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Unagi Kabayaki

A recipe hailing from Japan, Unagi Kabayaki is a preparation of freshwater eel with rich history. Traditionally, sushi masters and and chefs spend years if not decades perfecting Unagi Kabayaki techniques as part of their craft. “Unagi,” the Japanese word for freshwater eel, is butterflied out in this recipe, then repeatedly dipped into an umami rich Unagi sauce before cooking over an open flame. Being eel lover’s here at American Unagi, we decided to try our hand at making an accessible version of Unagi Kabayaki that one would be able to make at home. At the end of this blog post will be some videos we enjoyed of Unagi Kabayaki being prepared traditionally as well. Thank you and enjoy!


  • 1/2 cup Mirin
  • 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1.5 oz Sake
  • 1/2 cup Rice Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar


  1. Combine ingredients for the unagi sauce and then boil to reduce. The sauce should be viscous by the time it cools. Stir constantly to avoid boil over. This process should take about 5 minutes on medium high. Once sauce is prepared, set aside.
  2. Slice eel fillets in to 4 inch pieces, then cover on both sides either using a brush to apply the unagi sauce.
  3. Broil on high (around 500˚F), removing eels regularly to flip and reapply Unagi sauce. The sauce will bubble and caramelize quickly, indicating that the Kabayaki is ready for another coat of Unagi sauce. Repeat this step around six times, finishing by letting the edges crisp.
  4. Either use immediately or refrigerate for later. You can always reheat Kabayaki later by cooking it skin down in a pan on gentle heat, with a touch of oil.

A rice bowl is just one great way of using Unagi Kabayaki!