Unagi Chazuke (Hitsumabushi) is a popular rice bowl from Nagoya which features broiled eel on top of the steamed rice. Piping hot broth is poured on the rice to enjoy. It’s perfect comfort food on a busy weeknight!
Unagi Chazuke (鰻茶漬け) is one of Mr. JOC’s favorite dishes. Before we were married, the only unagi dish he knew was Unagi Don (Unadon/Broiled Eel over Rice). After I introduced Unagi Chazuke to him, he loved it so much that he only requests this dish whenever we buy unagi. It’s a light and comforting dish that can be prepared easily on a busy weeknight!
The rice bowl is very alike to Hitsumabushi (櫃まぶし), a specialty dish from Nagoya prefecture. I will talk about the differences between the two in today’s post.
What is Unagi Chazuke?
As most of you already know, unagi (うなぎ or 鰻) is a freshwater eel in Japanese. Chazuke or ochazuke (お茶漬け) is a dish where green tea or dashi broth is poured over steamed rice. I have a classic Ochazuke recipe on the website if you’re interested.
So Unagi Chazuke is simply grilled or broiled unagi placed over steamed rice (which is called Unadon) and served with hot broth.
You can use either dashi or green tea for the hot broth. For today’s recipe, I used both dashi and konbucha (昆布茶), which is powdered kombu tea. The saltiness and umami from konbucha make a very delicious soup broth.
Is Unagi Chazuke Similar to Hitsumabushi?
If you have been to Nagoya, Japan, you probably had a chance to try the popular Hitsumabushi (櫃まぶし) that looks rather similar to Unagi Chazuke. There are popular Hitsumabushi restaurants everywhere in Nagoya, and some big chains have branches in the Tokyo area as well.
Let’s take a look at the differences between the two dishes.
- Served in a donburi (a large bowl).
- Unagi is served without cutting into smaller pieces.
- The soup broth can be green tea or dashi or sometimes a combination.
- Originated in Nagoya.
- Served in Ohitsu (a round, wooden container to keep cooked rice).
- Unagi is cut into smaller pieces (1 cm).
- The soup broth is dashi.
- Enjoy the dish in 3 steps (Step 1 – eat only unagi and rice. Step 2 – eat with toppings and condiments (green onion, wasabi, and nori seaweed). Step 3 – pour the side broth (ochazuke) over rice and enjoy!
Quick and Easy Weeknight Meal!
This recipe was from my mother’s where she learned it from a friend. As my parents love unagi, I grew up eating Unagi Chazuke when my mom was too busy to cook.
This recipe was my very first recipe on Just One Cookbook and originally published on January 3rd, 2011, the third day after I started blogging. I remember we had many Western-style meals over the holidays, so it was nice to have a comforting Japanese dish again.
If you like Unadon, I hope you give this unagi dish a try next time!
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Unagi Chazuke (Hitsumabushi)
For Unagi Donburi
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Make Broth
- In a small saucepan, combine dashi and konbucha.
- Heat the broth over medium heat and whisk well. Taste the broth and adjust with more konbucha or salt if necessary.
To Prepare Unagi
- Cut unagi in half (or maybe third) to fit inside your serving bowls.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Place unagi on top. WITHOUT preheating, put the baking sheet in the middle rack of your oven, and broil on high for 7 minutes (no need to flip).
- After 7 minutes or so, take it out and brush the unagi Sauce over the fillet. Broil for another 30 to 60 seconds until you see bubbles on top of unagi.
- Cut the mitsuba and green onion into small pieces.
- Serve steamed rice in bowls and brush unagi sauce on the rice. Place unagi on top. You can cut Unagi into 1-inch pieces (easier to eat with chopsticks). Pour/brush more unagi sauce, if you like.
- Right before you serve, pour the broth over the unagi and garnish with green onions, mitsuba, and sesame seeds. You can sprinkle Japanese sansho pepper which gives more peppery, citrus flavor. Enjoy!
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on January 3, 2011. The images have been updated in January 2020.