegar.
Skin, empty, and wash as clean as possible, two or three fine eels, cut them into short lengths, and just cover them with cold water; add sufficient salt and cayenne to season them, and stew them very softly indeed from fifteen to twenty minutes, or longer should they require it. When they are nearly done, strew over them a tablespoonful of minced parsley, thicken the sauce with a teaspoonful of flour mixed with a slice of butter, and add a quarter-pint or more of clotted cream. Give the whole a boil, lift the fish into a. hot dish, and stir briskly the juice of half a lemon into the sauce; pour it upon the eels, and serve them immediately. Very sweet thick cream is, we think, preferable to clotted cream for this dish. The sauce should be of a good consistence, and a dessertspoonful of flour will be needed for a large dish of the stew, and from one and a half to two ounces of butter. The size of the fish must determine the precise quantity of liquid and of seasoning which they will require.
By substituting pale veal gravy for water, and thin strips of lemon-rind for the parsley, this may be converted into a white fricasse of eels: a flavouring of mace must then be added to it, and the beaten yolks of two or three eggs, mixed with a couple of spoonsful of cream, must be stirred into the sauce before the lemon-juice, but it must on no account be allowed to boil afterwards. Rich brown gravy and port wine highly spiced, with acid as above, will give another variety of stewed eels. For this dish the fish are sometimes fried before they are laid into the sauce.