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Lampreys (sometimes called lamprey eels due to their similar appearance) are a deeply underappreciated fish in the Americas and a delicacy in southwestern Europe (Portugal, Spain, and France) and Asia, costing consumers there upwards of $25/pound. It is quite inexpensive here if your angler has been successful. Lamprey is not exceptionally strong in flavor, with a cooked texture something like lobster -- chewy and meatier than most fish. Clean and skin the fish while the batter is resting. Courtesy of Dave and Clay.
- To clean lampreys: after catching and killing the fish, pop it into boiling water for a few seconds to help remove the slimy coating. Though a knife will often be all that's needed to scrape it away, any remaining vestiges can be rubbed off the skin with a rough cloth. Cut off the tail (usually about 6 inches long), then tie a string around the head and suspend the fish over the sink to drain the blood. Open bronchial holes on the side of the fish and allow the blood to empty Then, remove the intestines and notocordium (the long, dark bitter-tasting organ running down the abdomen). Rinse the fish again and then decapitate it by slicing around the body and pulling off the head. If you don't want crunchy lamprey, make sure the thick, bony cartilage comes out with the head. Discard both.
- To make the batter: Mix the dry ingredients together.
- Add beer slowly, stirring constantly, until you get the texture of pancake batter.
- Let sit on the counter at room temperature for at least 20 minutes to allow the gluten to break down.
- Cut cleaned fish into 1" sections and drop into the batter.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan to 350°F.
- Drop the battered fish in the hot oil and cook until golden brown on all sides, about three minutes.
- Serve immediately.