Smoked eel scramble
Last year I was lucky enough to find myself helping to judge the Taste Farmers’ Markets NZ Awards. I’ve heard that this year, one very lucky voter for their favourite market will also be asked to join the judges this year, and there’s also a trip for two to tour Melbourne’s markets up for grabs – so go vote if you’re in NZ! If you’re keen to be in to win some other foodies prizes, remember to like the facebook page as well.
One of the very deserving winners was Moko smoked eel, who sell at various markets in Canterbury, as well as Rare Fare. Now I’ve never been an eel fan, but this stuff is thoroughly addictive – the texture is more like smoked pork or smoked chicken, and the flavour is meaty, smoky, and fishy all at the same time! It’s only available seasonally though, so when I stumbled across one of the eel-catchers-in-chief, Robert, at the Lyttelton Farmer’s Market, I was delighted to pick some up as a treat. He had whole eels with the bone in for $5, or the deboned version for $10 – I highly recommend getting the whole eel, as the bone is really easy to remove, and you can then use the bone in soups. The skin, which is very tough, should be peeled off (easy), and can also be chucked into soups to add flavour.
I had so many ideas for optimising my eel-eating experience (never thought I’d ever say that). In a sandwich with home made guacamole, in a salad with cherry tomatoes, spring onions, corn and celery (maybe a little mayo), on crackers with cream cheese… but you know how you can’t wait for another trip to the store, so you throw something together and it turns out to trump all your other ideas? I present to you my favourite go-to dish for using tomatoes that are a bit past their best (I blame my mother for buying too many when they’re “on sale”). A little squirt of good tomato sauce/ketchup really elevates this, but you could easily use barbecue sauce instead (another suggestion I never thought I’d make!). Alternatively, a little brown sugar will suffice (for those of you who can’t stomach the idea of store-bought tomato ketchup!). The result is a slightly sweet, smoky, rich and moreish scramble that is nicely balanced out with juicy tomatoes. Some fresh corn shaved off the cob would make a wonderful addition too.
Of course if you can’t find smoked eel, sub in another smoky protein and you should be good – whether it’s smoked tofu, salmon, trout,* chicken or bacon.
Smoked eel scramble
I could probably have eaten this all by myself, but realistically it serves about 2 as a main side with toast.
- 3 free range eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt & freshly cracked pepper
- cooking oil
- 1 red onion, sliced (thick or thin wedges) (or use brown onion or spring onion)
- 2 tomatoes, cut into sixths or eighths
- small handful de-skinned, de-boned smoked eel, torn into small bite sized pieces
- squirt of good tomato ketchup or barbecue sauce, or sprinkling of light brown or raw sugar
- chives or spring onions for garnish
Heat a large non stick or cast iron frying pan on medium high heat. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with about a teaspoon splash of water, salt and pepper until frothy. Pour about 3-4 Tbs oil into you hot pan and immediately add onions. Once onions are browned on the underside, pour eggs over the top. Once the edges have set, scrape the set edges into the middle. Once the eggs are almost cooked (no orangey bits left), add tomatoes and eel to the pan and squirt over tomato sauce. Turn off heat (unless you’re using induction, in which case leave the heat on a lower setting for a minute or so), and stir to distribute the sauce nicely. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Serve with chives and a hunk of good bread.
*I’ve observed that smoked trout is to Aussies what smoked salmon is to kiwis in terms of price & availability…except I’ve never found smoked trout in Christchurch at all.