Unagi is a common summertime treat in Japan. And thanks to a wealth of Indianapolis sushi restaurants, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t become a common summertime treat in the Hoosier State. Plenty of Japanese restaurants in Indianapolis use unagi as the focal point in fresh maki rolls, donburi bowls, and nigiri.
But before you venture away from those california rolls, check out our guide to unagi so you know exactly what’s between your chopsticks. Impress your tablemates with your seafood savvy with the answers to these three simple questions:
What is unagi? Twisted together in tanks, their bodies shining in silvery tangles, unagi—freshwater eels—are about as pliable as sea creatures get. Unagi refers not to a specific species but rather to freshwater eel in general.
Why is it so popular in the summer?
In Japan, it’s consumed heavily in the summer—when eels grow fat and meaty, perfect for cooking with unagi sauce—and in particularly massive volumes on the Day of the Ox. The exact provenance of that tradition is unclear, but for several hundred years, Japanese chefs have been overwhelmed by demand on the midsummer holiday.
Are the eels only prepared as sushi?
In Japan, the freshwater eel is prized for its sweet, earthy flavor and bounty of B vitamins. But it’s also popular due to its flexibility: cooks pull them from the water to grill over charcoal, batter and fry for tempura, steam, or roll into sushi.
Ready to take the plunge with unagi? Try these dishes at three local Indianapolis restaurants:
Unagi donburi at One World Market | 8466 Castleton Corner Dr.Rock 'n' Roll maki at Sakura Japanese Restaurant | 7201 N. Keystone Ave.Unagi nigiri at Hana Fusion Sushi & Grill | 6905 S. Emerson Ave.