What a way to start the weekend. My wife’s cousin gave me a call and invited me to dinner. Her parents own a popular restaurant in Kumamoto and they sometimes overnight a container or Eel which is their specialty.
Kabayaki is a term used to describe fish, usually unagi, that’s filleted and dipped in a sweet soy sauce-base “Kabayaki Sauce” before being grilled. Their secret unagi sauce recipe is about as precious to my wife’s family as my grandmother’s spaghetti sauce recipe is to my family.
It was the best food that I’ve had in a long, long time. I think I could eat unagi everyday and not get tired of it. My wife’s cousin, Naho, cooked it perfectly - a little crispy.
We also had shiroyaki which is unagi grilled with lemon instead of kabayaki sauce. The combination of kabayaki sauce and lemon sauce unagi dishes made me a happy white boy in Japan.
The Japanese have a term for leaving the last piece of food on the table for someone else to eat called “enryo no nokori.” (I think I spelled that right). Nobody in our family is worried about eating the last piece. I quickly took this snapshot for the blog’s sake before it disappeared.
Here are some facts about unagi courtesy of, “Health Hokkaido.” You can read the entire article, “Health Benefits of Japanese Eel”
Beef Saturday”- The Origin of Eel Day
As I mentioned, it’s customary to eat unagi , especially grilled ones, on specific dates, which we call “doyou-no ushi-no hi”. Some of my non-Japanese friends are confused by this. They ask me “Why do Japanese eat eel on Beef Saturdays -” They mistakenly think that “doyou” means “Saturday”, and that “Ushi” means “beef”. In fact, in this case “doyou” means “the end of the season”. Each season has its own “doyou”. It usually lasts 18-days, but the summer one is especially important in Japan. We send summer greeting cards, “syochu mimai” during the summer doyou. According to the old calendar, the period is at the end of summer, but actually it’s in the middle of summer. This is why we call doyou the “Midsummer Day” in English.