Grilled Eel Over Rice (Unagi don)
To be honest, I hadn’t come to eat anything seafood-based until the recent few years. Maybe a bit of shrimp, and even more recently in that time span have I come to enjoy salmon. Eventually I came to like tuna and salmon sushi (Raw, mind you!).
Whenever I’ve went to Japanese restaurants, I always saw a particular dish that left me curious: Unagi Don.
Each time of course, I shy away. After all, I could only take tuna and salmon in small bits, and barely enjoyed them being cooked. Any other type of fish? Good luck getting a picky eater like me eat it. So when I saw just what Unagi was — Grilled Eel — I immediately dismissed it and moved onto something more “normal”.
I can’t really explain what caused me to change my mind, to be honest. Believe me, I still haven’t ordered it from an actual restaurant, but when I stumbled upon the recipe over at Just One Cookbook I had a strong urge to be adventurous and try it out. The recipe itself is rather simple, although the ingredients might be a bit difficult to find depending on where you live. Thankfully, Japanese ingredients are becoming more and more common in mainstream large grocery stores which allows things such as mirin or cooking sake to be now found among its western counterparts.
The eel? Char broiled eel, specifically? You might need to find an Asian grocer specifically for that. Whether at a Chinese, Korean, or Japanese marketplace, you should be able to find vacuum-sealed eel ready to heat up and eat. Half of the work done!
It’s really hard to explain the taste of it. it tastes like salmon… yet not. Don’t worry however – it still tastes delicious, with a nice smoky flavour that comes out due to the broil – before being complimented by the sweet-ish taste of the sauce. You don’t need much time for prep, especially if you already have the rice ready to go: Maybe 20 minutes max.
It turned out great for my first time, personally!
This recipe is based off of Just One Cookbook’s recipe of Unagi Don.
- Half of 1 Charbroiled Eel Filet
- 1/4 c. soy sauce
- 1/4 c. mirin
- 2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp. sake
- To start off the sauce, pour both the mirin and sake into a small pot, and boil until the alcohol is fully evaporated.
- At the sugar, stirring constantly until it is dissolved. Once done, add in the soy sauce, and allow the mixture to come back to a boil. Once the boiling begins, reduce the heat down to medium and let simmer until the sauce thickens. (this usually takes ~10 minutes.)
- While the sauce simmers, cut the piece of filet in half, sized for each of your serving bowls. Place them on a baking sheet lined with foil and brushed (or sprayed!) with light oil.
- Place the baking sheet in the middle of your oven when cold, then broil on high for ~7 minutes.
- Brush the sauce onto the eel, then let cook for an additional minute - you will start seeing the sauce darken and bubble. You can take it out then.
- Brush the rice in the bowl with a bit of the sauce before placing the filet on top, then pour additional sauce over that.
- Your Grilled Eel is ready to go!