Eel (Unagi): Better than any energy drink for summertime lethargy?Technically, it's anguilla japonica, but what you need to know is that unagi is cooked Japanese freshwater eel. Unagi specialty restaurants are common in Japan, especially around Hamanako Lake in the Shizuoka prefecture, which is supposed to have the highest quality unagi. The Hamanako region has a whole culture surrounding unagi.
Unagi is so popular because it is healthy and tastes good. A nice grilled eel is dripping with vitamin A and protein, effective restoratives. In Japanese, the word "natsubate" describes the loss of energy and appetite many people develop during the hot days of summer. Eating unagi counteracts natsubate, giving you energy and stamina. It is customary to eat an eel on the hottest day of the year, usually in late July, which is called "Doyo no ushi no hi." If you survive this day, it's all downhill after that. (the date for "doyo no ushi no hi" varies year by year.)
Ironically, autumn is the best time for eating eel, not July. Eels are at their largest and most tender right before spawning, which occurs in September. Be sure to mark your calenders, you won't want to miss it. Don't worry if you miss the season though: You can find delicious unagi all year round in Japan.
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KabayakiKabayaki is the most popular cooking style for unagi. For preparation, cut off the head and tail; slice open along the top. Then, dip the unagi in a special sweet sauce and grill over charcoal. The details of the kabayaki cooking style vary depending on the region. In Kanto (which includes Tokyo), unagi is steamed before it is grilled. In Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto etc.), the eel is sliced along the stomach, not the top. In samurai times, unagi was served at food stalls, skewered in cross-sections after being dipped in special sauce. Lower class laborers loved unagi for its fatty flesh and it was known as working class cuisine. As the cooking style changed to kabayaki charcoal style, unagi became a favorite meal for people of all classes.
Unaju-u& UnadonUnadon is kabayaki style unagi over a rice bowl.
Unadon is called unaju-u when it is served in a traditional black box (Ju-u Bako). Believe it or not, unaju-u is more expensive than unadon, just because of this expensive black box.
Eal (Unagi) FYI >>Find Eel Restaurants
It's pretty heavy isn't it?Japanese women tend to avoid eating unagi because of its mistaken reputation for high caloric content. Actually, comparing with other Donburi dishes, such as katsudon (Pork cutlet, 900kcal on average) and tendon (Tempura, 750kcal), unadon (650 kcal) is not that bad Japanese people believe that unagi will make you healthier and more beautiful. Unagi is high in unsaturated fatty acid. unsaturated fatty acid helps lower bad cholesterol and also improves your memory. Furthermore, the collagen in unagi helps develop healthy skin. The subtle Japanese pepper in unagi sauce aids digestion.
What's the factors of price difference?Farmed or natural unagi
Like everything else, natural unagi has a better taste than farmed unagi. However, natural unagi is extremely rare in Japan. Only 0.3% - 1% of unagi sold in Japan comes from rivers. It is said that natural has a perfect fat content. If you're lucky enough, you might have a chance to have natural eel - keep your eyes open. But, don't worry, cultivated unagi is delicious too.
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