What Does Eel Taste Like?

When you think of eel, it is hard not to get the image of those slippery creatures out of your mind. But if you can manage this, eel may be a food that is high on your bucket list.

This food is eaten in many countries around the world and yet has something of an under-appreciation in places where it is not commonplace.  

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to expand your tastes, then a food like eel may be high on your ‘to-try’ list. While it may be a little strange, knowing what to expect can help to enhance your experience.  

What Does Eel Taste Like? 

How eel tastes will vary greatly depending on the type of eel you are eating. There are around 800 species of eel, according to Wikipedia so it stands to reason that each one might have a different taste, and some that you probably wouldn’t want to make a meal of at all.  

What does saltwater eel taste like? 

The saltwater eel is a pretty hardy creature that is designed for survival. They have thick bodies and skins and as a result, this affects their texture when eaten. The saltwater eel is typically one of the chewiest with the densest and more firm texture.  

Compared to other types of eel, saltwater eel is considered to be less oily and slightly less rich. In addition to this, they are typically a little sweeter. Surprisingly, eel does not have as fishy a taste as many would expect.  

What does freshwater eel taste like? 

Freshwater eels are typically much softer than their salty counterparts. For this reason, the meat is generally much more tender and less like that of a squid, which is how saltwater eel is often compared.  

The flavor of eel is considered to be rather sweet. Commonly referred to as Unagi (yes, we know you’re now thinking of Ross Gellar), freshwater eel is often used in Japanese cooking, particularly in sushi dishes.

This type of eel has a taste that many people would compare to salmon or perhaps lobster. Therefore, it is easy to appreciate that the flavor is relatively delicate without a lot of earthiness.  

That being said, the way that eel is cooked will have a huge bearing on how it tastes. For example, some people like to cook their eel with a lot of spices which can drastically alter the flavor.  

What Do Jellied Eels Taste Like? 

Jellied eels are found in England, where they first became popular in the 18th century. The eels are chopped into pieces and left to marinade in a stock and spice mix. Over the course of this time, the stock develops into a jelly-like substance, hence how the dish got its name.  

To look at, jellied eels don’t have the most appetizing appearance but the taste is rather pleasant. Jellied eels have a mild and delicate flavor and there is no denying that it is one that is either loved or hated.

The dish is quite salty and has often been compared to pickled herring. However, in this case, there is much less of a fishy taste which is something that can put a lot of people off seafood.  

More often than not, jellied eels will be served with salt and vinegar which are both used to enhance and intensify the flavors.  

What does eel taste like raw? 

While eel is used in sushi dishes, which are commonly served raw, this meat is always cooked. Eels have an excellent protection mechanism in the form of poisonous blood.

If ingested, it wouldn’t take a lot to become very sick and in serious cases, a human could easily be killed by eating eel blood. For this reason, eel is always served cooked.  

Many people claim that the taste of eel is bland but one of the best things about this light meat is that it will very easily absorb sauce. Chefs will commonly serve eel with a variety of sauces to amp up the flavor and improve the dining experience.  

Is It Healthy To Eat Eel? 

There is a lot of focus on how healthy fish is, and while a lot of people would consider eel to be more of a snake, it is, in fact, a fish. This means that eel is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids that are incredibly healthy.

There have been various studies done on the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids and the results have been promising. Here are just some of the things you can expect from eating eel.  

  • Omega 3 may reduce the risk of common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.  
  • There is evidence to suggest that regular consumption of Omega 3 can boost the health of your eyes.  
  • Taking Omega 3 during pregnancy and in early life is thought to improve growth and development. In fact, studies have shown an increase in these areas in babies who were fed an Omega 3-rich formula compared to those who weren’t.  
  • One of the most commonly recognized benefits of eating foods that are rich in Omega 3 is improved heart health.  

Why Is Eel Expensive? 

One of the main reasons that eel is so expensive to purchase is because these fish are, in part, considered to be endangered. While the species as a whole is not endangered, the stocks for human consumption certainly are.  

As a result of this, the cost of collecting, producing, and supplying eel is considerably higher than other types of fish.  

Summary 

Eel is a type of fish and yet doesn’t have that overpowering fishy taste that a lot of salt and freshwater animals have. It is often used in sushi dishes as well as in the infamous jellied eels hailing from the United Kingdom.  

While it is a relatively expensive food, eel is incredibly popular in many locations around the world. The taste and texture of this fish will vary depending on the type of eel and how it is cooked but overall it is sweet and delicate.