Monday, December 26, 2016

Eel rice 櫃まぶし

This is the second eel dish I made from the packet of eel I had in the freezer. It was also our ending "shime" dish for the evening. We started the meal with pork  belly "Kakuni" 角煮 and "U-maki" 鰻巻き. I could have made the usual Unadon うな丼 or Unaju うな重 (eel over rice in a bowl or rectangular lacquered box) but I decided to make "Hitsu-mabushi" 櫃まぶし which is a local dish in Nagoya 名古屋. It is an essentially more approachable (read "cheaper") version of unaju; small chopped up pieces of eel kabayaki mixed with rice seasoned with eel sauce. This dish may have started as a way to use the small end pieces of eel which may not have been suited for una-ju or una-don. It is traditionally served in a shared "Hitsu" 櫃 or a box with lid like I did here and my wife and I shared it. Using small pieces of eel mixed into the rice makes sharing more reasonable since it is more difficult for one person to just snarf up the whole eel piece and "run".

Usually, it is served with some condiments such as julienne of perilla leaves, scallion and nori seaweed.  Supposedly, you first enjoy the dish as is and then add the condiments. Finally wasabi and broth are added and it is eaten as "Ochazuke" お茶漬け. Although I prepared the broth for this, we ended up not having the Ochazuke.

The sauce was the same as I made for "U-maki" 鰻巻き.

I prepared the frozen and packaged eel kabayaki as I described in the "U-maki" post. I first removed the sauce the eel was packaged in by gently washing the fillet in hot water. I then cooked it in the toaster oven with my homemade sauce. I mixed some sauce and thin strips of eel kabayaki into the rice and mixed.

Sometimes small bones bother my wife when eating eel. (On one occasion I had to remove said bones from my wife's throat using a pair of plyers; that was a memorable meal not to be repeated). So I have to be very careful to remove as many bones as possible. I found some small bones were particularly dense under the fins and cut them off which helped a lot. We really enjoyed this dish. It is easier to eat since the eel was cut into small pieces and the rice was well seasoned with the eel sauce. I hope we will have something left next time for ochazuke.

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