A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents

Lamprays in brewte

PERIOD: England, late 15th c. | SOURCE: MS Pepys 1047 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Roasted eels served in a simple pepper ale sauce.

Facsimile of receipt from the original manuscript:

Transcription of original receipt:

Lamprays in brewte (22.1)

Take lawprays and skall them be kynde then roste hem on A grede yrne and grynd pepur And saferon, mell hit with Ale so serue the lamprays.

Modern translation:

Lamprays in bruet (22.1).

Take lampreys and scale them as needed then roast them on a grid iron and grind pepper and saffron, mix it with ale. So serve the lampreys.

(22.1) brewte - broth, or a dish of food cooked in broth. The more common medieval spelling was bruet. See Hieatt, Curye on Inglisch, pp. 174-175.

Modern recipe:

  • fresh eels
  • slightly stale ale - use about 1 cup for each 1-2 person serving.
  • freshly ground black pepper - use about 1 tsp. to 1 tbs. per each cup of ale, depending on how strong you wish the sauce to be.
  • pinch saffron - since saffron was mostly used in medieval cooking for coloring and not for flavor, a few drops of yellow food coloring may substitiute.
Cut the eels into pieces about 1 1/2 inches long; roast or grill until done. In a separate pan heat the ale until just boiling, then reduce to a simmer. With a wire whip add the spices; allow to simmer for several minutes, stirring with the whisk occasionally. Place the eel pieces in a shallow bowl and add enough ale to just barely cover eels. Serve.

Eels may be hard to find in the United States, but are more common in Great Britain, especially in London which still has in residence its famed Eels and Mash shops. Eel is also a popular item on Sushi menus.

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