Kabayaki, or “cattail-searing,” is an ancient method of preparing eels in Japan. The name derives from the resemblance of a skewered, soy-glazed fillet of eel to a cattail growing in a marsh. Today, many Japanese make a home version of kabayaki with the more easily accessible and less costly mackerel. Most urban Japanese kitchens are equipped with a small but powerful broiling unit, and many people will grill directly over a gas fire. This method produces a fair amount of smoke, which the Japanese have come to expect and tend to ignore. When I tried making kabayaki- style mackerel in the traditional manner in my New York apartment, my neighbors were ready to call the fire department. Wanting to savor this flavorful fish dish more than just once a year at an outdoor barbecue, I adapted the method to what I call “city-style” grilling, using a skillet.
© 1988 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.