What Does Eel Taste Like?

The thought of eating eel, which has the appearance of a water snake, might make some people a little squeamish. But in many places, due to a reduction in population, eel is considered a delicacy.

It may look a little strange, but eel has a nice, light texture with a slightly sweet flavor. Eel should be flaky when properly cooked and have no fishiness to it. If you overcook your eel it will be chewy and somewhat rubbery.

Eel is often prepared in a sauce made from saki, sugar, and soy sauce. Oftentimes, you’ll taste mostly eel sauce, so we’ll discuss that as well. Talking about the different flavors, uni also tastes quite unique and goes best with sushi.


Without eel sauce, eel’s natural flavor is somewhat sweet. It’s not sugary, but there is a subtle, natural sweetness to it. Its closest fish in terms of flavor might be tilapia.

Eel’s flavor does not seem to match its appearance.

Eel Sauce

Often served with ee, eel sauce is made from sake, sugar, and soy sauce. It’s very thick and very sweet. The soy sauce also gives it a bit of a tangy flavor. 

Since many restaurants serve eel with eel sauce, people often mistake the sauce for the flavor of the fish.


Eel, even though it is dark in color, has a very light texture. It’s flaky but firm and has a nice chew. 

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Eel Sushi

When the eel is put into a sushi roll, it loses some of its flavor and texture. This is mostly due to the accompaniments in the roll. 

Often an eel roll consists of eel, avocado, eel sauce, sushi rice, and seaweed. In this case, the eel has a lot of other flavors to contend with.

While eel rolls are wonderful, they definitely don’t highlight the flavor or texture of the eel.

Eel sushi is popular in America and perhaps one of the first things we associate with eel. Many people have only ever eaten eel from a sushi restaurant. If you’re one of them, you might be surprised at the taste and flavor of the fish.

If you have leftover eel sushi make sure it’s still good to eat.

Types of Eel dishes

While in America, unless we’re at a somewhat fancy restaurant, the most popular way to eat eel is probably in a sushi roll. That is not the case for other nations. Let’s see eel tastes in other places.

Jellied Eels

In jellied eels, the eels are chopped up and boiled in a stock of water and vinegar. Due to the gelatinous nature of the ee, when cooled it forms a jelly. This dish can be eaten either hot or cold.

Unlike fresh eels, jellied eels have a mild, salty flavor. The texture of jellied eels is also different, as it’s not flakey, but soft.

These are typically eaten in England.

Paling in ‘t groen

This eel dish is from Belgium. Its name refers to the fact that the eel is eaten in a green herb sauce.

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In this dish, the eel is cut and simmered with a mixture of herbs. While the herbs can vary some common ones are sage, ginger, mint, nettle, chives, basil, spearmint, and lemon balm. White wine, butter, salt, and cornflower are added to thicken the stew.

Here, the eel takes on the flavors of the herbs and butter. The taste is bright and fresh, while the eel is a little tighter in texture after being cooked this way. 

This is usually eaten hot, with bread, although occasionally it is eaten cold. 

Miến lươn 

In Vietnam, eels are commonly served this way. It is prepared similar to ramen.

Here the eel is either deep-fried or stir-fried. Then it is put into eel broth with vermicelli, and topped with beansprouts, ginger, and coriander.

Surprisingly, in this dish, the eel stays crispy even when sitting in the broth. Since the broth is generally made with eels as well, most of the flavor of the eel remains. It is enhanced by the ginger which gives it a little spice.

The Takeaway

People may be skeptical of eels due to their appearance. However, the flavor and texture of eels do not match what they look like.

Eels on their own have a wonderful subtly sweet flavor with a nice flakey texture. 

Don’t let the look of eels turn you off from trying them. They are flavorful and tasty.