Although in Italy eel is mostly eaten in winter time, fresh eel is available here in summer. And so I’ve made a summer version of eel ragù by making it with fresh tomatoes and basil. This makes the ragù very elegant. The tomato gives it freshness, while the eel makes is creamy. Of course it is best to buy the eel when it is still alive; check out this post to find out how to deal with that. The eel I used here was fairly small with a very thin skin so I left it on.
For 2 servings
500 grams (1.1 lbs) eel, killed and gutted, heads removed, and cut into chunks
500 grams (1.1 lbs) ripe plum tomatoes
150 grams (.33 lb) tagliatelle
8 fresh basil leaves
60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Puree 500 grams of plum tomatoes in the food processor.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, and cook a whole peeled garlic clove in it until golden on all sides to flavor the oil. Then discard the garlic.
Add about 400 grams of cleaned eel, and stir for a minute.
Deglaze with 60 ml of dry white wine.
Pass the pureed tomatoes through a food mill, directly into the pan with the eel.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Simmer over low heat until the eel is cooked and the sauce has been reduced, about 25 minutes. The eel is cooked when it comes off the bone easily.
Take the eel flesh off the bones using two forks…
…and discard the bones.
Once you have removed all of the bones, stir the ragù and break up the eel a little if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, cook 150 grams of tagliatelle for the time indicated on the package for al dente.
When the tagliatelle is cooked, drain and reserve a bit of the cooking water. Add the tagliatelle to the eel ragù, and add only as much of the reserved cooking water as needed to make it moist.
Add 8 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade, and toss to mix the pasta with the ragù.
Serve on preheated plates. Do not even dare to put parmigiano on this, as it will overpower the delicate flavor of the eel.
This is nice with an Italian white wine that has been aged in used oak (not new oak). The use of wood makes the wine creamy, which works well with the eel. The wine should have enough acidity to deal with the tomatoes as well. Nice options are verdicchio or fiano.
Klepon are an Indonesian sweet of sticky rice balls filled with palm sugar and coconut flakes on the outside.