Dundonnell Smoked Salmon

What Is The History Behind Jellied Eels?

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01 September 2016

Jellied eels is a traditionally British dish that has been around for hundreds of years and despite people having mixed opinions about the snack, it doesn’t appear to be fading in popularity. 

It originated in the 18th Century and is famous for stemming from the East End in London. Fishermen used to catch lots of eels along the River Thames, including in London itself. 

Eating eels grew in popularity due to their abundance, making them relatively cheap to buy, and eel, pie and mash cafes popped up all over the capital. Being so inexpensive, they became particularly popular in East London where the poorer workers lived at the time, and are synonymous with the area, much like Cockney rhyming slang and Pearly Kings and Queens.

Eel pies were popular, but what has really stood the test of time is jellied eels – a dish consisting of chopped eels that have been boiled in stock and allowed to cool. During this process, they produce enough gelatin to set in a jelly-like substance. 

They are often accompanied with vinegar and white pepper to add a little spice to the quick and cheap side snack.

There might not be as many eel and pie houses around these days as there were 300 years ago, but you can still find some traditional shops in the East End, many of which are family businesses that have lasted over the centuries.

Jellied eels are definitely growing in popularity again, with sales increasing by 35 per cent at Tesco since the supermarket began selling them in stores outside of the capital.  

You can find delicious smoked eel at Dundonnel Smoked Salmon, along with fresh Scottish salmon, wild hare meat and other types of fish and game. 

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