unagi roll

by easy quick meal
unagi roll

unagi sushi roll

An Unagi roll is a type of sushi roll commonly found in Japanese restaurants and sushi bars. It typically contains grilled freshwater eel, cucumber, and sometimes avocado, all wrapped in a sheet of nori (seaweed) and seasoned rice. The roll is often drizzled with a savory-sweet sauce, such as eel sauce or a teriyaki-like glaze, which enhances the flavor of the eel. Sometimes, sesame seeds are sprinkled on top for added texture and flavor.

Unagi rolls are known for their delicious combination of flavors and textures, with the smoky, tender eel contrasting with the crispness of the cucumber and the creaminess of the avocado (if included). They are a popular choice for sushi enthusiasts who enjoy the rich, umami taste of grilled eel.

The best ingredients for an Unagi roll typically include

  1. Freshwater Eel (Unagi): The star ingredient of the roll is the freshwater eel. Look for high-quality, fresh eel that has been properly grilled or cooked until tender and slightly crispy on the outside.
  2. Nori (Seaweed): Use a sheet of nori to wrap the ingredients. Make sure it’s fresh and crisp for the best texture.
  3. Sushi Rice: High-quality sushi rice is essential. It should be properly seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to provide a slightly sweet and tangy flavor that complements the eel.
  4. Cucumber: Thinly sliced cucumber adds a refreshing crunch and a bit of contrast to the richness of the eel.
  5. Avocado (optional): Some people like to add avocado to their Unagi rolls for a creamy texture and mild flavor. It’s an optional ingredient, but it can be a tasty addition.
  6. Eel Sauce or Teriyaki Glaze: Drizzle the roll with a savory-sweet eel sauce or teriyaki glaze. This sauce enhances the flavor of the eel and adds a delightful sweetness.
  7. Sesame Seeds (optional): Toasted sesame seeds can be sprinkled on top of the roll for added flavor and texture.

When making an Unagi roll at home or ordering one at a sushi restaurant, it’s important to use fresh ingredients to ensure the best taste and quality. Additionally, the skill of the sushi chef in rolling and presenting the dish can greatly affect the overall experience, so choosing a reputable sushi restaurant is essential if you’re dining out.

What is the difference between Unagi Nigiri and Unagi Rolls?

unagi roll

Unagi Nigiri and Unagi Rolls are both popular Japanese dishes that feature grilled eel (unagi) as a primary ingredient, but they are prepared and presented differently:

  1. Unagi Nigiri:
    • Unagi Nigiri consists of a small oblong-shaped bed of vinegared rice that is hand-pressed by a sushi chef. A slice of grilled eel (unagi) is then placed on top of the rice.
    • The eel is typically glazed with a sweet soy-based sauce called tare or kabayaki sauce. Sometimes, it’s briefly broiled after being brushed with the sauce to give it a slightly caramelized and crispy texture.
    • Unagi Nigiri is often garnished with a thin strip of nori (seaweed) to hold the eel in place and add a subtle flavor element.
    • It is usually served in pairs, and the simplicity of the presentation allows the flavor of the grilled eel to shine.
  2. Unagi Rolls (Unagi Maki or Dragon Roll):
    • Unagi Rolls, also known as Unagi Maki or Dragon Rolls, are sushi rolls that feature grilled eel as one of the primary ingredients, but they are more complex in composition.
    • To make Unagi Rolls, a sheet of nori (seaweed) is placed on a bamboo sushi rolling mat, and vinegared rice is spread over the nori. Various ingredients are then added, which can include avocado, cucumber, and sometimes cream cheese.
    • Grilled eel slices are placed on top of the rice, and the entire roll is then tightly wrapped and shaped using the bamboo mat.
    • Unagi Rolls are often topped with additional ingredients like avocado slices or thinly sliced eel for presentation and flavor.
    • They are typically sliced into bite-sized pieces and served with a variety of condiments and sauces, such as soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.
    • The combination of ingredients in Unagi Rolls can vary widely, and they are known for their creative and visually appealing presentations.

In summary, the main difference between Unagi Nigiri and Unagi Rolls is in their preparation and presentation. Unagi Nigiri is a simple dish featuring grilled eel on top of hand-pressed vinegared rice, while Unagi Rolls are more complex sushi rolls that incorporate grilled eel along with other ingredients, all wrapped in nori and rice. Both dishes are delicious and showcase the unique flavor of grilled eel, but they offer different dining experiences.

how to make unagi roll ?

Here’s a basic recipe to make an unagi roll at home. Please note that you’ll need access to sushi-grade eel and other fresh ingredients for the best results.


