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European Peasant Cookery
by Elisabeth Luard

Buy your eel alive from the tank and have the fishmonger kill it, bleed it and slice it ready for sousing - the preferred English way with this rich meat. Jellied eels are still a favourite racecourse and sporting snack, as well as having long been the favourite fast food of Cockney London's East End.
Quantity: Serves 4 race-goers
Time: Start the day before
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 2-3 hours


    • About 750g/1½ Ib chunked eel, unskinned
    • Parsley
    • Bay leaves
    • Onion
    • Distilled malt vinegar
    • Salt and 6 peppercorns

Utensils: A saucepan, a deep casserole


Put the eel chunks in a roomy pan with enough cold water to cover. Bring the water to the boil, and then turn off the heat. Lift out the eel and you will find the skin comes off easily. Loosely pack the sections of eel vertically in a deep casserole - they should not reach more than 3/4 of the way up. Put a few herbs in between the sections: sprigs of parsley, bay leaves, and a sliced onion. Cover all with a mixture of half vinegar, half water, filling the dish right to the brim. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of salt and the peppercorns.

Cover the dish and put it to bake in a slow oven, 120°C/250°F/Gas 1/2 - for 2-3 hours, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove the herbs and leave overnight to cool in the dish. The next day, the bones will have dissolved and the fish will be surrounded by a rich sharp jelly. Nice with a sharp little sauce of chopped parsley, raw onion and capers moistened with vinegar.

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