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Eel; common (anguilla anguilla)

A species of fish belonging to the Anguillidae family - which also includes flying fish. They are snake-like in appearance, with elongated dorsal and anal fins.

Common eel males can reach 60cm; females up to 1.2 metres. Common eels are born at sea, but spend most of their life in rivers or lakes - returning to the Sargasso Sea to spawn and die.

All eels have a great tenacity of life - being able to travel across land, and so able to live out of water for long periods.

In culinary terms, eel is very rich, and with its high fat content is ideal for smoking. They are excellent fried, in a white wine sauce, in a green sauce (including sorrel) - as well as in the more obvious jelly. Many eels are now farmed, when they take three years to mature - they are equally good. See 'Eel, conger eel'; 'Eel, jellied'; 'Moray eel'

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