Japanese Unagi


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.

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5 Responses to Japanese Unagi

  1. Kaori says:

    MMMMMM….I am so jealous! I’ve been eating my uncle and aunt’s Unagi since I was a little girl. They have a small unagi restaurant called Ichitoku in Kumamoto. During “ushi no hi,” people from all over the country line up to take a bite out of this delicious….fish? Don’t really know what category unagi would fall under but my family’s unagi is to die for. What makes it the best is their sauce. Once you taste it..you will know what I’m talking about.

  2. tony says:

    Wow! When you said “crispy” I knew it was cooked to perfection. Alot of people aren’t aware of this very important requirement. I dined in two very famous restaurants in Hamamatsu a while back, and one thing I remember most is a light crispy taste. I remember being taken out by a client to a fancy unagi shop in Maranouchi once, and the unagi must’ve been the oilest think I had ever eaten. The way your wife’s folks cooked it was perfect. I know it was delicious.

  3. Gweb says:

    Just read the Takoyaki article and now this??!
    It’s only 10:00am here, but I’m already ready for lunch.


  4. romzi says:

    anybody can post me a unagi sauce resepi..hehehh

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