Eel: The Nutritious Unagi

Written by on December 19th, 2017 // Filed under Blog

Rejuvenation, Vitality, and More

Unagi is the Japanese word for freshwater eel. The freshwater eels and other marine eels are commonly used in Japanese cuisine. Anago is another eel variety and this one is the saltwater type. Unagi in particular is prized for its soft, fatty meat and bold, rich taste. Unagi is cultivated mainly during May to October, and is generally regarded amongst Japanese as being a summer food, as its high content of vitamins and minerals is believed to provide the energy necessary to “beat summer fatigue.”

Japanese eels are always eaten cooked. They often come served with other dishes that have light, subtle flavors to balance the richness of the eel meat. Ground sansho pepper, a native pepper to Japan with a strong herbal flavor, is a popular condiment to serve with eel, as it cuts through the fatty flavor of the eel. Unagi can be eaten at tempura, kaiseki or sushi restaurants, or at specialty restaurants known as unagiya.

Eels are popular delicacies in other cultures, like in the US, Europe, New Zealand, China and Korea. Distinctively strong flavor, oil-rich and very meaty, they offer great nutritional value and, hence, so loved in Japan. Claims that eels provide stamina, body rejuvenation (particularly in the summer), vitality and energy (especially in the elderly), are popular in Japan and parts of Europe. The fish has amazing nutritional values from which these claims come from.

Eel has zero sugar, is low in sodium and high in potassium phosphorus. They contain no carbohydrates, but have 18 amino acids. It is especially rich in vitamins A and B12, but also in B1, B2, D and E. It decreases cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of developing arthritis. Its high content of omega 3 fatty acids delays or reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, studies have shown. Eel also was shown to reduce cardiovascular risk factors, one of them high triglyceride levels. Studies show eel’s benefit in promoting good eyesight and helping against some skin conditions like eczema. Lastly, eels are also proving beneficial in normal brain development and nervous system function.

The fatty fish is good for those who watch their calories. Though eels have abundant vitamin and mineral content, its cholesterol component of just 254 mg per 200 gram serving is a concern.

Enjoying Healthy Unagi

K-Ton’s Eel Bowl is one of our popular delicacies here in Federal Way. Eat delicious and eat hearty when you dine on unagi.