This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Found in sluggish streams and mill ponds; plentiful in countries where the farms are d i -vided by dykes or ditches and where ponds abound; but not in general use in this country.
The celebrated "Linlithgow" recipe for cooking eels: Kill, clean, and rub them well with salt, slit them up belly-way, and remove the bone. Next, wash well and dry, then cut into 4-inch lengths; dredge well with flour. Dip the pieces in a thickish batter made of melted butter and yolk of egg, seasoned to taste with salt, cayenne, and a mince of parsley, sige and shallot. Roll in breadcrumbs twice over, then broil on a clear but slow fire till well done. Serve with either melted butter or anchovy sauce.
The great culinary artist, Ude, gives the following directions for the skinning of eels: "Take some live ones, throw them into the fire, and, as they are twisting and turning about on all sides, lay hold of them with a towel in your hand, and skin them." That mode certainly appears to us singularly cruel. Dr. Kitchener endeavored to have eels killed in as humane a manner as possible. "With a sharp-pointed skewer," he says, "pierce the spinal marrow through the back part of the skull; life will instantly cease." Another cook says: " Dip all over for an instant in boiling water; then skin." Another says: "Stun them with a blow upon the head, cut an incision around the neck, catch the edge of the skin, holding by a cloth, and pull it off".
Large eels split, bone taken out, cut in lengths, seasoned, breaded, fried, sauce, or butter and lemon. S3 i.wed. Eels - For ordinary tables they are not skinned. "The present consumption of eelsinLon-don aggregate about 1,650 tons a year, value £130,-000. It is estimated that some 24,000 regular customers contract for their supplies of this fish, and sell them again retail. The London stewed eel trade is in fact a considerable one, and the enterprising, though for the most part humble, caterers engaged in it render essential service to the poorer classes by supplying at all hours and at very low figures this highly nutrious food in a cooked condition. Some of the large stewed eel vendors use a ton of fish weekly. The great bulk of the eels consumed in London, whether in the form of the aristocratic eel a la Tartare, and a la Ponlette, or the more plebeian eel soup and eel pies, comes either from the Fens or from Holland and Germany".
Stewed and served in the sauce with wine.
In pieces, boiled in salted water, served with maitre d' hotel sauce and potatoes.
Split, boned, cut in long pieces, dipped in batter, fried; with rings of dry-fried onions.
In Scottish style; cut up 'and salted for an hour; washed, stewed in broth with vegetables and herbs; liquor strained, thickened with flour; squares of buttered toast to serve it on.
Thin buttered sauce made with herbs, little lemon peel, salt; cut up eels stewed in it; parsley and lemon.
Cut in lengths, stewed in water with salt and pepper, thickened with flour; chopped parsley added at serving.
Pieces rolled in flour which is seasoned, placed in a dish lined with paste, broth poured in; covered with top cnust, baked an hour.
Eels full length skewered and tied into ring-ghape, parboiled in seasoned broth, taken up, double breaded, fried in wire basket, served with tartare sauce in center of the ring; garnished.
Eels cooked in the coals. Cleaned, coiled up, seasoned, wrapped in buttered paper, covered with embers and ashes in the open fire-place; paper removed, served with butter and bread.
Made of eel partly fried in butter, with broth, wine, tomatoes, flour, etc.;eels and toast served in it.
In spite of the prejudice against eels, they make an excellent pie, and were for centuries thought fit for royal banquets and monastic tables. If eels went into monastic refec tories, they have a brevet for any other dining-room. Eels are equally good fried, stewed, or roasted. For a recipe tor the latter we refer our readers to I/.aak Walton's charming book; it is one he recommends by the strong statement, "that when he gets an eel dressed according to it, he wishes it were as long and as big as the eel caught in Peterborough Uiver in 1667 - a yard and three-quarters long".
Eels split and boned, cut into 4 inch lengths, flattened; a turban mould or deep cake mould lined with fish forcemeat containing truffles and mushrooms; fillets put in upright-way, center filled with forcemeat, steamed an honr, turned out; sauce of fried truffles in Bechamel, truffles garnish and prawns.