Thursday, January 7, 2010

Squ-EEL-ing Good Dinner

Most people hear the word "eel" and get scared.  I think dinner.  Perhaps people's first experience with eel is at sushi restaurants?  They see eel mentioned on a sushi menu and they immediately picture a slippery, slimy thing that squirms and swims around in deep, dark, scary water!  People who think that are partially correct - it does swim in water - but in the simplest terms an eel is just a fish.  In fact, all eel served in sushi restaurants is cooked (which means it is not raw, for those just starting out) so you can ignore any fears you have about raw fish.

Maybe you decide you don't care if it's cooked or not, you just don't want it... you'll have some "other" fish.  That's fine, but realize that eel is a nice, firm fleshed white fish with good flavor.  That flavor is enhanced even further when you pour or brush kabayaki sauce (also known as eel sauce) all over it and heat it up.  The dark, sweet & salty kabayaki sauce is what makes the eel look brown and glossy, just like in the picture above.  Kabayaki sauce is kind of like an Asian BBQ sauce: soy sauce, some sugar, sweet rice wine (mirin) and that's about it.  It would be great on salmon or even chicken too, just pick up a bottle next time you're at an Asian grocery store.  After all, most people like soy sauce, lots more people like sugar, and then you throw in some rice wine to top things off.  It's quite tasty.

So eel over rice was our dinner last night.  I simply pulled the pre-cooked, pre-sauced eel out of their vacuum packaging and broiled them in our oven for about 3 or 4 minutes per side.  Served over rice with some sauteed shiitake mushrooms, radish sprouts, and green onions, it was quite nice.  Try it next time you're out at a sushi restaurant.