Eels for summer! During the height of a hot summer season, let’s eat eel rich in vitamins to give oneselves added vigor.
Currently, a Japanese food boom is bursting all over the world. The first type of food you probably associate with Japan is sushi. And in the world of sushi, one of the most popular fish is eel.
Eel is a generic term for fish that belong to the order Anguilliformes and suborder anguilloidei. Many Japanese people assume that eel is a Japanese fish as it is strongly connected to Japanese food culture through “kabayaki” (broiled eel). Actually, this fish is widely distributed in many tropical and, sub-tropical regions of the world. There are two types of eel that have existed in Japan since time immemorial. These are the Japanese eel and the giant mottled eel. The giant mottled eel has an overall length of 2m and weighs 20kg. It is not generally consumed as food. The one we regularly eat is the Japanese eel.
The European eel inhabits Europe. Its flesh is thick and tasty, containing plenty of fat. It used to be popular in Japan, but of late, as it is recognized as an endangered species it is no longer imported to Japan.
France has a regional fish stew called “Matelot” where the eel is cut into round slices and cooked with wine and bouillon. In Spain, young eels are eaten by lightly sauteing them with olive oil and garlic. In Germany and Denmark, smoked eel is enjoyed between slices of bread. In Asian countries as well, including China, Taiwan, Korea, etc., eel is prepared with a variety of cooking methods. Eel is a popular fish enjoyed by many around the world.
Eel contains a lot of DHA, which promotes brain activity. It also contains EPA, which is useful in preventing diseases associated with blood vessels and in controlling levels of cholesterol and/or triglycerides. Above all, it is a rich source of vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and E, which prevents fatigue from summer heat. A full day’s supply of vitamin A can be provided with one helping of kabayaki.
The custom of “Doyou” (canicular days) was established so that people would mark the turn of seasons. It refers to the eighteen days prior to the beginning of each of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall and winter. Eating eel on the day of the ox in midsummer has been the custom in Japan since the Bunsei era (1818 to 1830) of the Edo Period. Among the many theories about the origin of this custom is the story of Hiraga Gennai, an Edo Period (1603-1868) scholar, inventor, and writer who coined the phrase for an eel shop sign stating “today is the midsummer day of the ox,” which became the invitation for Japanese people to eat eel.
How best to prepare eel
To use a grill or a frying pan, remove the eel from the pack, place it on aluminum foil skin side down, and warm it over a low flame. To enhance the aroma, you can coat the eel with the sauce during heating. The eel is ready to eat when the savory aroma begins to emerge as the flesh turns plump.
To heat in a microwave oven, remove the eel from the pack and place it in a heat-resistant dish. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of Japanese sake or cooking sake and cover with plastic wrap before heating. The sake makes the flesh more plump. As a rule of thumb, heat for about two minutes at 500w but please watch carefully and adjust accordingly as the outcome may vary depending on the model of your microwave.
A large quantity of carefully selected, delicious eel is delivered at Nijiya Market every year. Please be sure to enjoy Nijiya specialty eel as a way to survive those hot summer days.
Nijiya specialty eel kabayaki (broiled eel)
Full-scale charcoal fire eel kabayaki with no chemical additives
This is a healthy eel dish using special sauce without any chemical additives. Nijiya’s eel kabayaki is manufactured at a designated factory in China’s Guangdong Province using the latest health maintenance system. Nijiya strictly controls the quality of the raw ingredients and the grilling technique through frequent communication with the producer.
The use of charcoal in grilling imparts a savory aroma and keeps the flesh plump and juicy. This is a kabayaki for connoisseurs. Production is entirely made to order so that only fresh eels are delivered to Nijiya Market. A safe and secure specialty product, Nijiya’s eel kabayaki is a highly recommended food for connoisseurs.
Kagoshima-made charcoal eel kabayaki
Kagoshima is currently the largest producer of eels shipped in Japan. Among their eel kabayaki products is a kabayaki grilled with a special sauce and using Binchotan charcoal. The method of slow grilling over high heat imparts a savory aroma to the eel. The surface is crispy and flavorful while the inside is plump and juicy. The special quality of Kagoshimamade charcoal eel kabayaki is experienced at first bite.