Eel Sushi (Unagi Sushi) Recipe Rolling with Flavor

Eel Sushi (Unagi Sushi) Recipe Rolling with Flavor
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Eel Sushi (Unagi Sushi) Recipe
Create your own tasty eel sushi with this easy recipe! All you need is pre-grilled eel, seasoned rice, and a sweet soy glaze. In just 15 minutes, you can make delicious sushi for lunch, dinner, or a quick snack. Try it out and satisfy your sushi cravings!

Let’s dive into the world of Unagi, the Japanese term for freshwater eel, specifically the Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica). This delectable dish holds a special place in Japanese cuisine, celebrated for its tradition and popularity. Unagi is not just any eel; it’s a culinary delight that has captured the hearts and palates of many in Japan and beyond, thanks to its tender and rich flavor, turning it into a global delicacy.

The art of preparing Unagi involves a technique known as “kabayaki.” This method includes butterflying the eel, skewering it, and then grilling it over an open flame or charcoal. What adds the magic touch is the sweet soy-based glaze, aptly named “tare,” brushed onto the eel during grilling. The result? A succulent, sweet, and savory glaze that elevates the natural flavors of the eel. The versatility of Unagi shines through in popular dishes like “Unadon” – a grilled eel rice bowl, and “Hitsumabushi” – a Nagoya specialty offering different ways to savor the eel, either as is, with condiments, or mixed with broth and rice.

Beyond its delicious taste, Unagi holds cultural significance in Japan, often enjoyed on special occasions like the mid-summer “Doyo no Ushi no Hi” (Day of the Ox) and the Japanese custom of “Eel Day” – a practice believed to provide stamina during the hot season. Recognized not only for its cultural importance but also for its nutritional value, Unagi boasts protein and healthy fats, making it a wholesome addition to your dining experience. Join us on this journey as we explore the world of Unagi, a dish that combines tradition, flavor, and cultural significance.

Reasons to Love This Recepy!

Well, there are quite a few delightful reasons that will make your taste buds do a happy dance. Let’s dive into the enticing world of this Japanese delicacy:

  • Rich Flavor Magic: Unagi isn’t just your average fish. It boasts a unique and rich flavor profile that gets a flavor boost from grilling and a sweet soy glaze. If you’re into bold and captivating tastes, this one’s for you.
  • Textural Bliss: Imagine a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture that makes each bite a small piece of heaven. That’s what perfectly grilled Unagi offers. The soft feel meets the slightly firm rice in nigiri, creating a texture party in your mouth.
  • Eye-Catching Elegance: Your eyes feast before your taste buds. The glossy, caramelized glaze on the eel and the meticulous presentation of nigiri on a cozy bed of rice make Unagi Nigiri not just a treat for your taste buds but a visual delight.
  • Umami Galore: Ever heard of umami? It’s the fifth taste sensation, and Unagi Nigiri is packed with it. Umami elevates the overall flavor experience, making your culinary journey more satisfying and memorable.
  • Customizable Joy: Unagi sushi is a versatile canvas. Whether you’re a purist enjoying the classic eel sushi or a bold flavor explorer adding wasabi, ginger, or other condiments, Unagi Nigiri adapts to your taste preferences with open arms.

Overview: How To Make Eel Sushi (Unagi Sushi)?


Embark on a culinary adventure with our Unagi Nigiri recipe, a delightful blend of perfectly grilled BBQ unagi (Japanese eel) nestled atop a bed of seasoned sushi rice. Before diving into the kitchen, gather your ingredients, ensuring a seamless cooking experience. Look for pre-grilled and seasoned unagi at your local Asian grocery or Japanese store to simplify the grilling process. Opt for high-quality Japanese short-grain rice, sticky enough to hold its shape, and nori sheets to secure the eel to the rice. Don’t forget the sweet soy glaze, or tare, which can be homemade or store-bought, adding a savory touch to the grilled eel.

The heart of our recipe lies in the Tare Sauce, a flavorful concoction that elevates the umami experience. Soy sauce, mirin, and sake create a symphony of tastes, enhancing the richness, sweetness, and tanginess of the sauce. Dark brown sugar brings sweetness, balanced by the umami-rich soy sauce, while garlic adds depth. The meticulous process of simmering and straining results in a velvety sauce that coats the eel beautifully.

Now, let’s dive into the cooking process. Begin by preparing the sushi rice, following package instructions, and seasoning it with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. As the rice cools, move on to the Tare Sauce, where a harmonious blend of ingredients simmers to perfection, creating a luscious coating for the eel. Once these foundations are set, broil the pre-grilled unagi, cut it into slices, and delicately brush it with the tantalizing Tare Sauce.

Completing the experience involves crafting the nigiri. Wet your hands to prevent rice stickiness and shape small, oblong mounds of seasoned sushi rice. Wrap a strip of nori around the center, securing the unagi in place while adding an extra layer of flavor. Top it all off by placing a slice of the Tare-glazed unagi atop each rice mound. In six simple steps, you’ve created a masterpiece – Unagi Nigiri that promises an explosion of flavors and textures in every bite. Enjoy this culinary journey, a perfect blend of simplicity and sophistication!

