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Simple Unagi Eel


Unagi over rice

Unagi over rice

Hank Shaw

Unagi, a freshwater eel native to Japan, is most often barbecued, steamed and served over rice. It is a favorite in American sushi restaurants because the sweet, savory glaze over the rich, dense eel marries perfectly with the vinegared rice of a nigiri sushi.

This recipe is about as simple as it gets: It makes use of the excellent pre-barbecued unagi available in many Asian markets, and a simple herbed and seasoned rice.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 package Japanese unagi eel, about 9 ounces
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 t. salt
  • 3 T. finely chopped chives
  • 3 chopped scallions or green onions or baby leeks
  • 2 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T. sesame oil
  • 1-2 T. Thai fish sauce or soy sauce


Make the rice with the salt in a rice cooker or by simmering in 1 and a half cups of water.

Start the broiler to get it hot.

In a large bowl, mix together the oil, fish sauce, vinegar, scallions and half the chives.

Skin the unagi if it is not already skinned -- it will just peel right off -- and broil it until the eel begins to color. This will only take a few minutes. Flip the eel and do the same on the other side.

To assemble, mix the rice in the large bowl with the seasonings. Scoop into large bowls and top with the rest of the chives. Arrange small pieces of the unagi eel on top and enjoy!

This dish screams for a cold lager beer, but a crisp chenin blanc or a vinho verde would be good, too.

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