Unagi is a delicacy in Japan, and an expensive one too. Unagi is loved for it's flavour and apparently it also is said to have stamina giving properties. This is why it is traditionally eaten on the "Day of the Ox", which falls during the hottest part of summer. as it will provide you with the umpf you need to get through the rest of the year.
I was discussing with the Fuminator how lucky I was to be in Tokyo in summer (even though it was a stinking hot 34?C on the previous day). Why was I lucky? Summer equals unagi in Japan. I had expressed that I had hoped to enjoy unagi no kaba- yaki (grilled eel) before heading back to Sydney.
Well low and behold, guess what turned up in my bento box for our lunch break during our day long of discussions at HQ. Unagi no kaba-yaki!!!
I will admit they were the biggest pieces of eel I have ever been presented with, they were massive. I am use to the small portions of grilled eel you find on top of sushi or even plated in restaurants. I haven’t seen anything like this in Sydney, or elsewhere actually. The largest piece above is 20cm long.
It was explained to me that there are three grades for unagi.
Pine (matsu ? ) - the most expensive and sought after unagi
Bamboo (take ?) - medium grade
Plum (ume ? ) - least expensive and lower grade (but still expensive & delicious)
The Fuminator, with much pride, advised me that my unagi was indeed matsu unagi. What a lucky girl was I.