Xapadillo

Xapadillo

By
From
Catalonia
Serves
2-4
Photographer
Laura Edwards

La Tancada is a restaurant in Amposta, which also has facilities for camping, if you fancy it. It’s part of the province of Tarragona, a gorgeous part of the country.

I go there for the xapadillo, which on my research trip was one of the best things I tried. Xapadillo is deep-fried eel, which might not sound very exciting but, with its golden colour and crispy texture, and the eel caught just a couple of metres from the restaurant, what could be better?

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 fresh eel, (about 500g)
or 2 smaller eel
600g coarse sea salt
1 orange, pared, zested and juiced
olive oil, for deep-frying

Method

  1. Cut the head off the eel, split it in half lengthwise and clean (you can ask your fishmonger to do this for you). Put it in a plastic container and mix with the salt, orange zest and juice and leave to cure for 5 hours.
  2. Remove the eel from the container, wash it and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Hang it up to dry in the fridge on a wine rack (or other hanging space, such as some balanced bamboo skewers) for 24 hours.
  3. Heat a small, deep pan of olive oil to 180°C– or until a cube of bread browns in 20 seconds. Cut the eel into pieces and plunge into the hot oil. Fry for 2–3 minutes until crispy and golden and cooked. Eat straight away.
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