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The Gameplan : Unagi in Seattle

Unagi, or Freshwater Eel, is one of my favorite sushi of all time. I love the sweetness, crispy, soft and tender texture, and goes perfectly with white rice. It’s also a great bento dish. Since it’s quite easy to make at home, I look for Unagi with special attention paid to it– namely if it’s charbroiled and has a certain crispiness to it. The sweet sauce is also huge.


(From Grilled unagi is a delicacy in Japan, popular not only for its flavor but also for its stamina-giving properties. It’s traditionally eaten during one of the hottest days of the summer (sometime in late July) to provide strength and vitality for the rest of the year.

Good unagi combines a rich flavor (a bit like pate) with an appetizing texture, crisp on the outside but tender on the inside. The cooking process is what makes the eel both crisp and tender: The eels are first grilled over hot charcoals, then steamed to remove excess fat, then seasoned with a sweetish sauce and grilled a second time. In the Kansai area (around Osaka) the steaming step is omitted and the eel is grilled longer, burning off the excess fat and producing an even crisper skin.

The ingredients in the sweet basting sauce are important to the final taste of the unagi, and different restaurants have their own secret recipes. The quality of the charcoal used is also important: The best charcoal is made from hard oak wood, and the aromatic smoke adds a special flavor to the eel as it grills.


The definitive list of 5 restaurants in Seattle I will be comparing this entree will be: Nishino, Saito’s, Rain Modern, Maneki and Chiso. Can’t wait!


One Response to “The Gameplan : Unagi in Seattle”

  1. Unagi is one of my favourite things to order at a Japanese restaurant.
    Also, Kansai is great.

    Thanks for the mouth-watering images.

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