Two typical Dutch ingredients are smoked eel and celeriac (aka celery root). In Dutch cooking, they are sometimes combined in celeriac soup with smoked eel. I thought it would be worth trying some Dutch-Italian fusion and make a smoked eel and celeriac risotto. I loved the result and will definitely make it again. A nice thing about the smoked eel is that it is a “mile 0” product, as the eel is caught and smoked in the town where I live. Smoked eel is a delicacy because it melts on your tongue and has a very nice full flavor. It combines well with the earthy flavor of the celeriac.
I’m not sure if smoked eel is available outside of the Netherlands, but if you can get raw eel and own a smoker, it’s not hard to smoke some eel yourself.
For 2 servings
200 grams (.44 lbs) smoked eel fillets
400 grams (.88 lbs) celeriac
130 grams (2/3 cup) risotto rice
500 ml (2 cups) fish stock
100 ml (1 glass) dry white wine
1 stick celery, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 Tbsp butter
Peel the celeriac. If you are making the stock from scratch, use the peels for making the stock along with aromatic vegetables and fish bones.
Cut the celeriac into 2-3 cm (1″) cubes and boil them in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes.
Check with a fork whether the celeriac is tender.
Use a food mill to turn the celeriac into a puree.
Keep the celeriac puree warm, or warm it up in a microwave oven when you are ready to add it to the risotto.
Cut the eel into 4 mm (1/6 inch) slices, keeping some nice parts for garnish. Leave at room temperature while you are preparing the risotto.
Heat the butter in a frying pan and sauté the celery and shallot for a few minutes until fragrant.
Heat up the stock and keep it simmering.
Add the rice and continue to sauté until the rice is coated with butter and the edges are translucent.
Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until the wine has evaporated.
Add a little of the simmering stock. Cook, stirring, until the stock has been absorbed by the rice.
Keep adding ladles of stock and stirring until you have used up all the stock and the rice is al dente, about 16-18 minutes. (Use hot water if you run out of stock.)
When the rice is almost done, add the warm celeriac puree and stir to mix.
As soon as the risotto with the celeriac puree is warm through and hot, reduce the heat to very low and add the sliced eel.
Stir to mix over very low heat. Turn off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes. The eel should not be cooked too much to avoid drying out.
There is no need to add butter as the eel is fatty enough by itself. Seafood primi are never served with grated cheese.
Serve on warm plates, garnished with some nice pieces of smoked eel.
The smoked eel requires a full-bodied dry white wine that has had some nice new oak. A chardonnay would work, but a nice Italian oaked verdicchio riserva would be even better.