Eel is a holiday classic at my house, but should be enjoyed at all times. This is a classic Italian preparation that produces tons of flavor. When properly marinated, the sugar and the vinegar makes for a mild eel that even my most suspicious friends enjoy.
Have your fishmonger remove the scaly outer skin for you. If not, take out the pliers and remove from right below the head down–one strong pull and it will give.Fresh garlic is a must. Give it a gentle smash.Let this reduce, it’s worth the wait.Eel pre-cooked almost looks just like red snapper.Give each piece a healthy dredge to get that good crisp.Make sure they are all uniformly golden brown. Keep the garlic in the mix as well overnight. Top with fresh marjoram leaves for an added note.
– 1 3 lb. eel
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– 3 cups red wine vinegar
– 9 garlic cloves
– 1 cup flour
– Salt & Pepper
– 1 Tbsp. marjoram
– 1 Tbsp. oregano
– Olive oil for frying (approximately 2-3 cups)
– Good olive oil for drizzling
1) Combine sugar, garlic, and red wine vinegar in a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil, then lessen heat slightly. Cook till reduced by just more than 1/3 stirring often, approximately 25 minutes. Place to the side.
2) Cut the eel into 2 x 1 inch pieces and top with sea salt and pepper. Add one cup flour to a bowl for dredging.
3) Fill the bottom of a medium sized cast iron pan with olive oil. Oil should be about 2 inches in height. You are going to fry the eel in batches so don’t use too large of a pan–your oil will lose its heat. Heat the oil so that a pinch of flower instantly bubbles in it.
4) Dredge four or five pieces of eel in flour and drop into oil. The eel should instantly bubble aggressively. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn over to the other side and cook for another 3 minutes. Cook in batches. All parts of your eel should have a golden brown coat. Remove eel and place on a rack or paper towel to drain.
5) Place eel in a mixing bowl and pour the vinegar reduction over it. Toss to coat all pieces. Chop oregano and toss with eel and marinade. Store covered overnight.
6) Remove from storage container and place in serving bowl. Drizzle a bit of good olive oil over eel and top with whole marjoram leaves. Season with fresh pepper and just a pinch of sea salt.