Unagi with Kansas City BBQ sauce and single malt Scotch whisky

cooking unagi

This is my attempt to cook the classic unagi Japanese eel dish – with a decidedly Western influence. I managed to get my hands on some really fresh belut (freshwater eel) from the wet market. The lady also sells frogs and venison meat, the latter of which I made into a venison steak tartare.

belut eel

The large eels go for RM 10 while the smaller ones go for RM 5 each. I decided to get two of the smaller freshwater eels. It has been nicely dressed by the exotic meat (that’s what I like to call her) vendor to reveal the flesh with the head and bone hanging out.

You will need:

  • 2 freshwater eels
  • Kansas City BBQ sauce (sweeter than Texas style, and thicker)
  • Single malt Scotch whisky
  • Sugar and salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

freshwater eel

I sliced the freshwater eel into something resembling unagi as usually seen in the various Japanese restaurants around town. smirk They all seem to have a similar size and serving style, most of the commercial ones anyway.

scotch bbq sauce

I also added in a healthy slug of Jura 16 year old single malt Scotch whisky into the mix of KC BBQ sauce, sugar and salt. I am particularly fond of this one as it goes well with coffee i.e. Irish Coffee. I’ve been known to enjoy a cuppa on days starting with an S with a shot of good Scotch and nothing beats the 16 year old Diurach’s Own from the Isle of Jura.

basting unagi

I’ve tried lightly peated Islay malts like Bowmore Enigma, common tipples like Glenfiddich’s 14 year old Rick Oak, and even *Irish* single malt whiskey – the Bushmill 10 Year Old but nothing beats the barely legal Jura. It just goes well with coffee. I digress. I went off on this tangent coz I was hoping it’ll go well with eel too!

caramelized unagi

I grilled/sauteed the eel with EVOO over a very low heat fire and kept on basting it with the BBQ sauce and Scotch mixture. I must have flipped, added more sauce, and flipped the small pieces of freshwater eel again at least 30 times. I kid you not. I think that was the secret to the taste. It got a thumbs up from my better half at least! :)

scotch unagi

The basting process caramelized the BBQ sauce and Scotch mixture around the eel and with the constant flips, the reduction stuck to the unagi and it tasted really, really delicious! I wouldn’t call it a traditional Japanese unagi but I made my own sauce and it tastes like how a rather inept American home cook would render it, I imagine.

Not the correct technique, but very tasty!

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18 thoughts on “Unagi with Kansas City BBQ sauce and single malt Scotch whisky

    • Yeah, that and Macallan are the two most popular ones! :)

      They were in niche markets like Sarawak way back in the early 2000’s before all the single malt Scotch distilleries found that there’s a market for good Scotch here.

      Thanks Reana!

  1. That’s my type of fish. =P

    Don’t worry much about it not being the traditional unagi. I always believe that the best plate would always suit one’s palate. =)

    • Thanks Ciana! :)

      Indeed, I had a lot of fun doing this without the classic unagi ingredients and I’m glad it turned out well. My better half enjoyed it too!

    • Yeah, it’s a small eel so it looks like a snake more than the larger ones! :)

      I realized that a piece of fish I bought a while ago was in fact eel! It was so huge I didn’t know until my better half told me.

  2. Eeewwww! The sight of the sliced eel made my tummy turn! Show me your finished product will be good enough. You are very kinky and innovative in the kitchen, as always. They look really very delicious in dark sauces. Yumm!

    • That’s how they sell it in the wet market! :)

      The fresh produce that this lady offers can be quite interesting – her staples are frogs and eels but she can get venison too. I wonder what else she has, gotta ask next time.

    • Yup, it’s delicious stuff eh? :)

      I won’t say my version is as good as the ones in Japanese food places…but I love it!

      Yeah, eels looks a lot like snakes!

    • Yeah, one of my better cooking creations! :)

      I love the simplicity of doing it, although the multiple basting is a lot of work.

  3. I have no idea how an unagi looks like until seeing the whole fresh one in the market. It’s quite eerie, dear. No wonder I have you to handle from the scratch. Even refuse to wash it.ahaha

    Most important it turned out to be delicious!! Thanks dear…it’s good to see you cooking the unagi.

    • I’m glad you liked it dear! :)

      I think it’s delicious too, although not very authentic! It’s always good to cook although I think your cooking is much better than mine!

  4. omigosh, eel in its raw, uncooked form! definitely scary … you certainly have a strong stomach for handling it :D the final product sounds really good. i love your inventive sense of experimentation. very gutsy, we need more chefs like you around, daring us to venture out of our comfort zone :D

    • Haha! I don’t really mind handling game meat! :)

      Although I won’t call this game meat but same concept! Thanks for the kind comments buddy, it was a lot of fun to do a “Western” version instead of the classic Japanese way.

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