Smoked eel is not so difficult to find but most retailers sell it vacuum packed*: the problem with this technique, whilst keeping the fish admirably, is that it tends to express the oil from the meat. It is worth drying the fillets on kitchen paper before slicing. Most people don’t peel young baby carrots: I prefer to because I like to see them look smooth and glossy but I see the point of those who don’t.
1 large cooking apple
Cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, nutmeg
500 grams bunched baby carrots
750 grams smoked eel
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
2 tablespoons olive oil
Peel and core the apple, chop coarsely and mix with the juice of the lemon in a small saucepan. Add a small piece of the cinnamon stick, the crumbled heads of the cloves and a grating of nutmeg. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and simmer on a gentle heat until the apple disintegrates. Remove the cinnamon, blend in a mixer until completely smooth, adding a little water if necessary to produce a light and smooth puree.
Wash the carrots and remove all but an inch of the stalks. Peel the carrots with a fine peeler and place them in a saucepan with just enough water to cover, a generous pinch of salt, likewise of sugar and a tablespoon of the olive oil. Cover with greaseproof paper and simmer briefly until the carrots are tender and enrobed in a syrupy glaze. Keep warm.
Slice the eel thinly and distribute, without overlapping on six plates. Place them in a warm oven or plate warmer just long enough so that the eel is warm but not hot. Distribute the carrots on each plate and dribble the apple sauce (no more than a dessertspoon per plate) artfully over each dish. Mix the marjoram with a tablespoon of oil and spoon a very small amount over each dish, equally artfully. Serve.
Suggested pairing: a German Kabinett Riesling
* If you can't find smoked eel locally you can order it online from the admirable Brown & Forrest which specialises in smoked eel FB
Rowley Leigh is chef at Le Cafe Anglais and cookery writer for the Financial Times in which this recipe was first printed.