Consumption of eel in the Neagh-Bann region is not a recent phenomenon and in fact it dates back to the earliest arrival of humans in Northern Ireland to Mount Sandel, Coleraine, 9000 years ago.
Archaeological evidence of eel bones demonstrates that eel composed a significant component of the early settlers diet. Around Lough Neagh there is a wonderful culture of eating fried eel, known as Eel suppers. The Eel is cleaned and skinned and chopped into cuts, approximately 5 cuts per eel. These are placed into a medium hot griddle or pan with little or no oil, as the eel release oil during cooking. They are cooked for over an hour resulting in a brown, crispy outside with fluffy, white inner flesh, which slides off the bone easily.
Eel suppers are usually accompanied with fried onions, soda bread, salad and potato salad.
In Europe particularly the Netherlands and Germany, and more commonly throughout NI and other parts of GB & RoI, smoked eel are a fantastic delicacy. Eel are hot smoked and the wood blend used depends on the region where they are being smoked. It is important that the wood used does not overpower the natural flavour of the eel and the smoking technique does not detract from the beautiful texture of the product.
In the East End of London, Lough Neagh Eel is used in the production of jellied eel. This is a traditional English dish that originated in the 18th century. Chopped eels are boiled in a spiced stock that is allowed to cool and set, forming a jelly. Described as a unique eating experience, it's often believed to be an acquired taste!
More and more restaurants in NI and beyond have Lough Neagh eel on their menus and our local chefs are delighted to have such a prestigious product on their doorstep.