Last week on Top Chef, contestants faced a slithery challenge: peel and fillet an eel. To prepare eel you must buy them live and kill them right before cooking, because their flesh deteriorates rapidly. But these eels were still moving!
Guest chef and judge Eric Ripert assured the contestants that the eels were already dead, but admitted that they would continue to squirm for hours.
Eel is more popular in Europe and Asia than in the United States, where you don't often find it on a menu. In France, chefs will braise eel with red wine and garlic. In Japan, it's frequently glazed with miso and grilled. In Scandinavia and Germany, eel is smoked and served with rye bread. Why accompany eels with such strong flavors? Because, Ripert revealed, "they taste like mud."