Introduction: Japanese BBQ Eel - Unagi Hitsumabushi

About: I'm a 49 year old Systems Architect living in the Midwestern United States. After travelling the world for 20 years as a consulting architect I became disabled, as a result, I am now embracing a Slow life. F…

Unagi, or Japanese BBQ Eel, is one of my favorite foods. Whether in, or on, a sushi roll, in a bento, or served like this - Hitsumabushi, the bbq flavor, tender fish, and crispy skin are a triple delight.

The majority of Unagi is sold frozen and pre-sauced, and this recipe takes advantage of that. It also shows how to make extra sauce for the rice, and how to serve it several different, but equally tasty, ways.


For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp Sake or Cooking Rice Wine
  • 2 tbsp Mirin
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • 1 1/2 cups Dashi stock (2 cups boiling water + 2 tsp Hon Dashi)

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Step 1: Getting Started

To get started, spray cooking spray on grill topper, place on grill, pre-heat grill to high heat, and start rice.

Step 2: Dashi Stock

Pour two cups boiling water over 2 tsp Hon Dashi (in strainer). Cover with lid.

Step 3: BBQ Sauce

The Hon Dashi will dissolve in the boiling water quickly. Once it dissolves, pour 1 1/2 cups of it in a small saucier, preferably one with a pour spout. Add the Mirin and Sake and bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes until the alcohol boils away. Add Soy Sauce and Honey and bring to a boil then remove from heat.

NOTE:The bbq sauce won't be as thick as what came with the Unagi, it isn't supposed to be. The thinner sauce works better on rice.

Step 4: Grilling Time

Place the thawed Unagi filet skin side down on the grill topper. Grill for 3-5 minutes until skin is crisp, basting the flesh once with sake. The easiest way to tell the skin is getting crisp is smell - it starts to get fragrant. Keep a close eye on the Unagi, it can burn easily. Once the skin side is crisp, flip and cook on opposite side, for 3-5 more minutes, basting once with sake.

.Remove from grill.

Step 5: Plate and Serve Japanese BBQ Eel

Arrange cooked rice on a plate or in a bowl and cover with sauce. Place Unagi filet (whole or sliced) on top of the rice. Place remaining dashi stock, optional seasonings, and plate on table.

The Unagi can be eaten several ways, here are some suggestions:

  • Simply place rice in bowl and top with a couple of small unagi pieces
  • Place rice and unagi in bowl and add green onions
  • Place rice and unagi in bowl, add dashi stock, and togarashi seasoning (my favorite)
  • Place rice, unagi, green onions, dashi stock, wasabi, sansho pepper, and crumbled nori in bowl.