Japanese Cooking

Smoked Eel

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This Cava is the ultimate in complexity. With great aromatic intensity, Cava Gran Reserva stands out for having its own personality and complex aroma, thanks to more than 30 months aging in bottle.
36 hour
2 people

Eel is one of the stars of Japanese cuisine, and is used in many recipes. Freshwater eel, particularly the Japanese kind, is called unagi. It's been appreciated by the Japanese since ancient times for its bold, rich taste and soft texture. So much so there are many restaurants in Japan that specialise exclusively in cooking and preparing unagi.

There are lots of recipes based on eel, which is a very versatile fish, but the one we have here for you is a true delight for the palate: smoked eel. It’s a classic in specialised shops as preparing it involves a great deal of work, but at the Cava Regulatory Board we'll explain how you can make it at home. And to accompany the dish we recommend a cava gran reserva (aged for more than 30 months). After putting in all that work, this pairing will be a joy for the senses.


1 eel
1 kg of cane sugar
1 kg of salt

You will also need

A 10-hour sawdust burner



Clean the eel well. To do this, first, remove the head and the end of the tail. Remove the central bone, and make two fillets. Carefully remove the bones from the fillets, and freeze for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, mix together the cane sugar and the salt. Stir well to make sure that you have a homogeneous mixture.
Make a bed of salt and sugar on a large platter (using about half of the mix you've prepared). Place the previously defrosted fillets of eel on top, skin-side down, and cover with the rest of the salt and sugar mix. Cover the platter with cling film and leave to macerate in the fridge for 2 hours. You can place a weight on top of the platter to help the eel to release its juices.
After it's macerated for two hours remove the eel from the bed of salt, and clean. You now need to rinse it well with water and then dry it thoroughly - the fillets need to be perfectly dry.
Place the fish skin-side down on a rack, and get the smoker ready.
Put the rack in the smoker, and leave to smoke for around 8 hours.
After 8 hours your smoked eel will be ready to eat.

Smoked eel can either be eaten on the same day, or vacuum packed and eaten at a later date. This very special dish can be served with just a drizzle of olive oil, or with some toast and pickles. Whichever you choose, our aromas expert François Chartier recommends accompanying this complex dish with a cava gran reserva (aged for more than 30 months).


Sawdust: for smoking eel it's a good idea to use sawdust from some kind of fruit tree, as this too will affect the taste.

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