Glazed Grilled Eel

Kabayaki

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    3–4

    .

Appears in

At Home with Japanese Cooking

At Home with Japanese Cooking

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1986

  • About

In Japan, this succulent, aromatic dish is served in the summertime, since it is thought to be just the thing for reviving strength sapped by the heat. In fact, there is a special day for eel eating called Doyo No Ushi No Hi. Calculated by the lunar calendar, it comes sometime in July and is invariably the hottest day of the year. Glazed Grilled Eel tastes best when laid upon a bed of snowy white rice (pour any remaining sauce over eels and rice) and served with assorted crisp pickles. Fill out the menu with tart Red and White Salad or Eggplant Salad with Tart Sesame Dressing and a clear Egg Drop Soup.

Ingredients

  • 2 eels, filleted but not skinned (total weight about 1 pound)

Glazing sauce

  • 2–3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2–3 tablespoons saké (rice wine)
  • 2–3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sansho (Japanese fragrant pepper)

Method

Trim the fillets into 6–8 slices, each measuring about 4½–5 inches in length. Take 2 slices of the same length and arrange them skin side down next to each other on your board. Insert 2 or 3 skewers as illustrated. Repeat the skewering procedure for the remaining fillets.

Inside a steamer, stand the skewers at an angle so that the eel does not touch the sides or bottom rack of the pot. Steam the eel for 10–15 minutes (the longer time for those who prefer their eel very tender). Remove the skewers and grill or broil the eel several inches from moderately high heat until the skin and flesh begin to color (about 5–6 minutes). Remember to twirl the skewers from the start to prevent sticking.

In the meantime, combine the ingredients for the glazing sauce in a small saucepan, and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring.

With a pastry brush, paint the glazing sauce lavishly on both sides of the grilling eel. Continue to cook for 8–10 more minutes, glazing the eel with more sauce every minute or so and flipping the skewers frequently. Remove the skewers immediately (twirl the skewers as you remove them to keep the eel from falling apart) and sprinkle the flesh side with Japanese pepper.