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What’s the Deal with Eel?

Also called unagi, freshwater eel is a very common type of fish used in sushi rolls. However, they aren’t just any old fish. In fact, eels are so special and difficult to cook properly that eel chefs are a completely separated profession from sushi chefs. If you are an avid eel consumer or looking to try it in the near future, here are some things you should know before you dig in.

Eel Facts

Eels are on the sustainable seafood advisory list, meaning experts recommend consumers do not partake in them since their populations are under pressure from overfishing. However, eel is still offered in many sushi restaurants and steakhouses. Other important facts on unagi include:

  • Eel is so popular in Japan, they have a special day for eating it; the midsummer day of the Ox (between mid-July and August). The Japanese eat it during the hotter months because it is rich in vitamins and thought to increase stamina.
  • Eel is always prepared grilled and steamed.
  • Most sushi chefs don’t attempt to cook eel because if not done properly, the flavors become unpleasant, and the texture is rough.
  • If consumed raw, the blood of eels can be toxic.
  • The sushi version of unagi is called unakyu.
  • Although most eels come from eel farms, they are not bred in captivity. Instead, they are captured when they are young and raised on an eel farm until they are old enough to be eaten.
  • Eel sushi rolls are often served with brown ‘eel sauce’ made from eel, sake, sugar, and soy sauce.


If you’re dying to try professionally-cooked eel, Shogun Japanese Steakhouse is the place for you. Teppanyaki-style cooking right at your table makes Shogun the perfect place for your next event, party, or anniversary. To check availability or reserve your table, call us today at 407-352-1607.