For the Unagi Roll:

  1. Sushi rice (prepared with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt)
  2. Nori (seaweed) sheets
  3. Grilled unagi (eel) fillets
  4. Cucumber, thinly sliced into strips
  5. Avocado (optional), thinly sliced
  6. Pickled ginger (gari) and wasabi (optional), for serving

For the Eel Sauce:

  1. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  2. 1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  3. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  4. 1 eel fillet (grilled)


  1. Prepare the Eel Sauce:
    • In a saucepan, combine soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.
    • Add a grilled eel fillet to the saucepan.
    • Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved.
    • Simmer for about 5-10 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly.
    • Remove the eel fillet from the sauce and set it aside.
    • Let the sauce cool. This will be used for drizzling over the roll.
  2. Prepare the Sushi Rice:
    • Cook sushi rice according to the package instructions.
    • While the rice is still warm, season it with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Use about 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt per cup of uncooked rice. Mix gently to evenly coat the rice. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
  3. Prepare the Eel:
    • If you haven’t bought pre-grilled eel fillets, you can grill them yourself. Simply brush the eel fillets with a bit of eel sauce and broil them for a few minutes until they are heated through and slightly caramelized. Slice them into thin strips.
  4. Assemble the Unagi Roll:
    • Lay a bamboo sushi rolling mat on a clean surface and cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap. Place a sheet of nori, shiny side down, on the plastic wrap.
    • Wet your hands to prevent the rice from sticking, and spread a thin, even layer of sushi rice over the nori, leaving a 1-inch border at the top edge.
    • Lay cucumber strips, avocado (if using), and grilled eel strips in the center of the rice.
  5. Roll the Sushi:
    • Using the bamboo mat, lift the edge of the nori closest to you and start rolling it over the filling.
    • Continue to roll, applying gentle pressure to shape the roll.
    • Wet the top border of nori slightly to seal the roll.
    • Use a sharp knife to cut the unagi roll into bite-sized pieces.
  6. Serve and Enjoy:
    • Arrange the unagi roll pieces on a plate.
    • Drizzle the eel sauce over the top of the roll.
    • Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce on the side.

how to serve unagi roll?

unagi roll

Serving an unagi roll is all about presentation and providing the right accompaniments to enhance the dining experience. Here’s how to serve an unagi roll:

  1. Plate Presentation:
    • Arrange the unagi roll pieces on a clean and attractive serving plate. You can place them in a row or arrange them in a circular pattern.
  2. Eel Sauce Drizzle:
    • Drizzle the prepared eel sauce over the top of the unagi roll. Make the drizzle as even as possible to cover the entire roll.
  3. Garnishes:
    • Add some aesthetically pleasing garnishes for color and flavor. Here are some options:
      • Sesame Seeds: Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds, either black or white, over the roll for a nutty flavor and visual appeal.
      • Chopped Green Onions: Finely chop green onions and sprinkle them on top for a fresh and slightly pungent kick.
      • Microgreens: A small cluster of microgreens, such as micro cilantro or micro shiso, can provide an elegant touch.
  4. Wasabi and Pickled Ginger:
    • Serve a small amount of wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and pickled ginger (gari) on the side of the plate. These are traditional accompaniments to sushi and can be used at the diner’s discretion.
  5. Soy Sauce:
    • Place a small dipping dish or soy sauce dispenser on the serving plate for guests to dip their unagi roll pieces if desired. Some people prefer to dip sushi lightly, while others may prefer to pour a small amount of soy sauce directly on the roll. Encourage your guests to enjoy the unagi roll as they like.
  6. Chopsticks and Soy Sauce Dishes:
    • Provide each guest with a pair of chopsticks and a small soy sauce dish for dipping.
  7. Napkins or Wet Towels:
    • Place individual or communal napkins or wet towels on the table for guests to clean their hands as sushi can be a bit messy.
  8. Serving Sake or Green Tea (Optional):
    • If you’re serving a full Japanese meal or want to enhance the dining experience, consider offering sake or green tea to complement the unagi roll.

Once everything is set up, let your guests know that the unagi roll is ready to be enjoyed. Sushi is typically eaten with chopsticks, but it’s also acceptable to eat with your fingers if you prefer. Encourage your guests to savor each bite and enjoy the combination of flavors and textures in the unagi roll.

How to Determine the Shelf Life of Unagi Sushi?

