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If you are not that familiar with water animals, you may actually mistake an eel for a snake. With its weird face and slimy body, would you believe that this fish is sought after all over the world? A kilogram of eel meat can cost as much as a thousand dollars.
What does eel taste like? Is this fish so good that it’s worth gold? Let me guide you on how good an eel taste like and the reasons why people are going crazy about this exotic delicacy.
What is an Eel?
An Eel in the nature
If you’re watching a lot of nature shows, you might have seen what an eel is. It may look like a snake that just had his lunch from a buffet warming tray, but it is actually a kind of fish. Eels can grow as much as four meters long and as heavy as 25 kilograms.
They don’t have any pelvic fins, and most of them don’t have pectoral fins as well. The edible type of eel is the freshwater eel or unagi, and the marine eel called anago.
What does eel taste like?
Grilled eel in the pan
Eels taste really good. The texture of the meat is soft yet firm, has a nice chew on it, and it doesn’t have that fishy aftertaste. Although saltwater eels have thicker skins and tougher meat than fresh water ones, both still taste good.
Some might say that eel meat tastes a little bland, but it is not. The taste is just light, somehow like the taste of squid meat, only a with a pinch of sweetness. The best thing I like about eel meat is how absorbent it is with sauces and seasoning. Eel is especially delicious when topped with a sauce, like soy sauce or gochujang, and it even tastes great with a garnish of yuzu, or even lemons or lemon juice. Served with a bowl of wild rice and flavorful toppings, the simple taste of eel will be seem much more complex.
It probably depends on the way eels are cooked that people are using meat textures as references as to what eels taste like. Some people who are fond of exotic food say that it taste like snakes and frogs. Some people that don’t have anything to compare it to say that it tastes like chicken.
One of the closest comparisons is salmon, not smoked salmon but raw one. Personally, the best meat that comes close to an eel’s for me is catfish meat.
Eel delicacies all around the world
a bowl of hot rice topped with pieces of eels cooked in kabayaki style
In Japan, where eel meat is considered an important part of their cuisine, eels are popularly cooked as kabayaki, where the fish is butterflied through the belly or back, marinated in a soy sauce-based mixture, then grilled. In a different dish, unadon, the serving is in a donburi type of bowl of hot rice topped with pieces of eels cooked in kabayaki style.
In England, jellied eels are the most common means of eating this fish. The eel meat is chopped and boiled in a seasoned stock. Once it comes to the desired consistency, it is left to cool and set, thus forming a jelly-like texture. It is eaten cold.
The Spanish dish angula is an expensive delicacy in Spain and parts of Europe. It is composed of elvers, or young eels, like whitebait. It is sautéed with olive oil, garlic, and chili pepper. A serving of this dish costs around a staggering $100 and also affects the population of eels since the fingerlings are consumed even before they have the chance to grow and reproduce.
Smoked eel is a popular and easy recipe that is widespread globally. Even you can try smoking an eel. You can watch a video of the recipe here.
Health benefits of eating eel
Fresh eel and tongs
Aside from its great taste, eel meat has proven to have a lot of nutritional value. The reason why eel meat is such a staple food in southeast Asia especially in Japan is because of its impact on health.
Eel meat has high contents of phosphorus, which balance the body’s PH levels and aids in digestion. It also helps in metabolism and nutrient absorption. It detoxifies the body thru urination and excretion, and aids in maintaining strong bones.
Eel meat is packed with vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, D, and E, which is essential to our body’s good health and well-being. It is also high in omega-3, which aids in lowering cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the chances of developing arthritis and type-2 diabetes.
The “other” benefits of eating eel
a eel sushi on the spoon
In Japan and some parts of the world, people are including eel meat in their regular diet not just for the good taste and health benefits, but also for the “other” benefits. Mostly, aged men and women resort to eating eel to increase their “stamina”. It turns out that eel is one of the nature’s aphrodisiacs.
The high omega-3 content of eel is not only for low blood cholesterol and blood pressure, but it also boosts libido, sexual performance, and drive. It elevates the level of dopamine, the hormone responsible for orgasm.
Eel meat also contains L-arginine, which fixes erection problems and enhances duration. No wonder this fish is expensive.
If you want to try out eel meat, the best way to go is to find an authentic Japanese restaurant. For your first time, a good serving of unadon or kabayaki will leave you a great impression on how delicious eel meat can be.
Bring a date with you, after all, this fish is more than just delish. What do you think? If you have any questions feel free to comment below.