"This dish was created for friends who don't eat pork. The smoked eel plays the part of guanciale or pancetta, providing those smoky umami notes. Be generous with the black pepper - its heat is essential for cutting through the richness of the egg yolks and cheese. And please don't ever put cream in a carbonara," Orr says. Start this recipe three days ahead to prepare the eel, or substitute store-bought smoked eel (see note).
Get Mitch's basic pasta recipe.
Note If you're using store-bought smoked eel, this recipe calls for around 440gm smoked, skinned fillets. If you don't remove the skin before smoking the eel, it will take a further 5-10 minutes to cook (15-25 minutes in total). Chunks of wood for smoking are available from barbecue shops. Pick out the medium-sized pieces and soak them in cold water for at least an hour before use.
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