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Can You Eat Eel and How Does It Taste?

american eel

If you’re fishing off the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts and hook what looks like a snake, don’t panic! It’s not a snake, but an eel. Eels are easy to catch, so if you need something to cook for dinner,  you might be wondering, Can you eat eel? The answer is yes – eel is a delicacy that people all around the world enjoy. However, you must be very cautious when preparing it for consumption, as certain parts of a raw eel are toxic to humans.


Do People Eat Eel?

Yes, you can eat eel, and it is a popular menu item in many Japanese restaurants. Most chefs prepare eel by grilling it or frying it and serving it as an hors-d’oeuvre or main dish. You won’t find eel meat for sale in most Western grocery stores, but you can find it in many upscale seafood restaurants.


grilled eel


What Does Eel Taste Like?

Eel has a great taste that is firm, chewy, and tender. Saltwater eel meat may be more stringent than freshwater eel meat because it has thick skin and may be challenging to chew. Eel meat is very absorbent, and many expert chefs marinate it with tasty sauces and spices to enrich its delicious flavor.


If you like the taste and texture of squid, there is a good chance that you will enjoy eating eel. Some people liken the taste of this delicacy to snake or frog and even chicken. Raw salmon and catfish meat also have similar properties to eel meat, so the texture tends to be similar.  


Is Eel Edible?

Eel meat is edible, and chefs often use it in Asian recipes. Many restaurants offer dishes such as grilled eel marinated in soy sauce or unadon, which is hot rice topped with kabayaki-style cooked eel. It is also a standard menu item found at most sushi bars, typically made with avocado, rice, and seaweed.


In counties like Japan, people consider eel meat a dietary staple because it contains so many nutrients. Eel is also very prominent in England, where people chop it up and boil it in seasoned stock until it forms a jelly. In Spain and other parts of Europe, eel is a delicacy and can cost up to $100 per dish. Some people also like to eat smoked eel.


Can You Eat Eel Raw?

Eel blood is toxic to humans, so you cannot consume one that is raw or undercooked. Even the smallest amount of blood is lethal enough to cause death. The toxic protein in an eel’s blood will cause your heart to contract and stop working, so it is imperative to make sure that any eel you consume comes from a reputable seller.  


Is It Safe to Eat Eel?

As long as the eel is appropriately prepared and cooked all the way through, it is safe for eating. During the preparation process, the eel is filleted and drained of its blood, and then the heat from cooking kills the harmful toxins in the meat. In some parts of the world, people believe that eel meat can increase stamina, lower blood cholesterol, and boost dopamine levels, so they eat it to achieve better health.


Since eels can be tricky to prepare and harmful if not cooked properly, your best bet is to order it at your favorite Japanese restaurant. Look for menu items with the words “unadon” or “kabayaki” to know if it is made with eel. You can also try it in sushi rolls. Eel is a healthy, delicious, and incredible treat for your taste buds. If you’ve yet to try it, consider giving it a shot next time you visit the sushi bar. 

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