Japanese food is becoming very popular in various parts of the world. You do not need to visit Tokyo, or any other Japanese cities to taste Japanese delicacies. Most of them are served in restaurants all over the world. One of the most popular delicacies is the maki sushi rolls or the ‘makizushi’ in Japanese, such as eel. But what is Eel? What does Eel taste like?
This is a smart choice in any restaurant because of the great nutritional and health benefits. It tastes very good and many people now demand it. Because of the rush in the demand that some interested individuals moved to the UN asking the global body to safeguard the species.
There are different variations of eels in the market. These include the unagi, which is the freshwater eels also known locally as the unagi and the marine eels called anago or the conger eel. If you visit any popular Japanese cuisines, you observe that these are widely served. Even though it is expensive. It is not only in Japan they are widely consumed; this delicacy is popular in China too.
It is also consumed in other southeast Asian countries like Korea. Because of its popularity, this meal is expensive. Its popularity across Asia is because of the belief people have over this food. They assume that it is a great source of stamina for men. Before the Second World War, the consumption was high and it is now declining in some European countries but that does not mean that they will stop consuming such foods.
What is an eel?
Eel is not a snake, but it is one of the elongated and snakelike marines. They are found in freshwater and other kinds of water. It belongs to a category known as Apodes since they do not have ventral fins. It is actually a fish even if it doesn’t look like the conventional fish since it does not have pectoral and pelvic fins like other fish out there.
It is popular and widely consumed in Japan and other neighboring countries. This delicacy is exported in other parts of the world and you can order them in any of the popular Japanese restaurants in any part of the world.
The most popular version in Japan and other parts of this world is Unagi which is the freshwater eel. More than 70% consumption of this species is done in Japan alone.
The length could range from anything 5 centimeters to 4 meters. The weight also varies starting from 30 grams to more than 25kgs. There are different species of this fish in the water and you can tell the differences between these species from their fins.
One thing common with them is that they do not have pelvic fins but some species do not feature pectoral fins while some feature. The caudal also includes anal and dorsal. It is also regarded as the tail fin.
Where is Eel found?
You can find them in the oceans. Not the deep oceans but in the deep shallow water of the ocean. Most of the species are known to be nocturnal which means that they are more active in the night hours. One can find a large number of them in the eel pits or holes.
You can still get some species in the deeper water such as the continental shelves as well as deep slopes. Those around in the freshwater belong to a family known as Anguillidae. When it is time for them to breed, they get back to the deep water. Such water is more supportive of their breeding.
There are debates in some quarters as to whether it is safe to eat eel because of the blood which is poisonous to humans and other living animals. There is no fear about that because you have to cook it very well to destroy those things that make it unsafe to eat. It is therefore safe to eat. One of the toxins derived from it is used in the manufacture of the award-winning drugs used to cure sicknesses.
What does Eel taste like?
The most popular type of eel commonly consumed is the Unagi and this is the freshwater eel. This is different from the saltwater eel. Unagi is very popular in Japan because it forms the best ingredient in Japanese delicacies. Both the freshwater and saltwater eel can be consumed but before you eat them you must cook them very well to destroy the toxins in the blood that can be poisonous.
To prepare it there are different ways of doing that and it is filleted as well as grilled and even brushed using sweet soy reduction before being sliced into different pieces. It can be served as nigiri or rare balls and it depends on how you want to consume it. For the freshwater species, it can either be simmered or sushi or it can be deeply fried to form what is known as tempura.
After preparing the eel, especially the unagi you discover it is very delicious. It is not surprising it forms the most important Japanese ingredients.
It tastes sweet such as firm-fleshed white fish. It can taste bass. Before you eat this fish, it is recommended that you cook it very well. When you taste it, you will discover that it is fluffy, soft, and flaky. Most importantly, it tastes pleasant. It is not associated with any of the fishy after tastes. It has a very specific taste. Imagine chicken and fish combined like taste and there you have the Eel taste.
What health benefits does Eel provide?
1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Eel is highly delicious and it is very rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Some people confirm that it can serve as a sugary brown sauce which can add more calories and is not nutritious. If you want to get the least of calories there are certain options available for you such as choosing yellowtail, tuna or salmon rolls, and other eels’ components.
