13 August 2017

We LOVE smoked eel – have you tried it yet?


Eel is a very popular fish in Denmark and has also been eaten in the UK for many years. There are recipes dating back five centuries for eel pie, and jellied eels have been an East End delicacy since the 1700s. 

However, in the last few decades it’s fallen out of fashion, in part because of declining stocks, but the Sustainable Eel Group has set out to turn this around.

Eel by Oliver Grenaa

Eels have quite a mysterious reproductive cycle which involves the adults migrating from Europe to the Sargasso Sea near the Bahamas, where they spawn and die.

The larvae then spend a year journeying back to Europe, growing into thread-like “glass eels”.

As they travel back up rivers, they become little eels – elvers – on the way to their adult homes. Here they stay up to 20 years before the cycle repeats itself.

In normal circumstances, the elvers would have only a five per cent chance of surviving the journey upstream – in this case, from the mouth of the Severn – as the bulk will get caught in weirs, flood defences and other man-made barriers, or eaten by predators.

Smoked eel

The idea behind the Sustainable Eel Group, is to catch the elvers downstream, soon after they start the final stretch of their springtime journey back from the Sargasso Sea.

By keeping the elvers in tanks for 10 to 12 weeks, then releasing 70 per cent of them upstream, the number who survive the most perilous stretch of the journey should be much increased.

The formation of the Sustainable Eel Group and the work that they are doing, means that we can once again enjoy this delicious fish whilst ensuring it will be around for many more years to come.

Want to know a bit more? Check out our Head Chef Tania on BBC’s The Hairy Bikers a few years back when she was Head Chef at the Severn + Wye Smokery, who supply our delicious smoked eel.   You can catch her at 28 minutes in 😃.

Tania cooking eel


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