When I was in the planning stages for Project Gastronome, there were a couple of things that I had pretty firmly decided I wanted to include (and which you will get to read about soon), but I knew that I'd never find them at the grocery store. Luckily, Texas Tech's sizeable community of international students means that Lubbock has not one, but three Asian markets. What I didn't plan on when I visited one, though, was that it would end up being a treasure trove of other potential menu items, which is how I ended up with tonight's course, braised eels.
When I walked into the Far East Supermarket on 34th Street, I only saw one person in there, a very attractive Asian girl in her mid-20s. I asked her if she could help me find something, but she told me that she didn't actually work there, and that the shopkeeper was in the back at the moment. So now I was not only wondering if they carried what I was looking for, but also wondering if this girl thought I was a racist for just automatically assuming that an Asian person standing near the counter must work there. It's difficult having a brain full of white liberal guilt sometimes, y'all.
Anyway, while I slunk off between some shelves and waited for the proprietor to return, I saw this can, and knew that I had to try it for Project Gastronome.
I'm only two nights into this project, and already I'm learning an important lesson. Plate your food and eat it as soon as possible. The longer you stare it down and let the smell of it fill your room and your nostrils, the more you're going to psych yourself out.
Because here's the thing - once I sat down with it and took a bite, it was really good! I'm guessing that preparation is a big part in determining the edibility of eels, because I could very easily see another cooking method not having as much success. These were packed in some kind of soy/garlic/ginger sauce that really made them tasty, though. The only downside is the aftertaste - nearly two hours after eating this, and multiple glasses of water later, I still have the flavor of it in my mouth.
In the video, I struggled a little to think of how to describe the texture, but I think I've finally got it. Imagine that a snake went on vacation to the beach and had an affair with a fish while she was there. Months later, she gives birth to the unholy snake/fish offspring that is the result of their union. Actually, considering that an eel is essentially a snake that lives in the water, that kind of works.
And now, without further ado, I give you the tasting! (I have to apologize for the background noise - the dryer was running in the utility room.)
This was too funny not to share. Last night, after eating pigs feet, I took the leftovers out to the dumpster and then had to fix the latch on the gate when I came back in. I had no idea that Blake knew how to work the video camera. Flip video cameras should use this in their commercials - they are easy enough for a kindergartener to pick up and figure out! Anyway, here's the footage.