Lamprey Etoufee

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Recipe by mollypaul

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. From Victorian chef, Charles Elmé Francatelli's 1861 volume, The Cook's Guide and Housekeeper's & Butler's Assistant.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 lbs lampreys
  • 2 ounces button mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 pinch nutmeg (or to taste, freshly grated is best)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste (use freshly ground black pepper for best flavor)
  • 2 12 cups white wine (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are all good choices)
  • 6 white pearl onions, peeled
  • 2 ounces butter, kneaded into
  • 12 cup all-purpose flour, until smooth

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. Cut cleaned fish into 3" lengths.
  3. Combine in a pan with the mushrooms, parsley, wine and pearl onions; season to taste with nutmeg, salt and black pepper.
  4. Bring to a simmer; cover and cook slowly for about 40 minutes, or until the lampreys are very tender.
  5. Whisk in the flour and butter; mix until smooth, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  6. Turn into individual bowls and serve.

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