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Eel, One Of The Sushi Ingredients: Anago & Unagi

Japanese food lovers must be familiar with sushi. But do you know that there is more than one type of eel that is used to make sushi?

Anyway, what does eel sushi look like? There are 2 types of eels, Anago is a seawater eel. The texture of the meat is like fish (I say this for me to compare it to unagi which is more tender) and does have a salty taste and there is still a fishy fish smell (fresh, not rotten fish). In serving, usually after being skinned and bone removed, anago is cooked with a sugary sauce. Or eaten with a sweet Japanese soy sauce. Unlike the unagi, anago is rarer to find and it is rarely known that anyone does aquaculture and breeds this eel because the average is obtained from the catch of fishermen. This eel matures at 4-5 years of the total estimated life from the egg stage. This is the reason why anago is hard to find.

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Unagi is a freshwater eel. The meat is tender and chewy, and fatty. It takes special skills to process unagi from removing the bones, and grilling it with sauce, to serving it. Maybe this is what makes the price of unagi high apart from the size selection (because for unagi, a large eel is chosen with a lot of meat), and its availability is getting less and less. In the presentation, unagi can be served grilled without sauce, although most of what is sold in restaurants is unagi kabayaki, which is unagi baked with a Japanese sweet sauce.

For some people, it may be difficult to like eel because of its sticky nature. Fortunately, the Japanese can make it delicious as they do with other dishes. There are several ways to eat this eel, a popular one that most people might like is grilled with sauce on a skewer. Eel surprises you with its taste and texture that is tingling and melts in your mouth. Another common way for Westerners to try unagi is through sushi. The Japanese even eat eel bones in a dish called Asah Senbei. Using the long backbone of unagi, you make something crunchy, light, and salty. They also eat eel liver which is grilled in a dish called kimoyaki or in a soup form called kimosui.