17 August, 2008
Smoked EelTags: deli, eel, fish, german, smoke
“Out in the wild, they are slippery slimy creatures… On the plate, though, it’s a different story.”
On my recent trip to visit family, we had lunch at a german restaurant called the Hofbrauhaus — as close to an authentic german beer garden as I’ve seen since my summer in Europe, 20 years ago. Over a lunch of grilled sausage, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut, my father-in-law described a vivid memory from his youth, where his German grandfather would keep a piece of smoked eel wrapped in wax paper on the window sill. He told me that he hadn’t had it in years, but had scoured the authentic delicatessens in Cincinnati to no avail. He did say that he had managed to find some at a delicatessen here in Northern Virginia, upwards of 30 years ago, and he wondered if the place was still in business. I told him that I knew of one in the area that he was talking about, but wasn’t sure if it was the exact same place. I promised that I would stop in the next time I was in the neighborhood and see if they had any eel for sale.
Well, I sort of forgot about it. Then I called him to talk about something else, and he said “you found it!” After I got over my confusion, he said he was sure I was calling him to tell him I had found some smoked eel for him. I decided that my priority project for the next day was to make a trip out to the German deli and confirm if it was even available. Sure enough, they had some — though it was from a Canadian company, in a vacuum sealed package, and frozen. I bought the two larger of the four pieced they had, put it all in an insulated envelope, picked up a slab of dry ice, and headed off to Fedex.
Admitting that I was shipping something with dry ice was probably my first mistake. I couldn’t use their white overnight boxes, but had to purchase a box, and I paid a small fortune in shipping fees. It arrived the next day, and my father-in-law was thrilled.
I sent him an email to find out how it was, and if it was everything he remembered. He reported that he recalled being able to flake it off to eat on a cracker, and what I sent was much firmer than he remembered, but that the smell, and the flavor was perfect. And now, he’s looking for more. So I did a little google searching to see what’s out there. Most companies that sell it are in the UK.
Globe and Mail : “Serving up a slithery, dwindling delicacy,” a news story (6/17/07) about how the Canadian eel population is in decline, down 90% from 30 years ago.
Brown & Forrest, U.K. Purveyors of the smoked eel, salmon and other smoked foods.
Medallion Smoked Salmon, based in Prince Edward Isle, Canada, 1 888 448-3001
Ummera (Ireland) offers smoked silver eel and will lets you subscribe to a mailing list that will alert you when they have product to ship.
Blog : confessions of a food nazi : smoked eel recipes “I don’t know what the prejudice is about eels. Sure out in the wild they are slippery slimy creatures, things you wouldn’t want to feel brush your leg while swimming in a lake. On the plate, though, is a different story.”
I decided to do a search for the german name (Aal Filet geräuchert), and came up with a german company that appears to be willing to ship it. The site is in German, and the prices are given in euros.