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Eel and Bone Marrow, Eggplant and Pickled Vegetables

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This elegant dish uses the ancient flavors of dashi and fresh vegetables combined with modern techniques to bring you a dish that tastes as great as it looks. Not surprising, since it’s from the kitchen of molecular gastronomy Chef Dan Hunter of Royal Mail Restaurant in Dunkeld, Australia.

Bone marrow with caramelized eel glaze, eel nougatine, torched eggplant puree, pickled vegetables, lime confit and herbs. The eggplant puree is made with a marinade containing Valrhona chocolate! Very interesting flavors and combination of textures.

One of the challenges that Chef Hunter faced when opening a restaurant away from a major city was a lack of fresh produce, so he solved the problem by planting his own garden. At Royal Mail, every piece of produce in this dish is grown right there on

Royal Mail Eel by Chef Dan Hunter

the hotel grounds and picked fresh daily so that guests are treated to the wonderful tastes that only fresh foods can deliver. Thanks, Chef Dan, for sharing this modernist recipe with us!

Tools needed

- Mixer

- Mandolin

- Tamis

- Vacuum bag

Ingredients List

Although the eel paste and veal stock recipes make more than needed, it is the minimum volume that should be attempted.

Eel Paste Ingredients

- 475g (16.76oz) puréed smoked eel meat

- 50g (1.76oz) squid ink

Nougatine Ingredients

-  70ml (2.37oz) full cream milk

- 40g (1.41oz) castor sugar

- 8g (0.28oz) pectin NH (nappage)

- 17g (0.06oz) glucose

- 40g (1.41oz) unsalted butter

- 7g (0.25oz) flour

- 150g (5.29oz) eel paste

Veal stock (yields 10 liters)

- 20kg (44lbs) veal knuckle bones

- 16kg (35lbs) stewing beef

- 7.4kg (16lbs) brown onions

- 3.2kg (7lbs) large carrots

- 1.3 kg (2.87lbs) large, ripe tomatoes

- 10 liters (2.64gal) red wine reduced to 1 liter

- 2 pork trotters

- 1 calves foot, split

- 50 liters (13.21gal) water

Eel Glaze

- 400g (14.12oz) eel meat and bones

- 25g (.88oz) Japanese sesame oil

- 100g (3.53oz) shallot

- 20g (0.71oz) ginger

- 2g (0.70oz) red Szechuan pepper

- 50g (1.76oz) maple syrup

- 100g (3.53oz) sake

- 2.5 liters (2.64 quarts) reduced veal stock (results in 750ml)

Bone Marrow

- 4 large pieces of veal shin bone marrow around 3.5cm thick.


- 1 large eggplant, skin removed

- 0.5g (0.02oz) of gellan to 100g (3.53oz) of purée

Dashi Ingredients

- 1.8 (2quarts) litres filtered water

- 30g (1.06oz) konbu

- 28g (1oz) bonito flakes

Blanching Liquor Ingredients

- 400ml (14.53oz) dashi

- 15ml (0.51oz) light soy sauce

- 5g (0.18oz) caster sugar

- 8g (0.28oz) bonito flakes

- 4g (0.14oz) salt

Eggplant Marinade

- 125g (4.41oz) shiro miso paste (white)

- 60ml (2.03oz) light soy sauce

- 30ml (1.02oz) lemon juice

- 1 clove organic Australian garlic

- 50g (1.76oz) Valrhona ‘Caraibe’ chocolate

- 10ml (0.34oz) pure Japanese sesame oil

- 100ml (3.38oz) eggplant cooking liquor

Pickled Vegetables Ingredients (per portion)

All vegetables are baby:

- 3 slices of raw golden beetroot

- 3 slices of raw Chioggia beetroot

- 3 slices of raw bulls blood beetroot

- 1 slices of raw black radish

- 2 halves cooked French breakfast radish

- 2 halves cooked purple top turnip

- 1 half cooked golden turnip

- 1 whole raw radar radish (baby) with leaves

Pickling Liquor Ingredients

- 250ml (8.45oz) water

- 64.25g (2.27oz)sugar

- 100ml (3.38oz) white wine vinegar

- 30ml (1oz) lemon juice

- 20ml (0.68oz) lime juice

Lime Confit Ingredients

- 1 lime

- 200ml (6.76oz) water

- 50ml (16.9oz) sugar

Leaves (per portion)

- 1 large Vietnamese mint leaf

- 3 empress of India nasturtium

- 2-3 yarrow leaves

- Turnip and radish leaves


Preparing the Eel Puree

1 - Remove the head from the eel.

2 - Take the fillets off the bone and remove the skin.

3 - Pass the meat through a tamis.

4 - Combine it with the squid ink.

5 - Set aside.

Preparing the Nougatine

1 - Combine butter, milk, sugar, pectin and glucose in a saucepan and stir while heating slowly to 108 degrees Celsius.

2 - At 108 C remove the pot from the heat.

3 - Add the previously sifted flour and eel purée stirring it rapidly so that a homogenous paste is achieved.

4 - Pour the mixture out onto grease-proof paper.

5 - Immediately roll the mixture out to about 3mm thickness.

6 - Transfer the sheets to the freezer.

7 - When frozen remove the sheets of paper and bake the nougatine mixture at 130 degrees C for 16-18 minutes.

8 - Allow to cool and reserve in an airtight container until needed. The wafer should be crisp.

Preparing the Veal Stock

(All ingredients are to be roasted @ 200 degrees Celsius, 390 degrees Fahrenheit)

1 - Rub the bones with oil and roast them to a deep golden brown, turning them when needed and draining off excessive amounts of fat.

