Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eel in green sauce

I've had another Dutch success- though this time the inspiration seems to have come from Belgium.
Still, eel in green sauce is also eaten in Holland and now it's part of my repertoire as well.
Originally made with river eel, here in Aus it seems more likely that the dish will be made with sea eel, but the concept remains the same.
It might be 'in green sauce', but I find the result to be rather more yellow than green. I guess this may change with different herb ratios or eggs that aren't quite so happy and free-range, and I have yet to report the findings if I were to use fresh herbs (rather than dried as the recipe suggests)- but you get the drift.
This is another gem from that brilliant work of the 1970's 'Dutch and Belgian Cooking'.
You see, despite all evidence that this book is less than exemplary when it comes to Dutch cuisine, I live in hope.

First... find your eel.
In my case a certain amount of scouting around town turned up Win Sam Seafood, in Glen Waverley, who regularly display Australian eel, but it is worth checking before you set out. After all, it's not your most common fish item.
I also found that Ducgo Live Seafood in Box Hill often has eel, but they were down on stock when I called.

Eel in Green Sauce- "Paling in het groen"

  • 1kg eel, cleaned
  • 3 Tspn butter
  • 6 shallots finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp tried tarragon
  • 2 Tspn finely chopped fresh parseley
  • 1/2 tsp salt & pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 eggs yolks- lightly beaten
  • Juice 1/2 lemon

Cut the eel into 5cm pieces. Heat the butter in a fry-pan and saute eel over moderately high heat until pieces are lightly browned on all sides.
Add the shallots, herbs, salt and pepper, white wine and just enough water to barely cover the eels. Bring the dish to a simmer, cover the pan and cook gently for 6-8 minutes or until the eel is tender when tested with a skewer.
Remove the eels to a serving dish and set aside. Ladle a small amount of the hot pan liquid into the beaten eggs yolks and whisk thoroughly. Then pour the whisked egg mixture back into the pan liquid, along with the lemon juice- whisking continuously until slightly thickened.

Note: do not allow the mixture to boil, particularly after the eggs have been added or it will cook the egg proteins into unattractive milky strands.
Not so appealing.
Pour the sauce over the eels in the serving dish and place in the fridge to chill.
Serve cold, garnished with extra parsley and heavy, dark bread like pumpernickel, to scoop up the sauce.
Surprisingly sweet, the dish has a velvety, creamy texture and is lovely in a small serve as a starter, or as a larger dish for mains.

Perfect for warmer days.

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