Eel in caul fat

Eel in caul fat

Lươn cuốn mỡ chài

Real Vietnamese Cooking
Michael Fountoulakis

Caul is the lacy layer of fat that covers a pig’s stomach. Soak the caul fat overnight in salted water to remove any residue or blood. It is then ready to use, or can be frozen for later use.

In this recipe it holds the eel together during frying and creates a crispy exterior — a lovely contrast to the softer flesh of the eel.


Quantity Ingredient
3cm fresh turmeric, peeled
1 lime, juiced
3 eel, gutted, with the bones, head and tail removed
2 lemongrass stems, roughly chopped, white part only
4cm fresh galangal, roughly chopped
4 red asian shallots, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
200g pork
1 tablespoon sauce
1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
200g caul fat
vegetable oil, for pan-frying
1 handful perilla, roughly chopped
6 betel leaves, roughly chopped
Classic dipping sauce, to serve


  1. Pound the turmeric using a mortar and pestle. Over a bowl, squeeze out all the juice from the pounded turmeric. Mix in the lime juice.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut each eel into thirds. Add to the turmeric mixture and toss to coat; leave to marinate while preparing the filling.
  3. Heat a chargrill or barbecue to medium.
  4. In a mortar, pound the lemongrass, galangal, shallot and garlic into a fine paste. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the pork, fish sauce, pepper and sugar and mix until well combined.
  5. Cut the caul fat into pieces large enough to enclose the eel pieces — about 8 cm square.
  6. Place a piece of eel on a chopping board, skin side down. Put a spoonful of the pork mixture into the centre and fold over. Place the eel on the caul fat and roll to encase. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Heat about 1 cm of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, fry the eel in batches for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove and drain on paper towel.
  8. Finish the cooking process by charring the eel parcels on the hot chargrill or barbecue for 3–4 minutes on each side.
  9. Serve with the perilla and betel leaves, with the dipping sauce on the side.
Real Vietnamese Cooking
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