Tastes like chicken? New ‘unagi’ product uses fowl in place of eel

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

If your “unagi” (grilled eel) dish tastes eerily similar to chicken this summer, that may be because it is.

Osaka-based Marudai Food Co. last week revealed its latest product, Toriniku no Kabayaki, which replicates the distinctive square-fillet of Japanese eel with chicken meat and comes with a sauce that is often used in unagi dishes.

“This year’s catch of eel fry has decreased by 21 percent from the previous year, and there is concern that prices of eels could rise sharply,” the food manufacturer said in a press release.

Their new product uses a patented method to imitate the unagi shape with chicken, and is sold for ¥380 per 100 gram — a fraction of the cost of domestic eels.

“The product is flame broiled and cooked to soften the meat,” Marudai said.

Eels are often consumed during the summer on specific dates, July 22 and Aug. 3 this year, that are known as Doyo no Ushi no Hi. The vitamins contained in eels have long been considered to help reduce fatigue and lack of appetite during the summer.