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Difference between Unagi and Anago

When it comes to eels in rice, there are two main types most commonly eaten in Japan: unagi and anago.

From ancient times, from Japan to China to Europe and the United States, eel is a popular food, but the preference for eel varies from place to place. So what kind of eel is in the typical eel meal?

Many people get their first taste of Japanese food from a bowl of soft and juicy eel rice.

unagi rice

The eel meat is roasted until golden, and brushed with a rich sauce. It is charred on the outside and tender on the inside, and the aroma is very compelling. Then a bowl of rice, rice flavor mixed with meat flavor.

Unagi(freshwater eel


River eel like anguilla anguilla, American eels, belong to the eels genera, they like to live in the tropical and temperate environment, the Japanese island of Hokkaido in the west Pacific Ocean and fresh water to the Philippines can see them.

Sea and fresh water? Yes, this guy was born with a "life of toil", moving between land and sea all his life. River eels may sound like freshwater fish, but when they are born, they are officially given a "Marine identity card."

A newborn river eel develops from an egg into a flat, transparent larva shaped like a floating leaf. It has been given the name leaf eel or willow eel. Perhaps because they are adrift, the eel begins its long journey with the current.

By the time they reach coastal waters, their leaf-like bodies have become streamlined, but they are still transparent and look so delicate that they are also called glass eels. Their streamlined bodies help them reduce drag and escape the currents, leaving their nomadic days behind and making their homes in estuarine waters.

When they first arrive in the river, the eel's transparent body becomes translucent and black with melanin, called eel line. The eel line period is the "puberty" of their exuberant growth, when the river eels grow their yellow bellies and grow into yellow eels.

Once they reach sexual maturity in fresh water, the eels head back to the sea, where they undergo another transformation. Their bodies turn silver-white, their pectoral fins widen, and they become silver eels, the eels we see on our dinner tables.

River eel is the most authentic "uangi kabayaki rice" material, is also the most representative eel in Japan, in addition to kabayaki, " unagi shirayaki", "unagi rice" is also a common way to eat river eel.

But in season, eels are eaten in winter and spring, when they store up their fat for the winter and become fatter and more fleshy. However, people generally do not have good appetite in summer, so eating eel rich in protein at this time can be appetizing and tonifying.

In addition, the proportion of eel fat in summer is more balanced, without the greasy feeling of eel in winter, so it tastes just right. In this way, river eels in summer make the most delicious eel,

The original unagi kabayaki is wild river eel, their meat is less spiny, rich in nutrition, the uangi kabayaki produced has its own flavor, but due to overfishing, now wild river eel is very rare, now we go to the Japanese food restaurant to eat basically are farmed river eel, don't worry about it, the farmed river eel is also very good taste!



Anago is a species of fish belonging to the genus Astragalus of the Family Congichlidae, anguilla anguilla, which is also a moray eel. Anago we may be relatively strange, but when it comes to acupoints, friends who understand Japanese materials may know.

“穴子“ is the Japanese name for the anago, which lives in the mud at the bottom of the sea and prefers to hide most of its body in a mud nest with only one head exposed to search for food.

Not only were they relatively new to the Japanese, but for a long time they remained unknown until fishermen discovered their resemblance to the eel and roasted them to disguise them as grilled eels.

This continued for a long time, until the rise of nigiri and tempura gave tempura a chance to shine.

In Japan alone, there are more than 50 kinds of cooking methods, excellent in boiling, frying and roasting. Its fat content is about half of that of river eel, and it is rich in nutrition, fragrant and glutinous in taste, firm in meat and affordable. Now, it has become the supersta in the Japanese food industry, no less than river eel


Finally, let's summarize the differences between unagi and anago:

 Both eels belong to anguilla anguilla, except that unagi belong to Eels: anguilla anguillidae and anago belong to conger eel division.

Uangi migration between the river and the sea, cave belongs to the bottom of the rock cave sojourner fish, generally do not do long-distance migration.

 In terms of appearance, moray eels have sharp teeth and sharp mouths, which are the most fierce. River eels and ango are a bit like twins, which are cute and goofy.  In size, moray eels have a distinct dorsal fin and a row of white spots on either side of the hole, so they are not blind to one another.

 The eel is fatty and more flavorful than the eel, but the meat is firmer, though it is covered with "Y" shaped spines that make it a bit more difficult to handle.