Old-Fashioned London Eel Pie
When we say old-fashioned eel pie, we really do mean old-fashioned – this recipe dates back to the 1600s! Despite its age, eel pie is still very popular in London, England and in some other parts of the country. Here we are cutting the eel into slivers, then adding it to a pastry crust along with raisins, onion, ginger and melted butter. The pie is then baked in the oven until done. Enjoy this with mashed potatoes and perhaps some green peas on the side too. You can make one large eel pie or several smaller ones, using your favourite type of dough to make the pie crust. This recipe is hearty, filling and very tasty.
Eel pie houses (their actual name) have been around since the 1700s, when the pie men would carry their pies on trays and sell them on the streets of London. The eels for the early pies would have come directly from the Thames River and stewed in stock and spiced before being used to fill the pies. In later years, eels became too expensive and then the eel was swapped for meat.
Today you can still get eel pies but beef pies are also popular, as are other types of pies such as chicken, lamb or even cheese and onion. In London, pie and mash is often served with green ‘liquor’ which is made with butter, flour, milk, water, parsley and malt vinegar. Some people use eel stock instead of the milk or water. If your eels are not already prepared you need to wash and skin them, then discard the heads and tails. You can then use the heads and tails to make a nice fish stock for a future recipe.
- 2 lbs (900g) sliced eels
- ½ cup (75g) raisins
- ½ cup (75g) finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ tablespoons melted butter
- Dough to make a double pie crust
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
- Combine the eels, raisins, onion, ginger, salt and black pepper.
- Transfer this mixture into the bottom of a pie crust.
- Pour over the melted butter, then add the top half of the pie crust.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the eel is cooked.
A lot of pies look the same. Take a look at the top and see whether you can guess what is in there. This pie crust encloses an exotic mixture of eels, ginger, raisins, onion and more. Dating back to the 1600s this recipe is good served with mashed potatoes and either green liquor (a type of parsley sauce) or your favourite type of brown gravy. There are still pie and mash shops in London but if you want the London flavour without having to travel there, this recipe is the next best thing, as long as you can buy or catch small eels where you are. Give this unusual pie a try!
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