American eel, a Chesapeake tradition, presented by Pot Pie Farm

The American eel, Anguilla rostrata, a smooth and snake-like fish, is found throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Yesterday, at the Chesapeake Folk Festival held at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, we watched eel prepared and grilled with vegetables. And it was delicious! Nope, didn’t taste like chicken; had a texture sort of like perch, and a savory, terrific taste.

Mark Connolly is a Talbot County Waterman. He and his wife, Carol Bean of Pot Pie Farm offered a cooking demonstration at the annual Folk Festival yesterday (more on the festival later, because it was fabulous! All about Chesapeake Maritime traditions – from food and music to story telling and demonstrations of all kinds. Festival rocked.) Mark caught this eel near Pot Pie Farm, on Friday.

As part of Pot Pie Farm’s CSA, subscribers get fresh local seafood in addition to the fruits, vegetables and herbs sustainably grown on Pot Pie Farm, near Wittman. Carol and Mark are steeped in local traditions, and offer a wide range of expertise and abilities. You can join the CSA or learn more about their farm to table dinners, demonstrations and fresh seafood by calling 410-829-1829, or visiting the St. Michaels FRESHFARM market on Saturday mornings. Carol is a licensed seafood handler, and can work with you for any size seafood order, whether for a small party (she’s a talented and creative caterer as well) – or a large event.

(warning, images of eel preparation are graphic. I wouldn’t have posted this a year ago, but rural life on the Chesapeake is growing on me.)

Step one – Nail it to a board.

Cut around the head, from both directions.

Using pliers, grab the skin, hold tightly and pull.

Then, simply fillet the eel as you would fillet a fish. It has a central backbone.

Carol chose a simple method of preparation – cut the eel, and with fresh marinated vegetables from Pot Pie Farm, made grilled kebobs. Absolutely delicious.

~ by kbosin on July 24, 2011.

5 Responses to “American eel, a Chesapeake tradition, presented by Pot Pie Farm”

  1. I wish I could say the ell looks good. We did them one year as part of a Christmas eve meal. I lived with them in my refrigerator for a day before they got cooked. They were roasted…I have decided they are not to my taste.

    • Yeah, I think my preference would be to get them already cleaned and ready to cook. It was fascinating, though, to learn about this and other Maryland traditions.

  2. GROWING UP WITH A FAMILY OF WATERMEN I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF EATING EEL.
    I WISH I HAD TRIED IT AT THE FOLK FESTIVAL. LOOKS SO GOOD!

    • Wow, interesting that you never tasted it. Probably because the watermen always had a market for it? Thanks for visiting!

  3. Thank you so much for posting this, Kathy. We thought twice about showing how eel are cleaned since, as your photos show, it is pretty graphic and not to everyone’s liking. But given the nature of the event – a Folk Festival – it seemed appropriate. People are more interested in knowing where there food comes from these days but I think it’s also important to understand HOW it ends up on your plate. Not always a pretty picture but it is realistic!

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