The Eel - Part One a boy and his hands

The Eel - Part One a boy and his hands

I love eel.  It's something that we see as a delicacy and to be respected.  After all eels can climb waterfalls of upto 20m thats a creature who needs some respect given!  And of course they are slow growing and long lived.  The children and I have a rule that the first one goes back.  So when the kids caught their first eel of the year this monday they wished it well and watched it swim off up the river.  

Last night just as the sun was starting to get lower in the sky the kids wanted to take the dogs for a walk.  A chilly but other wise lovely evening, the tide was out and we looked for unusual shells as we wondered along the shore to the river that runs through the sand to the sea.  Here I stopped, a moment to just take in the moment (and not get my feet wet wading across with the kids!).  As I took in the beauty of the hills at sun set, lit up in the reflection of the dipping sun there was a shout from the river.

My youngest child had spotted an eel.  He had no rod, no hook, no bait.  But he did have his hands.  I watched in amusement as he went racing down the river, constantly outwitted by the wise old eel.  Tripping, he ended up in the freezing water but this didn't chill his enthusiasm.  Then with swift determination this 10 year old stuck his arms into the river again and lifted them, eel on board.  He had done it!

Shivering he came out and looked at me. "Think I can feed us all for a couple of days on that mum, am I good at the wild food?".  I gently laughed at this proud hunter gatherer, "lets see you clean it out first then we will see".  It wasnt the hunt or the kill that had filled him with excitment but the fact that he had provided for his family himself. A memory I wont forget

By torch light we cleaned the eel as we discussed which was the best way to prepare it.  Before I had to send them off to bed they had put the eel to bed tucked up in salt for the night.  This is only stage one of what we will do.  

The Cure

Kosha salt (or plain non-iodised salt)

Fresh ground black pepper

dark brown sugar

zest of 2 lemons


Gut but leave skin on.

Mix all the ingredients together, rub into the eel all over.

Place a layer of the salt mix in the bottom of a plastic box big enough to hold the eel and lay it on top.  Pour the rest of the salt over the top.  Cover and chill overnight.  

In the morning remove from the box and rinse off the salt.

To be continued........................

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