Monday, March 26, 2012

Lamprey for Lunch?!

This just in from our friend Carol de Montrichard...

This is the lamprey season in France and the center is offering several all day classes about cooking the eel (lamprey). If any of your members are interested they can contact me at: or taking a look at my web site:

I organise culinary and wine tours in the Bordeaux area where lamprey is considered to be an expensive speciality ! ...but my guests rarely cook lamprey as it is a very seasonal and can be found only in March and April...but it's well worth the trip.

Again, congratulations on your work for the Great Lakes and as they say among French sailors: Bon Vent for all your projects !

bien amicalement,



1 live lamprey eel
8 good size leeks
2 liter of wine (Médoc, St Emilion or Grave)
1 large onion
2 cloves
2 garlic cloves
4 table spoons of flour
Thyme, bay and all spice
1 to 2 chocolate squares
3 shallots
2 slices of thinly slices air dried salted ham (jambon de Bayonne)
1 t of Armagnac (french grape brandy)

preparation time 180 min
cooking time 180 min

A day or two before, clean the leeks keeping only the white parts. Cut into 3 inch lengths.Sauté in half butter, half oil. Sprinkle with flour and let brown lightly. Add 1 liter of good wine (Medoc, St Emilion or Graves). Add large onion with the 2 cloves stuck into it., 2 cloves of garlic, a pinch of all spice, a small bunch of thyme, a few bay leaves, salt, pepper and a square of chocolate. Let it reduce for a minimum of 2 hours. Simmer again the next day until the leeks have been completely melted.

Suspend the live lamprey by the head with an S hook from a chain over a pot containing a glass of the wine that was used in the sauce. This will prevent the blood from coagulating. Make a cut in the tail. Keep the eel from moving as the blood runs free (about 1H-1H30). Let it completely drain out (about 2 hours).

In a large pot or fish pan boil water and plunge in the eel for several seconds. The skin coating will become white. At time it should be taken out and the skin scraped with a knife. DO NOT PEEL. Slit the lamprey from the head to the anus, then carefully remove the head, the lungs, eggs, etc. and run the body under the faucet to clean it out completely.

Cut the lamprey cross way in slices of about 2 inches and put it to marinate for 2 hours in the blood with an additional ½ liter of the same wine, herbs, salt and pepper and leave it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Sauté in olive oil the shallots that have been cut up very finely with two slice of « »jambon de Bayonne » (dried salted ham) cut into slivers. Add the pieces of lamprey that have been well drained. And sauté them with strong heat. After they become golden lower the heat and add the Armagnac that you will ignite to burn off the alcohol.

Put the lamprey, shallots and ham and the marinade with the leek sauce and let it cook for 20 minutes. Put it into canning jars (dividing up the eel and leeks into equal amounts) and sterilise in boiling water for 3 hours.

This may be keep for several months or years and be opened and served hot as an appetiser or a main dish accompanied by steamed potatoes.

The dish is served with the same wine as was used for it preparation.

Draining the blood.  Not for the faint-hearted!

See, I'm not making this up.
Thanks, Carol, for this culinary cultural experience. 

So, let me know if you try this.  I think I stick with the chocolate squares and a glass of St. Emilion.  (Since the MDEQ does not list sea lamprey on their fish advisory, proceed at your own risk). --Capt Tom

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