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Where to buy Unagi that isn't precooked?

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. 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

        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.)

      2. 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

          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

            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

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

              1. re: Servorg

                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. 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

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