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Japanese BBQ Eel

How to make Japanese BBQ Eel

Chef Britt celebrates her birthday by firing up the Kamado Joe Classic II for one of her favorite dishes: Japanese BBQ Eel! Also known as Kabayaki, or Unadon, it’s a simple, sweet, grilled fish dish served over rice.

Japanese BBQ Eel Recipe


  • 2 packages of eel filets (fresh, frozen, or broiled/pre-marinated)
  • 1 cup Short Grain Japanese Rice, or sushi rice

For the kabayaki sauce:

For the furikake:


To prep eel filets:

  • For fresh/frozen eel filets:
    • Thaw the eel filets if needed.
    • Remove the spine of the filets by taking a knife and slicing just to the side of the spine. Continue slicing around the spine on both sides until a knife can slide underneath to remove it. Once the spine is fully removed, the filet should lay flat.
    • Transfer butterflied eel filets to a steam basket and steam until cooked through (about one minute in a pressure-cooker).
    • Remove from steam basket and place into kabayaki sauce to marinate before grilling.
  • For broiled/pre-marinated packs (Eel in the U.S. is most commonly found this way):
    • Simply thaw and grill on a cast-iron skillet or griddle until heated through.

For the kabayaki sauce:

  • Combine sake, mirin, soy sauce, and honey in a saucepan and reduce over medium-low heat until thickened and syrupy.
  • **Recipe Notes: The honey can be replaced with any kind of sugar to obtain similar results.

For the rice:

  • Bring one cup of rice to a vigorous boil with 2 1/2 cups of water.
  • Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let stand covered for an additional 10 minutes before serving.
  • **Recipe Notes: You can substitute another kind of rice if preferred (use manufacturer instructions for best results), but for authenticity, use short-grain Japanese rice.

For the furikake:

  • Finely chop the nori and mix with the remaining ingredients. Use as a finishing seasoning for rice, fish, or vegetables.

To grill/assemble:

  • Set up your Kamado Joe Classic II for high-heat, direct grilling. The use of a cast-iron griddle is also ideal. Without, you may want to a fish basket accessory to help keep the tender eel whole as it grills.
  • Place the precooked, marinated eel filets directly on a hot griddle, skin-side down. Cook until the skin is slightly charred/crispy and the filet is heated through (only a couple of minutes per side).
  • Serve BBQ eel filets over rice, and season with furikake, if preferred.

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