Tagliatelle with Eel (Tagliatelle al Ragù di Anguilla)


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.

Wine pairing

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.

21 thoughts on “Tagliatelle with Eel (Tagliatelle al Ragù di Anguilla)

  1. Accipicchia. Quando i miei figli erano piccoli li portavo al mercato a vedere i pulcini e le anguille. C’erano diversi banchi con le anguille.Da tanto tempo non le vedo più (e nemmeno i pulcini). Le ho cucinate qualche volta, ma solo perchè mio cognato è veneto e, sopprattutto, pescatore di frodo!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Stefan, this recipe will be copied as soon as I get my hands on some eel: quite my favourite sea creature methinks! It was probably amongst my first baby foods, either jellied or smoked!! Have never put it together with pasta . . yours look slightly smaller than what we can get here – if we do find some 🙂 ! Can you ever buy ‘green eels’ in spring: baby ones – had some in a marvellous restaurant on the Grand Place in Brussels once and still remember . . .


    1. The ‘green’ baby eels are banned. I’ve had them in Japan once I believe, but not as memorable as yours in Brussels. Environmentalists will already frown upon my promotion of eating eel in this post…


  3. Stefan – I DO hope I have not made ‘matters’ worse by mentioning this. I had no idea!!! I can understand the usage of the ‘fingerlings’ being banned, but why adult eel ! It is one of the most beloved foods all over Scandinavia and still freely available everywhere. I am somewhat of an environmentalist myself, but when crabbing in the rivers I have come upon eels instead they have simply been taken by the scruff of their necks, humanely killed and used in a variety of recipes? Puzzled and sorry!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry. The grown up ones aren’t legally banned. But they are an endangered species, like bluefin tuna. I am not actually worried about what the politically correct will say about what I eat. We had a lot of fun when we posted a video of me killing a lobster on YouTube from all the comments. As if it makes sense to treat a lobster “humanely”. Although a lobster usually eats dead stuff, it won’t pass up the chance to snap a little fish in two if given the chance.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When we lived on the Atlantic coast my mother would trap eel, and I remember this little woman tackling the job of skinning them, head in a vice grip, still wiggling even after getting be-headed. But I remember how good they were. They sound really lovely in pasta!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This brought back memories of my foray into eel-dom, Stefan. That was for Christmas Eve and, unlike you, I cannot find eel at any other time of the year. Although mine were served in umido, I did use the leftovers to dress pasta for my next night’s dinner — and loved it! If I get them again, maybe I’ll skip the stew and go straight for the pasta. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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