Japanese Barbecued Eel (Unagi Kabayaki) Recipe

Serves/Makes: 2 - 4


  • 10 ounces cooked and prepared eel or 1 pound fresh eel fillets
  • Ready-made young pickled ginger shoots, to serve
  • Sansho* powder, to serve
  • Seafood Glazing Sauce (see below)
How to cook Japanese Barbecued Eel (Unagi Kabayaki):
  • Prepare the Seafood Glazing Sauce and set aside.
  • Thread 2 or 3 long skewers through the prepared or fresh eel so that it keeps its shape while cooking. Place the skewered eel on a hot charcoal grill under a broiler, meat side facing the heat. Grill for 3 minutes and turn so that the skin faces the heat. Grill for another 3 minutes.
  • Brush the eel with the prepared Glazing Sauce and grill each side for a little over 1 minute. Repeat several times, about 1 minute on each side, basting with the glaze each time.
  • Place the cooked eel on a cutting board. Twist the skewers and pull them out gently. Slice the eel into 4-inch pieces and arrange on a platter.
  • Serve the Barbecued Eel hot with the pickled ginger shoots and sprinkle with the sansho powder.

Seafood Glazing Sauce Recipe

Seafood Glazing Sauce Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup fish stock
How to cook Seafood Glazing Sauce:
  • To prepare the Seafood Glazing Sauce, place all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low, skim the surface and continue simmering until the sauce has reduced by half.


Kabayaki is a generic Japanese term for a dish of seafood which is filleted, boned and dipped in a sweet soy sauce-base sauce before broiled on a grill. In general, kabayaki refers to the dish made with unagi (eel). Kabayaki unagi is very popular as a nutritious, stamina-generating food.


*Sansho is known in Chinese as huajiao (literally "flower pepper") a lesser-used name is shanjiao (literally "mountain pepper" not to be confused with Tasmanian mountain pepper). In Japanese, it is sansho, using the same Chinese characters as shanjiao. In Tibetan, it is known as g.yer ma. In America, it is sold as fagara or flower pepper as well as Sichuan pepper. Sichuan pepper has a unique aroma and flavor that is not hot or pungent like black or white pepper, or chili peppers, but has slight lemony overtones and creates in the mouth a kind of tingly numbness (caused by its 3% of hydroxy-alpha-sanshool) that sets the stage for these hot spices.

This recipe for Japanese Barbecued Eel (Unagi Kabayaki) serves/makes: 2 - 4

The Japanese Barbecued Eel (Unagi Kabayaki) recipe and the pictures are adopted from The Our Favorite Fish & Seafood Recipes Cookbook.

Main Ingredient: Eel (more Eel recipes)
Preparation Method: Barbecue (more Barbecue recipes)
Cuisine: Japanese (more Japanese recipes)

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