Determining the shelf life of unagi sushi, or any sushi for that matter, is crucial for food safety. Sushi contains perishable ingredients, and consuming it when it’s past its prime can lead to foodborne illnesses. Here’s how you can determine the shelf life of unagi sushi:

  1. Date of Preparation:
    • The first step in determining the shelf life of unagi sushi is to know when it was prepared. If you’re making it at home, make a note of the date and time of preparation.
  2. Refrigeration:
    • Sushi is highly perishable, and it should be refrigerated promptly after preparation. Store it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap to prevent air exposure. Place it in the refrigerator at a temperature of 32°F to 41°F (0°C to 5°C).
  3. Sushi Rice Quality:
    • The quality of the sushi rice significantly affects the shelf life of unagi sushi. Sushi rice tends to harden and dry out over time. Ideally, sushi is best when consumed on the same day it’s prepared or within 24 hours.
  4. Unagi (Eel):
    • The grilled eel used in unagi sushi can also affect its shelf life. Sushi-grade eel is typically flash-frozen for safety. Check the packaging or consult the supplier to determine if it’s safe to consume raw. If it’s not sushi-grade or you’re unsure, it’s best to consume the sushi within 24 hours.
  5. Perishable Ingredients:
    • If your unagi sushi includes other perishable ingredients like avocado, cucumber, or fish, their freshness should be considered. Fresh ingredients are essential for sushi quality and safety. Use your best judgment and prioritize consuming sushi with these ingredients quickly.
  6. Appearance and Smell:
    • Visual and olfactory cues can help you determine if unagi sushi is still safe to eat. Sushi that is no longer fresh may have dried-out rice or off-putting odors. If you notice any unusual or unpleasant changes, it’s best not to consume it.
  7. Temperature Control:
    • If you’re buying unagi sushi from a restaurant or store, make sure it has been stored and transported under proper temperature conditions. It should be kept refrigerated until you purchase it.
  8. Use-By Date:
    • If you’re buying packaged unagi sushi from a store, check the label for a “use-by” or “best-by” date. Always respect this date and consume the sushi before it expires.
  9. Food Safety Guidelines:
    • Follow your local food safety guidelines and regulations. In some places, sushi restaurants and stores are required to label the shelf life of their sushi products.

In summary, unagi sushi is best consumed on the same day it’s prepared or within 24 hours, especially if it contains raw or perishable ingredients. Always prioritize food safety and use your best judgment when assessing the freshness of sushi. When in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of caution and discard sushi that may not be safe to eat.

Choosing Nori Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

unagi roll

Choosing the right nori sheets is essential for making delicious sushi and other Japanese dishes. Nori is the edible seaweed used for wrapping sushi rolls, making snacks, and adding umami flavor to various dishes. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you choose the best nori sheets:

  1. Consider the Grade:
    • Nori sheets come in different grades, ranging from A to D, with A being the highest quality. Grade A nori is the most suitable for making sushi, as it has a delicate flavor, a crisp texture, and a glossy appearance. Grades B and C are slightly lower in quality and are often used for snacks or garnishes. Grade D is typically not recommended for sushi.
  2. Check the Color:
    • Fresh nori sheets should have a deep, dark green color. Avoid nori that appears faded or discolored, as it may indicate lower quality or staleness.
  3. Texture and Texture Side:
    • Nori sheets have two sides: a smooth side and a rough side. The smooth side is typically the front or presentation side, while the rough side is used to adhere the nori to the rice. The texture should be crisp and not too brittle. Choose nori with an even texture on both sides.
  4. Packaging:
    • Inspect the packaging for any signs of damage, such as tears, holes, or moisture. Damaged packaging can lead to nori sheets that are less fresh and may have lost their crispness.
  5. Seaweed Thickness:
    • Nori sheets come in different thicknesses, typically labeled as “regular” or “toasted.” Regular nori sheets are thin and suitable for making sushi rolls. Toasted nori sheets are thicker and are often used for snacks like nori chips. Choose the thickness that suits your intended use.
  6. Roasting Method:
    • Some nori sheets are roasted using traditional methods, while others may use electric or infrared ovens. Traditional roasting methods are believed to produce a superior flavor and aroma. If possible, opt for nori sheets roasted using traditional methods for a more authentic taste.
  7. Brand Reputation:
    • Research reputable nori brands or manufacturers known for producing high-quality seaweed products. Reading reviews or asking for recommendations from experienced sushi chefs or enthusiasts can help you make an informed choice.
  8. Storage:
    • Ensure that the nori sheets have been stored properly in a cool, dry place. Exposure to moisture or heat can affect the quality of the nori.
  9. Quantity:
    • Consider how many nori sheets you need. Nori sheets are typically sold in packs, and the number of sheets per pack can vary. Choose a pack size that suits your needs to minimize waste.
  10. Price:
    • Quality nori sheets may be a bit more expensive, but they are worth the investment for the best flavor and texture. Balance quality with your budget to find the best option for you.

