What Does Eel Taste Like And How To Cook It In A Wonderful Dish

Do you love sushi? Imagine you are in a sushi bar and the Itamae (sushi chef) served you this – on the house! Would you eat it?

Wow. Of course, it looks so delicious.

What if I tell you that dish is made out of eel’s meat? Would you still eat it?

Actually, it is a famous version of sashimi, but instead of raw fish, they use grilled eel.

Wait, what? What is an eel? What does eel taste like? Is it even safe to eat?

I will answer all of these and more, so read along.


What Is An Eel And Its Health Benefits?

An eel is technically a fish – even if it has underdeveloped parts (like its fins, gills, and scales) and looks more like a snake. It is usually known for its elongated slippery body.

If you are wondering if it’s edible, yes, it is. Is it safe to eat? Well, honestly, it depends.

You can’t eat a raw eel because the protein in its blood is poisonous to humans and can cause anaphylactic shocks, but if you prepare and cook it well, then there will be no problem.

This is also the reason why Unagi (sashimi made from eel) is grilled and not raw unlike other sushi.

Why would you want to eat eel? Here are some of its health benefits:

  • It is a great source of minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, manganese, iron, and magnesium
  • It is jam-packed with vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, D, and E
  • It is good for the heart because it contains high amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • It prevents diabetes, and heart and kidney disease because it is low in sugar and sodium
  • It is also low in carbohydrates and calorie-content
  • It promotes brain and eye health
  • It lowers blood cholesterol level

Taste And Texture

The real question here is, what does eel taste like?

Some people say that it taste like chicken while others say that it is like squid. Have you tried eating catfish? I haven’t so I can’t really tell you if they taste the same, but I saw a lot of reviews saying they do.

For me, personally, it tastes more like salmon, at first bite– light weight and a little sweet. Then, after chewing, it kind of resembles the taste of a squid.

If you are not fond of squids, then I advise you to marinate it in soy sauce first before grilling or cooking. I got the technique while surfing the net and watching YouTube videos for eel recipes.

When it comes to texture, it is a bit harder than salmon but not as firm and rubbery as squid.

How To Clean, Skin, And Prepare An Eel?

Eels are a bit more difficult and complicated to clean, skin, and prepare than ordinary fish mainly because it is slippery and thin, so you have to be careful especially when you are using really sharp knives.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to skin an eel. I also provided you with some tutorial videos on how to clean and prepare eels for sushi.

What You’ll Need:

  • Sharp knives
  • Wooden chopping board
  • Pins or screw

Here's How To Do:

  • Step 1: Secure the head of the eel on the chopping board by using a sharp pin or screw.
  • Step 2: Slit the skin of the eel around the neck area. Make sure it is just about skin deep. Cut it a little further around just to give you something to grip on when you start pulling it out with pliers.
  • Step 3: Slowly pull the skin out using pliers. If there are meat coming off and clinging on the skin, take a knife and carefully trim it.
  • Step 4: Pull the rest of the skin off.

Watch These Videos For More Tips And Tricks

Authentic Japanese way of making Unagi

How To Cook An Eel?

Actually, you can cook an eel just like any other fish: bake, fry, smoke, grill, etc., but I recommend grilling or smoking because it kind of tone down the fish’s stench.

Here’s a great smoked eel recipe inspired by CharBroil.com.



  • 7 cups warm water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 whole eel, cleaned
  • Pin the eel down on a wooden board. Rub coarse salt all over its body to remove its slime.
  • Carefully slice the eel from the ‘neck’ part down to about 4-5 inches above the end of the tail. Flap it open and then remove everything inside especially the bloodline. (You can check out the videos above on how to properly do this).
  • In a container with lid, mix the following ingredients: warm water, salt, sugar, lemons, and fresh thyme. This is called a brine solution.
  • Soak the cleaned eel into the brine solution, secure the lid, and let it marinate in the fridge overnight.
  • When you are ready to cook it, just take it out of the container, wash off the residue from the solution, and then pat it dry.
  • You may opt to slice it into smaller pieces before smoking or leave it as is.
  • Smoke it in a preheated smoker at 185°F for about one and a half hour.
  • Once it is cooked, discard the skin. Serve and enjoy!

The Final Verdict….

There’s no doubt that eel is delicious and nutritious just like any other fish and seafood. The only downside for me is that it’s not that easy to prepare at home, unless you have a good back ground at skinning, deboning, and slicing fish.

No worries, though, because I included some tutorial videos where you can get inspiration from, plus there are a lot more online.

I almost forgot to mention that you can also store eels in the freezer (below -22°F) for a few days as long as you properly clean it.

I hope you had fun learning more about eels and that you find this article helpful. Now you know how to prepare eel in case you decide to cook one.

Tools For Grilling, Smoking And Preparing Eels.

Please leave your comments, questions, and suggestions down below. Tell me about your experiences cooking, eating, and/or preparing eels.

Sophia Gardner

I'm Sophia, food blogger, dog lover, homemade cooking and travel passion. I really hope you enjoy my blog, i'll do my best to share great recipes, healthy living tips and just general 'food' thoughts!

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