What Eel Is Used In Sushi?
Unagi Also called unagi, freshwater eel is a very common type of fish used in sushi rolls.
Which species of eel is used for sushi?
Unagi vs. anago – July 20, 2016 My favorite dining-out story goes as follows: I recommend an omakase-only sushi restaurant in New York City for dinner to a friend and his girlfriend. The two dine there and enjoy it immensely, with one notable exception.
Shortly thereafter, my friend exclaims to me with equal parts excitement and shock, “Dude, they served us seal!” “Anne was hesitant to consume it, so I ate her portion,” he continues. I had never encountered seal on a sushi menu in all my years of eating sushi. Is it legal to consume seal? Confusion galore.
There must be a problem here. After a call to the chef and several chuckles, we have the answer. The adorable, fin-footed, zoo-favorite mammal was not, as suspected, consumed by the couple. The component responsible for the error? Anago, or “sea eel” as it is commonly known in English.
Laugh it up. My friend’s humorous error reveals a widespread unfamiliarity with “another” type of eel. In Japanese cuisine, two types of eel are prepared: unagi (freshwater eel) and anago (seawater eel). The former is what the vast majority of people immediately associate with “eel”; it can be found in virtually all sushi restaurants.
However, it should not be confused with its counterpart in seawater; there are numerous distinctions. The differences between the two eel species are centered on flavor and texture. “Unagi is always richer and fattier than anago,” says Masashi Ito, chef and proprietor of the popular New York City sushi restaurant Sushi Zo.
Chef Isao Yamada of the city’s renowned restaurant Brushstroke agrees: “Anago tends to be leaner, but it’s very fluffy.” “Compared to rich unagi, anago can be bland, but it has a delicate and light flavor,” he says. Yamada describes unagi as having dark gray, nearly black-colored skin, whereas anago is brownish with white spots on its side and under its dorsal fin.
Unagi’s tails are similarly rounded, whereas anago’s are pointed. Both chefs are quick to point out that while anago spends its entire life in the ocean, unagi lays its eggs in the ocean and its young migrate to rivers and streams to mature. Brushstroke’s hitsumabushi is grilled unagi served over rice with shiso leaves and a pot of tea or dashi.
Due to the fact that the two species differ in flavor, there are numerous preparation methods. Ito states that unagi is typically served with a bowl of steamed rice. Yamada notes that unagi is typically prepared by grilling, whereas anago is typically prepared by simmering. Common unagi preparations include kaba-yaki (grilled with sweet soy sauce) and shiro-yaki (grilled with salt and served with wasabi).
According to Yamada, in addition to containing twice as much fat as anago, unagi is richer in vitamin A, B1, B2, D, E, and calcium. Costs are comparable, though restaurants may pay slightly more for unagi (which is increasingly purchased from farms). Got it? Remember that there may be more to eel than meets the eye, and be mindful of the type you’re served on your next Japanese dining adventure.
What They Appear Like – Let’s begin with the internal and external characteristics that distinguish these two, and more importantly, how the human eye can recognize the primary distinctions. I The eel is a type of fish. More than 800 species are currently classified under the order Anguilliformes, including worm eels (family Moringuidae), garden eels (family Congridae), cutthroat eels (family Synaphobranchidae), and, of course, the more Disney-friendly moray eels (family Muraenidae ).
- Since they are fish, they have gills and spend their entire lives in the water.
- Their single, continuous fin extends along the dorsal, anal, and caudal sides.
- Eels have elongated bodies and pointed, snout-like heads with razor-sharp teeth.
- Although their teeth are not poisonous, the scientific community suspects that moray eels produce a toxic slimy coating that increases the risk of infection for those who come into contact with them.
Therefore, if you experience an accidental eel bite, it would be in your best interest to locate a physician and antibiotics. Eels can range in length from four inches to twelve feet and are typically a muddy gray or brown color, but in more tropical regions they can have vibrant colors and patterns.
- I And prior to discussing the appearance of sea snakes, we should clarify something about electric eels.
- Electric eels (Electrophorus electricus) belong to the knifefish family (Gymnotidae) and are more closely related to catfish and carp than to other eels.
- Although they resemble true eels in size and appearance, their ability to emit an electrical charge when they feel threatened or when preparing their next meal places them in a category of their own, similar to the vampire squid ( Vampyroteuthis infernalis ).
The power they generate is approximately five times that of a standard wall socket, and its effects can last for up to eight hours after their demise. They inhabit the mucky bottoms of rivers and the occasional marsh. I Now, let’s discuss the appearance of a sea snake! Sea snakes belong to the order Squamata and the family Hydrophiidae.
