Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unagi Kabayaki

If you like Japanese food, and have had unagi kobayaki--broiled eel--at Japanese restaurants, you will be surprised at how easy it is to make at home.

When I was making this dish, I thought of my nephew Tyler.

He really likes unagi.

I thought, 'How can Ty make this at his house in Oregon?'


Just like my grandfather did--in a pan on top of the stove.

How 'bout it, Ty?

Does it look good?

If you're Japanese-American, you probably know unagi in a can--the HSK Hamanako Broiled Eels in the yellow and blue, flat, rectangular can.

My mother always has had a stack of them in her pantry, for as long as I can remember.

It's a fast, tasty meal.

My grandfather, Norwalk Jichan, loved unagi.

That's why my mother's family uses unagi when they make nori maki sushi.

Now that I'm thinking about those Hamanako Broiled Eel cans, I never saw her eating them--all those cans.

I'm wondering...

Hey Mom, did you eat unagi don after you fed us kids???

I hope she did.


That's what the Japanese letters say.

I know that because I went to Japanese Language School when I was little.

There's a little bit about Japanese School and me here.

I bought this unagi at Marukai Market.

You can get it at Japanese or Asian markets, it was in the deli section, but it comes frozen, so it might be in the frozen foods section.

If you buy it frozen, you'll want to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.

First you'll want to make your sauce.

A traditional sauce is equal parts shoyu (soy sauce) and mirin.

But I use my teriyaki sauce:

1 tablespoon shoyu, sugar, mirin--then add 3 tablespoons sake.
Heat that in a pan over medium heat, until it boils and the sugar has dissolved.

When the sugar has dissolved, add the unagi from the package, cutting the unagi as necessary to fit the pan.
Be sure to squeeze all the juices from the package into the pan also.

 Simmer gently until heated through and the sauce reduces a little and thickens a bit.

You can also cook it under the broiler and spoon the sauce on top when it's done.

Serve over rice.

Have a closer look!

My husband was so appreciative and happy to have this meal.

He said it was, "SO tasty!"



Meet Tyler.

He lives in Oregon and is going to school there.

He's a Duck.

Ty's home for a few weeks before summer session begins, and I'm excited to see him.

He spent a lot of time with us while he was growing up.

He's probably the top "spend the nighter" here while the kids were growing up.


Ty loves rice.

And aji nori.

He's a picky eater.

O-Jiichan's standard advice to him--

"Study hard and eat your vegetables."

Ty's nickname used to be Huggles.

Now it's T-Train.

He played La Crosse in high school, now he's having fun playing intra-mural sports in college.

He's also an Eagle Scout.

We're all so proud.

Especially his parents.

He named Rick as his mentor in his speech.

They're close.

They're all close.

Since Ty went away to college O-Jiichan tells him,

"Study hard, that's all. Vegetables? You don't want 'em, you don't have to eat 'em!"


Packaged unagi kabayaki found in Japanese markets or 
canned Hamanako Broiled Eels

Make a sauce of:
1 tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons sake

Put the sauce ingredients into a shallow pan and heat on medium-low heat until boiling and sugar has dissolved.

Add unagi from the package, also adding the juice from the package/can to the pot.

Simmer gently until heated through and the sauce reduces a little and thickens a bit. You could also cook the unagi under the broiler and spoon the sauce on top when it's done.

Serve over rice, garnish with chopped chives or green onions.


  1. Thanks so much for this. I love unagi but never thought to make it at home. I wonder if I can find it in any of the Asian supermarkets here in the UK. Will definitely have a look. Lovely photos!

  2. Unagi is one of my favorite foods. I also buy it frozen and I'm always so happy when I eat it! :)

  3. oh, and yet another new grocery item to explore!! may be perfect for my pescatarian daughter! Thanks, Karolyn!