Once you’ve chosen the right nori sheets, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to maintain their freshness. Properly stored nori can last for several months. Enjoy using your high-quality nori sheets to create delicious sushi rolls and other Japanese dishes.

Are Unagi Rolls gluten-free?

Unagi rolls, which typically consist of grilled eel, rice, and other ingredients like cucumber or avocado wrapped in nori (seaweed), are generally gluten-free in their core components. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind regarding gluten when it comes to unagi rolls:

  1. Nori (Seaweed): Nori sheets used to wrap sushi, including unagi rolls, are naturally gluten-free. They are made from seaweed and do not contain wheat or gluten.
  2. Unagi Sauce: The sauce used on unagi rolls, often referred to as eel sauce, can sometimes contain soy sauce as one of its ingredients. Regular soy sauce contains wheat and is not gluten-free. However, you can find gluten-free soy sauce alternatives, such as tamari or gluten-free soy sauce, which can be used to make gluten-free eel sauce.
  3. Sushi Rice: Sushi rice, the rice used in unagi rolls, is naturally gluten-free. However, some commercially prepared sushi rice seasonings or vinegar may contain added ingredients that could potentially contain gluten. It’s a good idea to check the label of any seasoning you use to ensure it’s gluten-free.
  4. Additional Ingredients: If you choose to add ingredients like avocado, cucumber, or other vegetables to your unagi roll, these are generally gluten-free. Just be cautious of any sauces or seasonings you use with them, as some may contain gluten.
  5. Cross-Contamination: When preparing unagi rolls, it’s essential to avoid cross-contamination with gluten-containing ingredients or surfaces. Ensure that your utensils, cutting boards, and hands are clean and free from any gluten residues.

To make gluten-free unagi rolls, you can take the following steps:

  • Use gluten-free soy sauce alternatives or eel sauce made with gluten-free soy sauce for drizzling over the eel.
  • Choose sushi rice seasoning that is gluten-free or make your own using vinegar, sugar, and salt.
  • Use fresh, gluten-free ingredients for fillings and garnishes.

By taking these precautions and using gluten-free alternatives when necessary, you can enjoy delicious gluten-free unagi rolls without any concerns about gluten contamination. However, it’s always a good practice to double-check ingredient labels and consult with guests who have gluten sensitivities or allergies to ensure they can enjoy your sushi creations safely.

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unagi roll

unagi roll

Serves: 8 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 39 calories 1g fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


For the Unagi Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1/4 cup sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 eel fillet (usually around 8 ounces), grilled and sliced into thin strips

For the Sushi Rice:

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Unagi Roll:

  • 1 sheet of nori (seaweed), cut in half
  • 1/2 cucumber, julienned into thin strips
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced into thin strips (optional)
  • Pickled ginger (gari) for serving
  • Wasabi (optional)
  • Soy sauce for dipping


  1. Prepare the Sushi Rice:

    • Rinse the sushi rice in cold water until the water runs clear.
    • Combine the rinsed rice and water in a rice cooker or a heavy-bottomed pot. Cook according to the manufacturer's instructions or by bringing it to a boil, then reducing the heat to low, covering, and simmering for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and has absorbed all the water.
    • While the rice is still hot, transfer it to a large bowl. Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt together, and gently fold this mixture into the hot rice. Be gentle to avoid mashing the rice. Let the rice cool to room temperature.
  2. Prepare the Unagi Sauce:

    • In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat.
  3. Grill the Unagi (Eel):

    • If you have pre-grilled eel, you can skip this step. If you're using uncooked eel fillets, grill them for a few minutes on each side until they are cooked through and slightly crispy. Brush the eel with the prepared unagi sauce during grilling. Once cooked, slice the eel into thin strips.
  4. Assemble the Unagi Rolls:

    • Lay a bamboo sushi rolling mat on a clean surface and place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of it. Place a half-sheet of nori, shiny side down, onto the plastic wrap.
    • Wet your hands with water to prevent sticking, and take a handful of sushi rice. Spread it evenly over the nori, leaving about half an inch of nori at the top edge.
    • Lay a few strips of grilled unagi, cucumber, and avocado (if using) horizontally across the center of the rice.
  5. Roll the Sushi:

    • Using the bamboo mat and plastic wrap, start rolling the sushi away from you, tucking the filling in as you go. Apply gentle pressure to shape the roll.
    • Wet the top edge of the nori with a bit of water to seal the roll.
    • Use a sharp knife dipped in water to slice the roll into bite-sized pieces.
  6. Serve:

    • Arrange the unagi rolls on a plate and serve with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce for dipping.
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