Unagi is that squirmy slimmy freshwater eel that is delicacy in Japan.
The sauce that is poured over the rice and the Unagi is called “kabayaki” thus we have the dish also called Unagi-kabayaki or Unaju.
Kabayaki sauce, like Teriyaki sauce – it is made of soy sauce, mirin, (sweet rice wine) and sugar.
Unadon is the glazed-grilled Unagi on top of Japanese rice. Unadon comes from the words “Unagi and Domburi” , the later is the bowl.
We love Unaju, specially if the Unagi is the one that is, freshly, pardon my language- “captured and cut”.
But, really- this freshly skinned Unagi,
grilled over charcoal and topped on the hot Japanese rice with the Kabayaki sauce…is really super delicious.
Today, we witnessed the “execution” of many eels…as they were served to the many customers of the Unagi restaurant, including us.
Unagi is very popular amongst the Japanese all year round, but specially in demand during the summer months, for it is known as “stamina or energy” food. The Unagi restaurants that are popular are the ones that grill them fresh from the cutting board.
As the Unagi is being grilled, the sweet delicious sauce drips on the charcoal and creates a very pleasant “aroma”, and this smoke is actually filtered through a small window or exhaust dock that brings the smoke out to the streets to entice the people to come in.
The Unagi specialty restaurants are a little bit pricey compared to buying the packed Unagi at the grocery store and eating it at home.
There is even a Rakugo story of a very frugal man who did satisfy his appetite by just standing outside that Unagi shop exhaust window by just smelling the smoke with a cup of rice. ( Rakugo is a form of Japanese verbal entertainment where there is one storyteller.)
Lucky me, I had the chance to sit in the restaurant and enjoy the real thing and not just the smoke… 🙂