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Smoked eel, forced rhubarb and ground elder

We wanted to make a dish with the two things that are edible and growing around us at the moment.

Our lovely forced rhubarb

And one of the banes of gardeners countrywide ground elder, it tastes of lemony parsley, pick it very young. Elder grows out of control on the verges of our garden, kept out by

Prior to reading an article about smoked eel we didn't realise that ,due to mismanagement of river systems in the UK, eel populations

are now under threat. The marine society classes them as critically endangered, so we savoured this fantastic ingredient even more than usual.


The eel is fantastic as it is with a firmer texture than other smoked fish and a light delicate flavour. The rhubarb we poached gently in slightly sweetened fresh orange juice with a star anise and cinnamon stick. Poach the rhubarb until just tender or risk losing its fantastic colour.

With the elder we made a rustic pesto with walnuts, garlic and lemon zest and enough elder to green it up, smashed in a pestle and mortar, a few elder leaves to garnish as well.

A spoon of yoghurt, a few walnut bread croutons, cooked thru the oven with olive oil till crisp, and a sprinkle of chilli flakes finish things off.

This makes a very springy and light lunch, but not one for any big weddings I am afraid. Would work just as well with other smoked fish like mackered or trout.

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