2. Protein source
One of the features that make it great is the protein component. As said before it contains long chains of amino acids. This has lots of functions for the user and comes with lots of health benefits.
It can be very harmful when you eat it uncooked or poorly cooked. If you cook it very well, then there is absolutely nothing to worry about, especially your health. From the toxins, Charles Robert Richet made a very critical discovery. The Parisian doctor discovered that it can help cure some ailments.
3. Rich with vitamins and minerals
We are all worried if the food we intake has vitamins to boost our body health. Well you don’t have to worry a second about that when consuming Eel. This delicacy contains a wide range of vitamins including vitamin D, A, E, B12, B1, B2 as well as all sorts of minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and manganese. All of them are working together to protect and boost your health in a way rarely which food can.
4. Boosts your Immune System
If you take it, you can develop resistance to certain diseases like cholera. It can achieve that when you are inoculated with it. This provides you the ability to withstand certain diseases. This is because it is going to motivate your immune system.
5. Great choice when you are on a diet
If you want to lose weight, you can also choose the delicacy. As you can see from the information above, apart from being nutritious, you discover that this can add calories. It is highly nutritious and you know the importance of protein to the body. This food does not contain much oil and it is not associated with carbs. It offers lots of health benefits to its users.
How Eel Tastes Like Depends on the Way you Prepare It
The eel was considered as part of the original Edo style Sushi meal. Edo was a notable Tokyo town and here several fast foods were served right from the 19th century such as the following soba, tempura, sushi as well as unagi. Unagi is not that easy to prepare for sushi chefs. It requires a separate skill to prepare it if you want to make it delicious. You can see the difference between eel prepared by a sushi chef and those prepared by other people. The difference is obvious from the taste.
To prepare eel, it is not technically different from the other finfish. There are differences in the way it is prepared since eel is quite different from other finfish. Its preparation presents difficulties and because of that, you cannot prepare it anyhow.
The first thing you need to know that eel has difficult skin, and the fish is slippery and to prepare it, you must remove the skin as soon as you kill the fish. If you do not remove the skin it can dry and that will become extremely difficult to remove from the body when you are preparing it.
The first thing to do is to slit the skin right from the gills and circle the body. Remove the skin and to remove it, you may require a plier since it is not easy to pull the skin and remove it. Moreover, you can use a disposable paper towel as well as a glove. When the skin becomes ripped, it is easy to remove using a knife.
Moreover, remove the gut by using a small bladed and non-flexible knife and open and cut the fish head. Push all the guts to one side of it especially to the backbone. Take that gut further and remove the membrane of the backbone at the other side of it. Discard the guts when it falls.
To fillet the fish, you can do it the way you do the other fish. Now that the eel is just on one side, cut the flesh of the fish backbone behind the head. Ensure you maintain a parallel blade in the process. Do away with the fillet.
Once you are through with the fillet, the next step is to get the eel grilled on an open flame. The grilling is important because it does away with excess oil behind the skin. You can steam it further to remove all the oil and add more texture to the meat. Continue to grill in an open flame and bast it with delicious eel sauce produced from soy sauce, trimmings as well as sugar and sake like rice wine.
Delicious ways to cook Eel
If you want to prepare it the delicious way, you must ensure that you get all the necessary ingredients including those that add flavor to the meat when you are through with it. Here are some of the ingredients you require to make a delicious eel.
- One teaspoon salt
- 1 whole eel, gutted as well as clean
- 3 tablespoons oil for the eel basting
Before you start you first preheat the oven up to 375F. Clean the eel very well and ensure you remove residual blood. Make it dry and rub it with salt and put it inside a pan as well as a cast-iron skillet and drill it using oil.
Continue to roast the meat till the skin becomes crispy as well as brown. Heat until the meat becomes tender. Heat for 25 to thirty minutes. If you want to serve delicious eel, you can serve it with pepper, salt as well as lemon. Besides you can make your personal choice.
If you are looking for the best sushi and another Japanese cuisine to taste or to try out yourself, you can start with eel. Eel is not just popular in Japan; it is now an international cuisine since it is consumed in all parts of the world. It is not like other finfish; it requires a special skill before you can prepare it. You will not only enjoy the delicious meal when you serve it, it comes with other benefits most importantly the health benefits.
If you are looking for that special Japanese meal you can think of eel. So what are you waiting for?