Angulas is the Spanish name for young European eels or "elver" eels. When these tiny eels arrive in fish markets, they are already two or three-years-old but are only about 3 inches (8 cm) long, and as thick as a strand of spaghetti. Although baby eel was originally a common fisherman's dish eaten in the Basque Country, it is now very expensive with prices reaching over 1,000 euros per kilo (2.2 lbs) in Spain. Several factors have contributed to the skyrocketing price, including increased demand across Spain and Asia, decreased supply from overfishing, and changes in the ocean habitat. Many shoppers in Spain purchase mock angulas, which are commonly known as gulas.
The 2007 news story, "Angulas a 1000 Euros," first appeared on Spanish television and offers a good close-up on angulas in the market. Listen to the Spanish customer commentary to learn more about the spiraling prices.
How Angulas Are Eaten
Known as the caviar of Northern Spain, angulas are typically eaten with some simple garlic and oil. A wooden Boj fork, rather than a metal one, is recommended so that the flavor of the dish remains unchanged. These tiny baby eels are one of the most supreme seafood delicacies of Spain and can be sauteed "Bilbao" style at home, which only takes about 10 minutes.
Consider the classic Spanish recipe, "Angulas a la Bilbaina," which involves angulas in an earthenware dish with garlic, olive oil, and chili peppers cut in rings. You may also add white wine and season the baby eels with salt and pepper. Other similar recipes tend to include Del Piquillo pimientos, julienne, and herbs like thyme and bay leaf to create a spiced oil. There are several ways to enjoy angulas at dinner, such as part of a four-course meal, tapas style, or with a spicy spaghetti.
Where to Buy Angulas
Several internet retailers based in the United States carry 4 oz. sizes of authentic eels. For example, tiny baby eels can be found on Amazon through brands like Conservas de Cambados, La Tienda, and Iberia. These real baby eels are from places like Galicia and are hand-prepared and packed in oil. Typically, the package is already mixed with ingredients like salt and cayenne pepper as well. This gourmet food is the perfect experience for those who are interested in Spain's culture. You can follow a classic recipe, serve it on crusty bread, or eat it on a flavorful Torta de Aciete.
A single serving of angulas is only 1 to 2.5 oz. (50 to 75 grams), so a can would serve two as a first course. For those who want to taste angulas without spending a small fortune, mock angulas are made of Pollock fish (gulas) and are available in jars or cans (4 oz./111 gr) in stores for a fraction of the cost. Pollock fish typically refer to the two species of North Atlantic marine fish, popular in Europe, North America, and Alaska waters. Gulas can be enjoyed on sliced bread that's topped with mayonnaise and some red peppers.