This is the most typical way to eat eel in the region of Comacchio, where writer and photographer Simon Bajada sampled the dish at the Sagra dell’Anguilla—the annual fall Eel Festival. The fish holds up well to open-fire cooking, its flesh roasting tenderly as the skin turns crisp with char. It's important that the grill is not too high and hot; moderate heat will ensure the eel cooks evenly and develops a pleasant crust.
Ask your local fishmonger to bleed and “deslime” fresh eel for you, or order cleaned, frozen eel online from American Unagi.
For the eel:
- 2–2½ lb. eel fillets, cut into 3-in. pieces
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the polenta:
- 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for oiling the grill
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ¾ cups (6 oz.) medium-grain polenta
- ¼ cups (2 oz.) ground buckwheat