2 - Cut the beef into large pieces, coat it with oil and roast to a deep brown.

3 - Peel carrots and onions.

4 - Leave carrots whole.

5 - Halve the onions.

6 – Roast everything until dark.

7 – Halve the tomatoes and roast until dark in color.

8 - Place all roasted ingredients into a large stock pot with remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer .

9 - Skim any fat and impurities from the surface and simmer for 12 hours.

10 - Ensure that the stock never boils hard and skim it regularly over the entire cooking time.

11 - Once the stock has cooked for the prescribed time, pass it, first through a coarse strainer and then a fine one and return it to the stove to reduce.

12 - Continue to skim any impurities from the surface and reduce the liquid to 10 liters (2.64 gal).

13 - Pass again through a fine strainer and cool rapidly.

14 - Reserve until needed.

Preparing the Eel Glaze

1 - Warm sesame oil in a wide pot.

2 - Slowly sweat sliced shallot and ginger without coloring.

3 - Add Szechuan pepper then maple syrup and honey and allow to lightly caramelize.

4 - Deglaze with sake.

5 - Add eel trim and then veal stock and finally tamari.

6 - Bring the stock to a gentle simmer, skimming impurities that surface and cook out slowly.

7 -Reduce the stock as it cooks to 750ml.

8 - Pass through a fine strainer, check seasoning and chill rapidly.

Preparing the Bone Marrow

1 - Place the shins into ice water and leave them to soak for around 12 hours. This will soften the marrow.

2 - Once softened press out the pieces of marrow and return them to fresh iced water. Discard the bones.

3 - The iced water will help to leach out some of the blood.

4 - Once clean keep the marrow in water until needed.

Preparing the Dashi

1 - Place konbu and water into a vac bag and bring to 60 degrees.

2 - Maintain the temperature for 1 hour.

3 - Remove the konbu from the water and in a pot bring the water to 80 degrees Celsious.

4 - Remove from the heat.

5 - Add the bonito and let stand for exactly 20 seconds.

6 - Strain and chill.

7 - Cover the dashi and refrigerate until needed.

Preparing the Blanching Liquor

1 - Wrap the bonito flakes in muslin making sure that the ‘package’ is tied correctly.

2 - Combine all other ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil.

3 - Add bonito as a lid when blanching the eggplant.

Preparing the Eggplant Marinade

1 - Purée the garlic.

2 - Melt the chocolate in a bowl over steam.

3 - Once liquid, combine the chocolate with all other ingredients ensuring that a homogenous paste is formed.

Preparing the Eggplant

1 - Remove the skin from the eggplant and cut the flesh down into smaller pieces.

2 - Blanch the eggplant in the dashi keeping it submerged with the bonito ‘bundle’. The eggplant should simmer for 8-10 minutes to ensure that it is completely cooked.

3 - Once cooked through, remove eggplant from the cooking liquor.

4 - Combine it with the marinade at a ratio of 400g (14.12oz) of blanched eggplant to 100g (3.53oz) of marinade (4:1).

5 -  Purée the eggplant and marinade.

6 - Allow the finished product to cool.

7 - When completely cold return the eggplant to a mixer and thicken with a ratio of 0.5g (0.02oz) of gellan to 100g (3.53oz) of purée.

8 - Store covered at 60 degrees until needed.

Preparing the Vegetable Pickle

1 - Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar, and citrus juices.

2 - Combine with the water.

3 - Store covered.

4 - Refrigerated until needed.

Preparing the Pickled Vegetables

1 - Slice all beetroots separately on a mandolin.

2 - Place them by variety into separate containers.

3 - Cover each group with the vegetable pickle.

4 - Do the same with the black radish.

5 - Combine halved breakfast radishes with the pickling liquor in a vac bag and seal on maximum pressure.

6 - Cook the radish at 65 C for 5 minutes. Refresh in the bag when cooked.

7 - Once cool open the bag and transfer the contents, radishes and liquor, to an airtight container.

8 - Place turnips into salted water and bring to the boil.

9 - Remove from the heat instantly as they boil and transfer them to a container submerging them in the pickling liquor.

10 - Reserve all vegetables submerged in the pickle refrigerated until needed.

Preparing the Lime Confit

1 - Using a sharp paring knife, remove the lime zest taking care not to remove the bitter pith.

2 - Once removed slice the zest into thin even 3 cm long pieces.

3 - Blanch the zest from cold a couple of times to remove any bitterness.

4 - Dissolve the sugar in the water and place the lime zest in the liquid.

5 - On a very low heat cook or ‘confit’ the zest until the liquid thickens slightly and the zest has softened.

6 - Reserve in an airtight container.

Preparing the Leaves

1 - Wash all leaves in iced water, dry them on paper towel and portion them into sealed containers.

2 - Reserve refrigerated until needed.


1 - Blanch the marrow in salted water for at least 1 minute ensuring that it gets hot in the centre. Transfer the hot marrow to a small pan and roll it in the reduced eel glaze.

2 - Once it is completely covered transfer the marrow to a tray and caramelize it under a salamander.

3 - Place a large spoonful of eggplant purée in the centre of a shallow bowl.

4 - Brown it with a blow torch.

5 - Arrange the pickled vegetables around the left hand side of the burnt purée with one slice of lime zest.

6 - Place 2 large slices of eel nougatine randomly between the vegetables.

7 - Scatter the herbs, place the marrow on the eggplant purée and serve.