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!

Kung pow fish roe, squid and eel with pig tail omelet

kung pow seafood start

I hardly ever cook Chinese meals although I love eating tai chow as much as the next Oriental dude. The main reason for this is coz I don’t have a huge wok and a good ol’ fashioned flame for that elusive “wok hei” (literally wok heat – a reference to the caramelized texture of superheated food). 

kung pow style

I like kung pow (insert meat) so I decided to go back to my China roots and start cooking some Chinese food.

You will need: 

ingredients

Pig’s tail
Dried chillis
Fish roe
Squid
Eel
Kikkoman soy sauce
Lee Kum Kee Oyster sauce
Sunflower and canola oil
Eggs
Onions and garlic
Calamansi lime 

pig tail

Kung pow dishes are made with dried chillis, which obviously makes this an essential ingredient. Here’s a detailed (geddit? de-tailed) photo of the pig’s tail. 

fish roe squid eel

We started off by preparing all the seafood items. 

chopped seafood

Eel, those snake like creatures dwelling in the depths of the ocean (talking crap here) should be cut into bite-sized pieces. The squid has to be disemboweled and sliced into rings. You don’t really need to have a ring shaped apparatus – squid is hollow after preparation so just slice it and it’ll produce rings. Calamansi limes were squeezed over it to get rid of the distinct aquatic smell.

Fish roe. Mmm…full of cholestrol, but yet so delicious.

fry onions

My friend decided that this won’t taste very good with normal steamed rice – a point I vehemently disagree – so she added in some cooking oil and chopped garlic into the rice cooker. 

add rice

This is fried INSIDE the rice cooker BEFORE the rice was added in. 

fry rice

She then measured out the rice and started frying it with all the above before adding water and cooking it with several sauces lying around in my fridge. 

add sauce

Now, for the difficult part. Babe’s (not Babe Ruth, Babe the pig) pretty little pink tail has to be chopped up. 

pigs tail

This is more difficult than it sounds. I never knew those damn swine would have tendons/cartilage/whatever you call it as tough as this.

I attempted to do it with a serrated knife. Let me advice you that this is a Bad Idea (TM) and could lead to unfortunate incidents like Slicing Your Damn Finger Off (TM) as almost happened to this narrator. 

chop pig tail

I have a chopper which I forgot I had. Use a chopper instead. You’ll thank me.

Fucking pig’s tail. You almost cost me my index finger. *glares* 

frying pig tail

Anyway, add in the sliced onions and start frying Babe’s tail in extra virgin olive oil since he’s like a nice pig and all and even his tail deserves reverence.

It requires a Great Deal (TM) of frying which translates into 3212999 days in the standard measurements of time. I’m not kidding, it takes ages for the damn thing to cook. 

add eggs

After the piggy’s tail is all nice and cooked, crack six (6) eggs into the frying pan. Oh, before I forget, cooking posts are always meant for two. As in it should have a Serves: 2 on top if this were a proper cooking blog, which obviously it’s not. I just like to cook. 

cooking pig tail omelet

Put it on low heat until the pig’s tail omelet cooks to perfection. 

pig tail omelet

Now, let us concentrate on the seafood. Fry finely chopped garlic (a point I neglected to mention at the beginning – you should have chopped garlic. Heh!) and add in the dried chillis. 

cooking kung pow

You’re going to need a lot of oil for the kung pow fish roe, squid and eel so we got a Sunflower Canola bottle for this (Tesco store brand).

Cook on the highest heat your stove/heating element/whatever can manage (which isn’t very much for my ceramic one). Keep this going for a good 3 minutes or so and start adding in the seafood. Start with the squid (cooks slowest), quickly followed by the eel, and the egg roe at the very end (coz I like it kinda raw).

kung pow fish roe squid eel

Add in some oyster sauce and soy sauce and fry it as vigorously as you can for 10 minutes and then serve. 

flavored rice

The fluffy rice was nicely flavored and the pig’s tail omelet went well with the kung pow fish roe, squid and eel to subdue the spiciness of the dish. 

kung pow seafood end

Verdict: It was a good effort, but it wouldn’t beat even the crappiest tai chow’s kung pow offerings, due to the lack of wok hei (read beginning for definition).

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