One eel of a dish…

The recipe this week is truly an exceptional treat, since it is the only one in the Arabic culinary tradition for an eel (سلباح, silbāḥ) dish. Preparation is key and not for the faint-hearted as someone needs to scrape off the skin and gut the critter — though you can always ask your friendly local fishmonger to do the squeamish bit for you. Once that is done, it’s time to cook it in water (not too much), salt, lashings of olive oil and many of the usual goodies, like pepper, cumin, saffron, vinegar, and garlic. When the liquid has been absorbed, put it in the oven for browning. And voilà, ‘eel à l’andalouse‘ 13th-century style! As the author of the cookery book tends to say at the end of each recipe: Eat and enjoy! For accompaniment, keep it simple with some fine olives and bread.

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