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Monday, May 7, 2012

Una-Tama Don: Egg Eel Donburi

I always tell people if they want to try more adventurous sushi than California rolls, they should try unagi, or freshwater eel. I do this not only because their look of terror is priceless, but because I think it is a very accessible and traditional Japanese meat.  I will explain why I think so, just like I do to the novices to calm them down:

First off, unagi is always cooked. I have no qualms about eating raw fish, but I know this is a big one for beginners. They think all sushi is raw and wriggling.  Second off, it is usually barbequed in a teriyaki style sauce, and served warm. Third, it has a soft and pleasant tenderness to the meat, juicy and never weird or rubbery, unlike tako (octopus).
It is also one of the easiest sushi fish to work with at home. You get it frozen, already basted with sweet sauce, so it keeps well and you don't have to use it right away. And unlike a primo piece of toro (tuna), it is pretty inexpensive. You feeling like having some Japanese home cooking? Just defrost that puppy, heat it up and serve over rice. Tada, you have unagi donburi, or una-don.

Here's my favorite way of dishing up unagi: Una-tama don, or egg eel bowl. Donburi (shorted to -don here) is the name of the heavy bowls theses are usually served in. Donburi is a savory topping put over rice, similar to Flame Broiler here in America. The chain Yoshinoya serves donburi. I love donburi because it is healthy fast food.

Una-Tama Don

2-4 cups of hot cooked rice (depending on your appetite)
1 fillet of broiled unagi
1/2 of yellow onion, sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten until homogenous
1 cup of dashi
1 tbs shoyu
1 tbs mirin
2 tsp sugar

Cut the eel into bite sized pieces. Pour the dashi, soy, mirin, and sugar into a pan and bring to a boil. Put in the onions and cook until translucent. Add in the unagi and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour in the eggs around the eel and onion, do not stir. When the egg is half set, pour mixture over rice and serve.

Here's a picture of my brother in LA's Little Tokyo, where his plate of "Big Unagi Rolls" had arrived. Literally, they put a whole unagi fillet on a little nugget of rice. Two of them! It was comically big.



  1. nice, thanks for the recipie. that unagi looks great

  2. How much water are we suppose to put in?

    1. There's no water in the recipe, unless perhaps you are talking about cooking the rice or the dashi stock? Sorry I can't help you there.

    2. Or perhaps you are trying to use powdered dashi, and you're wondering how much water to put in with the powdered dashi? Use 1/2 tsp dashi granules and one cup of waster to substitute for the 1 cup of dashi.

      Really curious as to what water you're talking about!

    3. The Dashi stock, I am learning how to cook and this is my second week in so when I saw one cup of dashi I was really confused if there was anything else that was supposed to be added in, but thank you for clearing that up for me. I will make sure I do it like that next time!

    4. Ah that clears things up! Yeah if you click on "dashi" within the recipe, it shows you how to make dashi.