Salt and pepper sand eel

Bill Granger turns a British seaside treat into a savoury Chinese favourite
By Bill Granger
Salt and pepper sand eel
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the sweet chilli sauce

  • 10 red chillies, finely diced
  • 500 ml rice wine vinegar
  • 330 g sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp salt

For the sand eel

  • 180 g cornflour
  • 170 ml soda water
  • light flavoured oil, such as sunflower, for frying
  • 1 tsp sea salt, plus extra for serving
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper, plus extra for serving
  • 500 g sand eel, trimmed and gutted
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • lime wedges, to serve


1. For the sweet chilli sauce: combine all the ingredients into a small saucepan and stir over a low hear until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture thickens to a slightly syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. For the sand eel: prepare the batter for the sand eel by mixing together 120g of the cornflour and the soda water in a bowl and set aside.

3. Place a wok over a medium-high heat and heat 5cm oil in the wok until very hot. Meanwhile season the remaining 60g cornflour with the salt and pepper.

4. Dust the eel in the seasoned cornflour then dip it into the batter. Fry in small batches until golden and crisp, adding the chilli and spring onion for the last few seconds of cooking. Drain on kitchen paper.

5. Serve the eel sprinkled with the chilli, spring onions, and lots more sea salt and ground black pepper, and accompany with the sweet chilli sauce and lime wedges.

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