Belgian Classics (17) : eel in green sauce

Sandra Slawinski 3rd August 2020 0 comments

This Belgian classic of freshwater eel with herby green sauce as many dishes, you either love it or hate. I don’t recall eating much of it growing up but I do love it.

Called “paling int groen” or “anguille au vert” and is originally fished out of the river de Schelde now of course farm raised. However it being summer holidays my fish monger (and the back up and the back up of the back up) are closed so I defaulted to the supermarket for smoked eel to make this dish, which works very well but is not the traditional recipe.

As part of a series of Belgian dishes posted every first Wednesday of the month, I vow to demystify these uber Belgian classics for you. Step-by-step I will show you what to do, this will have you successfully recreate those gorgeous rustic Belgian flavours you discovered in Belgium.

You need lots of fresh herbs, for me the chervil is an absolute must! Spinach, sorrel, parsley, watercress and tarragon all make this sauce packed with flavour.

Smoked eel here but fresh eel is required for the traditional recipe. Ask your fishmonger to skin and filet the eel.

NOTE: Each home cook has their take on the green sauce, it is all about the combo of the herbs and green leaves. It was a dish made by farmers and they just used what grew next to the river.


Belgian Classics (17): eel in green sauce

Yield 4 portions


  • 400 gr fresh eel, skinned and filets, cut in chunks of 10 cm
  • 1 lemon, 1/2 juiced, 1/2 wedge to serve
  • 2 small shallot, diced finely
  • 50 cl white wine
  • 1 table spoons butter, unsalted
  • salt and pepper
  • 100 gr of each of the green herbs: tarragon, parsley, sorrel, chervil,washed, coarsely chopped.
  • 100 gr young spinach leaves, washed
  • 100 gr watercress, washed


  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, sweat the shallots for a few minutes.
  2. Add the eel, white wine, season with salt and peper and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the eel and reserve. Add the spinach and watercress. Add the chopped herbs. Sauté for 5 minutes. Check seasoning,, add the lemon juice. Add the eel and serve with a lemon wedge and bread.


by Sandra Slawinski on 

Written and photographed by Sandra Slawinski without commercial deals. I used my bowls from ZaraHome and vintage silver from my parents former 2 Michelin star Restaurant Apicius.