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Where to buy Unagi that isn't precooked?

k
kainzero Jul 30, 2009 11:35 AM

So it's Unagi season and I need to get some of that good ol' stamina-strengthening food.

Normally I buy the packaged Unagi Kabayaki at Marukai or Mitsuwa, which is delicious, cheap, and easy to make. But now I'm trying to be a little bit more mindful of eating sustainably and eating well, and the idea of eating Chinese-farmed Eel with a sauce mixture that came from who-knows-where... doesn't seem to be helping me get closer to that.

(Not to pick on Chinese farmers; they make some of the best green tea and oolong tea in the world, but I am suspect about their fishing practices)

Is there anywhere here in the LA area where can I order sustainably raised unagi? Or at the very least, without already being grilled and doused in that delicious but probably unhealthy sauce?

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  1. c
    cartbaby RE: kainzero Jul 30, 2009 01:49 PM

    I was reading mark bittman. He happened to mention that most chinese fish farming is actually small scale and quite sustainable. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/wee...

    of course this does not help your question. Maybe someone who cooks unagi will know about this. And btw I love this dish. I had it recently at the fast food shop in the gardena murakai.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cartbaby
      k
      kainzero RE: cartbaby Jul 30, 2009 02:43 PM

      I'm kind of wary about that because he quotes no source. (Although similarly, my alternate source Environmental Defense Fund has no source and says Unagi is an Eco-Worst choice just because Eels eat other fish.)

      1. re: kainzero
        b
        Bjartmarr RE: kainzero Jul 30, 2009 04:47 PM

        Here's a better source for you:
        http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr...

    2. Professor Salt RE: kainzero Jul 30, 2009 01:49 PM

      Are you asking about a restaurant where they serve kabayaki, or a market where you buy the raw product? If raw, you might try the fishmongers at a Korean supermarket like Freshia.

      I don't know about the source of the eels, though I'd be shocked if they weren't farm raised somewhere in Asia, in exactly the same manner as the precooked eels.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Professor Salt
        k
        kainzero RE: Professor Salt Jul 30, 2009 02:45 PM

        I'm looking for the market.

        It's a good thing Freshia is so close, I'll give that a shot. I'm pretty sure local, sustainable unagi is a pipe dream but at the very least I can assure myself that the brown sugar / mirin / soy sauce mixture isn't made from crappy ingredients and that I can grill it myself.

        1. re: kainzero
          Professor Salt RE: kainzero Jul 30, 2009 07:00 PM

          Local unagi. Good luck with that :P

          If you do DIY, please do let us know your kabayaki technique on the Home Cooking board. Would love to see photos (video!!) of you dispatching a live eel, mwahahahaha....

          1. re: Professor Salt
            Servorg RE: Professor Salt Jul 30, 2009 08:01 PM

            Eel have to get back to you on that video...

            1. re: Servorg
              k
              kainzero RE: Servorg Jul 31, 2009 10:47 AM

              Nice pun.

              Haha, I'd definitely want it dead before I start with it. Trying to kill it with my dull kitchen knives... that wouldn't end well.

              But I'll give it a shot next week and post the results, checking with Freshia. My Japanese teacher said they also sell it at Granada Market if you special order it. But I'm from the South Bay and driving so far just to pick up eel seems a bit wasteful.

      2. 5
        5SpdSolara RE: kainzero Jun 1, 2012 11:02 PM

        I know it's been a couple years... but hopefully this can help. If you want quality, go with the Japan produced Unagi Kabayaki from Marukai, Mitsuwa, and/or Nijiya. You can't go wrong but you'll be paying a premium for it. If you're trying to saving some dough and decide upon a Chinese farmed product, your best bet is to go with the brands offered at the same stores above. A particular brand distributed by "Supreme Foods" found at Marukai is of superior quality. I was informed that the Unagi sauce contained in their products is imported directly from Japan for use in production and offers the closest possible flavors for optimal results. Hope this helps, happy eating!

        1 Reply
        1. re: 5SpdSolara
          trolley RE: 5SpdSolara Jun 2, 2012 08:22 PM

          i second 5SpdSolara. I'd get premium prepared unagi over buying fresh. i remember my mom got fresh unagi once and it was a total PIA. from deboning to beheading, she lost her appetite bc it reminded her of a snake. she's old hat at cleaning fish as she's an old school Japanese person straight outta Tokyo but i guess it was something about the shape...i would also be weary of non-organic tea from china. my acupuncturist (who is from china) warned me about unregulated pesticide usage, but i guess that's for another thread!

        2. 5
          5SpdSolara RE: kainzero Jun 1, 2012 11:07 PM

          Here's a couple photos by the way for your reference.

           
           
          1. l
            la2tokyo RE: kainzero Jun 2, 2012 11:46 AM

            International Marine, the company that supplies most of the sushi bars in LA, sells fresh unagi periodically throughout the year. They are most likely to have it on Friday, and non-industry customers you should avoid going in before 9:30 am when they are frantically busy, but before everything is put away by 10:30 or 11. It should be on the price list on their website, http://www.intmarine.com/ but they may still have it even if it's not listed. It is very expensive, and requires deboning, which is very difficult. I am almost positive that there is nowhere else to buy unagi that isn't processed.

            No unagi is sustainable. Unagi farming requires baby unagi taken from the wild, as unagi do not breed in captivity. This has resulted wild unagi stocks to be fished to dangerously low levels everywhere unagi is farm raised. It's almost impossible to get wild unagi in restaurants in Japan any more.

            2 Replies
            1. re: la2tokyo
              barryc RE: la2tokyo May 15, 2014 11:08 AM

              if you think deboning unagi is difficult, try anago. but without the bones, you can't get the right flavor in the sauce.

              1. re: la2tokyo
                trolley RE: la2tokyo May 15, 2014 02:00 PM

                i know this is an old thread revived due to a post but International Marine is no longer opened to the general public.

              2. a
                AlkieGourmand RE: kainzero Jun 2, 2012 08:32 PM

                I recently saw fresh whole unagi at Seafood Paradise in Rosemead. As to whether it was "sustainably raised," I have no idea.

                1. p
                  peachesncream RE: kainzero Nov 19, 2012 09:21 PM

                  Which restaurants would you guys recommend for kabayaki (unagi don) in LA? I recently moved here (specifically, Santa Monica) and am also a huge fan of unagi.

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