Last Updated on 20th July 2022 by Pauline Loughlin
If you’ve ever seen eel for sale in your grocery or seafood market, you may have shied away from it because you thought it was slimy and disgusting or you simply didn’t know how to cook eel.
If you’ve never had to eel before, once you cook it, you’ll notice it has a taste that’s a lot like squid or lobster. This is a sweet seafood that tends to be somewhat firm and chewy and yet soft at the same time.
Eels work really well in conjunction with strongly flavored foods and seasonings, and they can be prepared a few different ways.
Learning to cook eel can expand your culinary skills and give you another food to work with in the kitchen.
I will share with you a few methods for preparing eels, and you can choose the one you like best.
How to Clean Eel
Before you cook eel, you may need to clean and prepare it. You should always wash eel before seasoning it or trying to cook it up, and if it still has the skin attached, you will want to remove that.
To remove the skin, you will need to make a slit in the skin and then cut under it with a sharp paring knife or fish knife. Keep slicing under the skin all the way down and then peel the skin pack and remove it.
If the skin is having trouble peeling, you may need pliers to assist, or you may need to cut under the skin further. Once the skin if fully removed, you can rinse the eel under running water and pat it dry before seasoning it and cooking it up.
How Do You Cook Eel?
Let’s start off with a pan-frying method it’s really simple and gives you tasty eel dish.
- 1 pound of eel
- 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 teaspoon of seafood seasoning
- 3 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of chopped onion
- 1 cup of blended oil
- 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- Start by cleaning the eel and skinning it. Toss the skin and cut the remaining eel into chunks.
- In a bowl, mixed together black pepper, garlic, onion, salt, seafood seasoning, flour, and oil.
- Dredge the eel in this mixture and allow it to marinate in the fridge for about an hour.
- Place the eel into skillet on the stove and warm on medium heat, cooking for about 7 minutes until the eel turns golden brown.
- Add in the vinegar and cook until about half of that has evaporated.
- Then, add the butter and cook until the butter is melted completely.
Remove the eel from the skillet and drizzle the butter sauce from the pan over it to serve.
How to Cook Eel for Sushi
Eel is often used in sushi, particularly in one type known as unagi sushi. To cook the eel for this dish, you will need to bake it in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the eel has cooked fully, you can add it to the rest of your sushi ingredients.
While most people think of sushi as containing raw ingredients and raw fish, it often contains cooked ingredients, even cooked meat and seafood.
How to Cook Frozen Eel
Is it necessary to thaw out frozen eel? You can actually use it frozen without needing to thaw it at all. Here is how to cook frozen broiled eel or raw eel.
Put the package of frozen eel into a pot of boiling hot water and cook it for 5 minutes at high heat. You don’t have to prepare the eel at all beforehand.
Some eel is sold in a packet designed for boiling, but depending on how it is packaged, you may need to take the eel out of its packaging and place it directly into the pot of boiling water to cook it.
That’s all there is to it, and in a matter of minutes you will have delicious boiled eel. You can season it from there, after you take the packet out of the water.
You could even microwave frozen eel without needing to thaw it out first.
Simply place the frozen eel a microwave safe plate and warm it on high in the microwave for 3-5 minutes.
How to BBQ Eel
BBQ eel is used in some sushi dishes as well as other types of seafood dishes.
To barbecue it, you should bake or grill it first, and then add your barbecue sauce. This ensures that the eel reaches the proper level of tenderness before you sauce it up.
You can use one of the cooking methods above to make BBQ eel, basting it with a brush and some barbecue sauce after it cooks, or you can cook it up on the grill.
To grill eel, heat up the grill at medium and oil the grill to prevent sticking.
Then, cook the eel until it browns slightly and turns completely white all the way through.
How to Reheat Eel
I gave you a method earlier for reheating and cooking frozen eel, but if you have been refrigerating the eel, here is how you can reheat it to serve.
Eel is a delicate seafood, meaning that if you don’t cook it and reheat it properly, you can end up with the wrong texture and level of firmness, so you need to be careful about the method that you use.
My preferred way to reheat eel is on the grill, placing it on oiled aluminum foil. Cook it at medium heat for three minutes with the foil facing down.
Your eel should come out juicy and tender rather than dry and tough, as it might be if you didn’t reheat it properly.
Now that you know how to cook eel, there is no need to be intimidated by it, and you can make this sweet seafood in your own home.
I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food! You can find my Facebook here