Unlike eels, sea snakes are limited to between 30 and 50 species. The primary distinction between sea snakes and eels is their paddle-shaped, water-propulsion-enhancing tails. They must resurface for air because they have lungs, but they can hold their breath for hours due to cutaneous respiration, a process in which they breathe oxygen through their skin.
They are so proficient at preparing for deep food dives that they can even plug their nostrils. Their poisonous fangs make them one of the most lethal snakes, four times deadlier than the cobra. However, sea snakes are mild-mannered and will only bite if they feel threatened.
How come eel is never served raw?
What is the Situation with Eel? Freshwater eel, also known as unagi, is a common type of fish used in rolls. However, they are not ordinary fish. In fact, eels are so unique and difficult to properly prepare that eel chefs are a distinct profession from sushi chefs.
- If you are an avid eel eater or are planning to try it soon, there are a few things you should know before you dig in.
- Eel Facts As a result of overfishing, eel populations are threatened, and experts advise consumers to refrain from consuming them.
- However, many sushi restaurants and steakhouses still serve eel.
Other essential unagi facts include: In Japan, eel is so popular that it has a designated day for consumption: the midsummer day of the Ox (between mid-July and August). It is consumed by the Japanese during the warmer months because it is high in vitamins and is believed to increase stamina.
Always prepare eel by grilling and steaming it. Most sushi chefs avoid cooking eel because, if not prepared properly, the flavor becomes unpleasant and the texture becomes coarse. When consumed uncooked, eel blood can be toxic. The unagi sushi version is known as unakyu. Although the majority of eels originate from eel farms, they are not produced in captivity.
Instead, they are captured as juveniles and raised on an eel farm until they are mature enough for consumption. Typically, eel sushi rolls are served with a brown sauce comprised of eel, sake, sugar, and soy sauce. Shogun-Style Shogun Japanese Steakhouse is the place to go if you’re dying to try eel prepared by a professional chef.
Why do Koreans eat eels?
Between the Sea and the River is a book written by Pungcheon Jangeo-gui. Pungcheon jangeo, also known as baem-jangeo, is a provincial specialty of Jeollabuk-do Province. The Incheongang River empties into a large body of water in the county of Gochang-gun, which is surrounded by rocks sculpted by waves and winds.
- This region is home to eels of the highest quality, which swim thousands of kilometers between the sea and the river.
- As the ultimate health food that nourishes the body and restores energy, these scaly creatures are in high demand.
- The texture of Jangeo distinguishes it from other fish dishes.
- Oreans consider jangeo (eel) to be the best energy-boosting food.
These snake-like creatures have exceptional physical endurance, allowing them to swim for thousands of kilometers without food. As a result, they are believed to be a source of vigor. Pungcheon jangeo is a baem-jangeo, whereas eels typically fall into four categories based on their habitat.
As pung means “wind” and cheon means “river” in Korean, the name pungcheon refers to the windy region surrounding the mouth of the Incheongang River, where freshwater meets the sea and pungcheon jangeo is typically caught. Its length of up to 10 kilometers makes it the ideal environment for eels to adapt to salt water before returning to the ocean to lay their eggs.
Baem-jangeo live in freshwater for 5 to 12 years and migrate to the ocean between August and October to spawn. Swimming along the warm currents to reach the Pacific Ocean is an arduous endeavor that requires stamina. Once they reach their destination in the Pacific’s deep waters, they commit to their mission and take their own lives.
A Japanese Treat – On a specific summer day each year, the Japanese consume unagi or eel to combat the notorious heat. The occasion is Eel Day, or Doyo-ushinohi. The Japanese have considered eels a nutritious and energizing food since ancient times. Today, eel is regarded as a delicacy, and artisanal eel restaurants can be found across the nation.
In fact, in good eel restaurants, guests must wait over an hour for their eel because the chef begins preparing the live eels only after receiving the order. Guests patiently wait during the preparation period, inhaling the enticing aromas of the broiled eel cooking in the kitchen. The most popular preparation of eel is kabayaki.
To prepare kabayaki, an eel is cut open from the belly (in Osaka) or the back (in Tokyo), butterflied, cut into rectangular fillets, threaded onto skewers, and dipped in a special soy sauce-based sauce before being grilled over charcoal. The sauce is frequently prepared according to a restaurant’s secret recipe and is an essential flavor enhancer.
Can you eat Japanese eel?
Tradition dictates that on Midsummer Day, one must consume unagi. In Japan, unagi (freshwater eel) is considered an expensive delicacy and is not a common dish.26.2% of people consume unagi “about once every six months,” followed by 16.8% who consume it “once every two to three months,” 16.1% who consume it “less than once a year,” and 15.5% who consume it “once a year.” When do most individuals consume unagi? Before midsummer, large banners and carts of eel packages will be displayed in supermarkets.