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Eel Sushi (Unagi Sushi) Recipe Rolling with Flavor

Eel Sushi (Unagi Sushi) Recipe

Create your own tasty eel sushi with this easy recipe! All you need is pre-grilled eel, seasoned rice, and a sweet soy glaze. In just 15 minutes, you can make delicious sushi for lunch, dinner, or a quick snack. Try it out and satisfy your sushi cravings!
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Calories: 111kcal
Author: Anne Carter
Servings: 8


  • Cutting Board
  • Bamboo Sushi Rolling Mat
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Saucepan
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Serving Platter
  • Seaweed Sheets



2 packages pre-grilled unagi (enough for 8 slices)

2 cups cooked sushi rice

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 nori sheet (cut into ½ inch stripes


    ½ cup soy sauce

    ½ cup mirin

    ¼ cup sake

    ¼ cup dark brown sugar

    3 garlic cloves (peeled and mashed))


      • Cook sushi rice following package instructions.While it's still warm, mix in rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Gently fold until combined.
      • Allow rice to cool to room temperature. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Whisk until smooth and bring to a boil.
      • Simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce is reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer.
      • Place pre-grilled unagi on a baking sheet and broil in the oven for 6-8 minutes. If whole, cut in half lengthwise and then into diagonal slices
      • Lightly brush with the prepared tare sauce. Cut nori sheets into thin strips (about ½ inch thick) long enough to wrap around each rice mound.
      • Wet your hands with water to prevent rice sticking.Take a small amount of seasoned rice, shape it into an oblong mound, roughly the size of your index finger.
      • Wrap a strip of nori around the center of the rice mound to secure the unagi and add flavor.Place a slice of pre-grilled unagi on top of the rice.
      • Arrange the unagi nigiri on a serving platter.Serve with pickled ginger and soy sauce.Enjoy your delicious homemade unagi nigiri!


      Calories: 111kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 0.2mg | Sodium: 930mg | Potassium: 52mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 21IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.5mg
      Keyword eel sushi, eel unagi sushi, unagi sushi recipes, unagi sushi sauce

      What to Serve with Eel Sushi (Unagi Sushi)?

      Tips for Perfect Unagi Sushi

      1. Quality Ingredients Matter:
        • Use fresh or well-prepared pre-grilled unagi.
        • Opt for premium sushi rice and authentic Japanese tare (sweet soy glaze).
      2. Master the Rice Seasoning:
        • Achieve the right balance by seasoning sushi rice with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.
        • Ensure the rice is sticky enough to hold its shape without being too wet.
      3. Avoid Sticky Situations:
        • Keep your hands moist to prevent the rice from sticking.
        • Moistened hands make shaping nigiri a breeze.
      4. Shape the Perfect Rice Mound:
        • Form an oblong rice mound, roughly two bites’ worth.
        • Aim for a size that’s just right – not too small, not too large.
      5. Nori Know-How:
        • Position the nori strip around the center of the rice mound.
        • This not only keeps the unagi in place but also adds an extra umami kick.
      6. Unagi Placement Precision:
        • Center the pre-grilled unagi slice directly on the rice.
        • Ensure even coverage over the rice mound for a balanced bite.
      7. Wasabi Wisdom:
        • If using wasabi, apply sparingly on the unagi or between the unagi and rice.
        • Remember, the unagi itself is already bursting with flavor.
      8. Garnish with Grace:
        • If adding optional toppings like toasted sesame seeds or chopped scallions, do so with a light hand.
        • Enhance presentation and flavor without overshadowing the delicious unagi.|

      Managing Leftovers!

      • Promptly refrigerate any leftover unagi nigiri.
      • Let it cool a bit before storing it in the fridge.
      • Wrap the leftover nigiri tightly in plastic wrap.
      • Keep the wrap snug, not tight enough to squash the nigiri.
      • Alternatively, use an airtight container for added protection.
      • Refrigerate the wrapped or containerized nigiri below 40°F (4.4°C).
      • The colder, the better – it keeps your leftovers safe and tasty.
      • Consume leftover unagi nigiri within 1 to 2 days for the best flavor and texture.
      • Note that rice might become less enjoyable over time.

      Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

      Q: What kind of fish is unagi?

      A:Unagi refers to freshwater eel, particularly the Japanese eel, Anguilla japonica. It has a rich, flavorful taste and is commonly used in Japanese cuisine.

      Q: Is unagi sushi cooked?

      A: Yes, unagi sushi features cooked eel. The eel is typically grilled and then glazed with a sweet soy-based sauce called tare. It is then used as a topping for sushi, such as nigiri or rolls.

      Q: Can we eat eel raw?

      A:Generally, it is not recommended to eat eel raw. Eel, especially freshwater eel like unagi, is typically cooked before consumption. Cooking helps eliminate any potential parasites and ensures the eel is safe to eat. Therefore, traditional unagi dishes, including unagi sushi, involve cooking the eel thoroughly.

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