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Unagi don (Japanese Grilled Eel Rice Bowl) sprinkled with sansho Japanese pepper featured

Unagi donburi (Japanese grilled eel rice bowl)

  • Author: Yuto Omura
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 2 portions


Learn how to prepare and cook eel for the most delicious unagi donburi (grilled eel rice bowl) complete with homemade sauce from scratch! (Serves 2 and doesn't include cooking rice. See here for how to cook Japanese rice.)


Unagi Sauce

Unagi don


Unagi Sauce

  1. Add 3 tbsp of turbinado sugar and 1 tsp dark brown sugar to a sauce pan. Place the pan on the stove and turn on the heat to medium-high.
    turbinado sugar and dark brown sugar in a pan to make unagi sauce
  2. Once the sugar starts to melt, add 5 tbsp sake and 5 tbsp mirin. Bring to boil and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    melted sugar, mirin and sake in a sauce pan to make unagi sauce
  3. Add 5 tbsp of soy sauce and turn down the heat to simmer. 
    adding soy sauce to pan to make unagi sauce
  4. Simmer until thickened slightly (about 10 minutes). Stir occasionally to prevent the sugar from burning.
    thickening unagi sauce in a saucepan
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool while preparing the eel.

Unagi don

  1. Wash the filleted eel with cold running water.
  2. Cover a chopping board with a sheet of plastic wrap and place the eel on top. Cut each eel into 2-3 pieces by pressing a sharp knife into the area you want to cut, and pushing the eel back and forth over the plastic wrap.
    eels being cut on a plastic wrap
  3. Place the eel in a frying pan with the skin side down and add 2 tbsp of sake.
    steamed unagi eels in a frying pan
  4. Turn on the heat to medium and steam for 5 minutes with the lid on.
    steaming eels in a frying pan
  5. Remove it from the heat and line the grill with aluminium foil. Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5 minutes.
  6. Place the eel on the foil with the skin side down and grill for 6 minutes. 
    grilling unagi eel on a home grill
  7. Turn the eel over and grill the skin side for 5 minutes.
    flipping unagi eels over on a grill
  8. Apply the sauce generously but evenly over the skin and grill for 30 seconds.
    Applying unagi sauce on eels on skin side
  9. Turn the eel over and apply the sauce on the meat side and grill for 30 seconds.
    applying unagi sauce on meat side on a grill
  10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 twice more (3 times on each side in total). 
  11. Dish up the rice and brush the surface with the leftover sauce.
    applying unagi sauce on unadon rice
  12. Place the eel on top and sprinkle with sansho pepper.
    sprinkling sansho for unagi don
  13. Enjoy!
    Unagi don (Japanese Grilled Eel Rice Bowl) sprinkled with sansho Japanese pepper held with wooden chopsticks
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: Japanese

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