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Unagi, or freshwater eel, is a signature dish in Japan and there's even a day specifically to eat eel. Unagi in its natural snake-like form is far from appetizing, yet when cooked and slathered with its sweet teriyaki sauce, it becomes perfection.
There are many ways to prepare unagi but the most common way to enjoy it is unadon, shortened for unagi-donburi. The cooked eel is placed on a bowl of white steamed rice and served. The preparation of unadon can vary by the region of Japan. In Kanto, east Japan, the eel is grilled, then steamed, then grilled again. The steaming eliminates excess fat. In Kansai, west Japan, the eel is just grilled and not steamed. In both ways of preparation, the eels are grilled over charcoal while slathering a sweet sauce made from soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. The Kagoshima Prefecture at the south-western tip of Japan has the highest unagi production in the country.
As mentioned before, the Japanese eat unagi throughout the year when its available, but on one specific day called
doyo no ushi no hi, the hottest day of that summer, unagi is eaten by many Japanese. This tradition is due to the unagi being a great source of vitamin B and is known to restore one's energy. The holiday was popularized when a restaurant owner asked his friend and famous inventor Hiraga Gennai for help on bringing more customers. Gennai was a famous author, painter, physician and pharmacologist who recommended the restaurant owner advertise the
u sound of unagi with doyo no ushi no hi to convince more people to eat unagi. The tradition has continued to take place to this day.
Does the sound of eating eel sound interesting to you? Try this delicious rice-bowl during your next vacation in Japan with Japan Deluxe Tours while we explore fish markets and other great locations. Your tour guide can recommend unagi restaurants for you, or have us arrange a dinner at a top-rated unagi restaurant while on vacation!
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