Unagi Don

Unagi Don

If you always order Unagi Don at Japanese restaurants, you are going to be thrilled to learn how easy it is to make at home. And how fast! Even making the eel sauce from scratch-which you must because the bottled stuff doesn’t compare, you can have this Japanese classic on the table in less than half an hour. So for those of you looking to get the most out of your time in the kitchen, this one”s for you.

unagi don ingredients

Unagi Don Sauce

This homemade soy glaze is so simple and really highlights the rich flavor of the eel. It’s sweet and tangy from the soy sauce, mirin, and sake. Sugar helps it have an almost caramelly flavor.

mirin unagi don

Simmer the sauce until it is reduced to a thick, syrupy glaze.

sauce unagi don


Unagi is freshwater eel. It has the highest amount of Omega 3’s of all seafood as it’s packed with protein, and is a rich source of Vitamins A and D. It is so popular in Japan that there are entire restaurants dedicated to it. And prepping and cooking it perfectly requires so much skill that there are specialized eel chefs.

Luckily for us, almost all of the unagi sold in this country has already been filleted and cooked. Typically found frozen in most Asian grocery stores, the unagi fillets defrost quickly, and just need a quick pass under the broiler. The best quality ones are quite pricey, which is why it’s typically a special occasion treat in Japan and not an every day food item. This is about as luxurious as instant food gets. Keep an unagi fillet in the freezer and you will have a most special meal ready at any time.

Once you cut the unagi into generously sized pieces, it’s time to broil it. First, I line a baking sheet with foil to make cleanup a breeze. Next, lightly spray the foil with oil.

foil unagi don

broil unagi don

Perfectly steamed rice is an essential part of the Unagi Don experience and just as important as the eel. It soaks up the delicious sauce and turns it into a complete meal. Make sure you start the rice ahead of time so that it’s ready for you when you are done broiling the unagi. Drizzle the rice with some sauce and then lay the unagi fillets on top.

rice unagi don

fillets unagi don

I like to garnish with a spoonful of beni shoga, not only for its pop of bright red color but also for its bracing flavor that cuts through the rich unagi and eel sauce. It’s also common to sprinkle a little sansho powder, which is a type of Japanese peppercorn.

beni shoga unagi don

Unagi Don is a perfect weeknight meal. It packs a nutritional punch and now that you know how easy it is, there’s no reason to only enjoy it while dining out. Let me know what you think about this recipe by rating it and leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen; we love hearing from you!

beauty unagi don



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unagi don recipe card

Unagi Don

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 3
  • Category: bowls
  • Cuisine: Japanese


  • 2 unagi Fillets (approximately 10-12 ounces)
  • Oil Spray
  • 4 cups steamed rice
  • Sansho pepper powder, optional
  • Red beni shoga (pickled red ginger), optional

Soy Glaze:

  • ¼ cup Soy sauce
  • ¼ cups Mirin
  • 2 Tablespoons sake
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar


Make the sauce:

  1. Put the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a small saucepan and stir to combine.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, stir once more and cook for 10-12 minutes until the sauce is reduced to a syrupy consistency.
  3. You will yield about ⅓ cup of sauce. 

For the Unagi:

  1. Preheat the oven with the broiler setting and move the oven shelf to the second from the top. 
  2. Line a baking tray with aluminum. Spray lightly with oil. Cut the eel fillets in half lengthwise and then into 3 pieces to yield 6 pieces total. 
  3. Place the eel on the tray skin side down. Broil the eel for 4-5 minutes and then brush with the sauce. 
  4. Broil for 1 more minute.
  5. Divide the rice into 3 large bowls. Drizzle a tablespoon of soy glaze over each rice bowl. Top with the eel and a little more sauce. 
  6. Sprinkle the eel with the sansho powder and garnish with a little red ginger, if using, and serve immediately.

Keywords: unagi don, rice bowl, eel sauce, japanese

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