Skip to Content

Anago vs Unagi: What’s the Difference?

Ever peered into a sushi menu and spotted anago and unagi? Both may be eel, but oh boy, they’re not twins.

Anago is the sea’s gift, a lighter, slightly sweet delight. Unagi? It’s the freshwater cousin, richer and bolder.

We’ve had our rounds of sushi mishaps, grabbing one and expecting the flavor of the other.

Here, we’ll lay it all out. You’ll get the scoop on each one.

No more mix-ups. We’re here to guide you through this sushi conundrum, experience in hand.

What is Anago?

Anago is a sushi made with conger eel.

It has a softer texture and lighter flavor than Unagi.

To prepare it, you must boil or steam the eel first.

Then flavor it with soy sauce and sweetened rice wine.

Anago has a unique texture that goes well with other ingredients like avocado or cucumber.

Plus, eels are plentiful off Japan’s coast, especially during summer when migrating to fresh water rivers.

This makes Anago more affordable than Unagi.

It’s a great choice for sushi lovers who want to try something new.

What is Unagi?

Unagi is a Japanese treat made of freshwater eels.

Grill them with a unique sauce for a soft, juicy texture and a savory flavor.

Unagi tastes richer and more robust than anago, another type of grilled eel.

Plus, unagi has more health benefits due to its higher fat content.

In Japan, unagi is served on special days such as Tanabata and the Day of the Ox.

It’s also a favorite at sushi bars around the world all year long.

Differences Between Anago and Unagi

Anago and unagi are two kinds of eel used in Japanese food.

Though similar, they have many contrasts.

Anago is usually smaller and has a different flavor.

1 – Species of Eel

Eels are a popular dish in Japan.

Anago and Unagi are two kinds; one is saltwater, the other freshwater.

Anago’s taste is mild, while Unagi is bold and oily.

Both have been eaten in Japan for 1000+ years.

Recently, the government has tried to limit their consumption to protect them.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.

Both eels add unique flavor to Japanese dishes.

2 – Habitat and Origin

Anago and Unagi are two kinds of eel, found in Japanese cuisine.

Anago is from the saltwater Pacific Ocean.

Unagi, from the rivers of Japan, is freshwater.

Their habitat affects the flavor and texture.

Anago has a delicate taste and tender flesh.

Unagi’s muddy habitat gives it a robust flavor and firm texture.

Anago is usually eaten as sushi or tempura.

Unagi is usually grilled or served in a savory sauce.

Interesting fact: Anago is labeled “red listed” due to overfishing.

Unagi farming is becoming more common to meet demand for this delicacy.

3 – Flavor and Taste

Anago and Unagi have distinct flavors.

Anago is milder and sweeter, with a firmer texture.

Unagi is bolder, richer and often paired with sweet sauce.

Both have an umami flavor, but Anago is favored by those who prefer subtle tastes.

Unagi is grilled and enhanced with flavorful sauces, making it a delicacy for foodies.

The differences in flavor and texture make it hard to pick a favorite.

4 – Preparation and Cooking Methods

Cooking Anago and Unagi needs special techniques.

Anago is salted and grilled or fried.

Unagi is grilled first, then steamed with a sweet and savory sauce of soy sauce, mirin and sugar.

Both fish need to be scored for the marinades to sink in.

Anago is served as sushi.

Unagi is usually alone with rice.

Tiny details make the difference in their taste and presentation.

Similarities Between Anago and Unagi

Anago and Unagi are two kinds of eel popular in Japanese cuisine.

Though they may seem similar, they differ in many ways.

But, they do share some similarities too.

Both have a sweet, tender taste when cooked right.

Anago and unagi can be served in various forms, like sushi or grilled with a sweet glaze.

Plus, they are both full of nutrients, making them great healthy options.

Their cooked meat has the same texture; it’s smooth and melts in your mouth.

The two are distinct in appearance.

Anago has thinner and firmer flesh, and is less oily.

It tends to be lighter in color with bones along its length.

Unagi, on the other hand, has broad, thicker meat with more oil.

This gives it a higher calorie content than anago.

Plus, its skin has a unique grilled flavor.

Culinary Uses and Popular Dishes

Anago and Unagi may seem similar, but they’re actually different.

Anago is saltwater eel, while Unagi is freshwater eel.

Anago has a milder taste and less fat, compared to Unagi’s richer flavor and oilier texture.

Anago is usually served as sushi.

Unagi is usually cooked as a standalone dish with sauce or soup.

It’s also used in dishes like Unadon and Hitsumabushi.

Preparing these two dishes requires different methods.

Anago is grilled and steamed for a soft texture.

Unagi has an extra step – kabayaki.

This involves marinating it in soy sauce and grilling twice.

Anago and Unagi are two remarkable dishes in Japanese cuisine.

Every bite is an exciting new experience.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Value of Anago and Unagi

Anago and Unagi are two well-loved Japanese delicacies.

People confuse them, as they look and taste quite similar.

But, they differ in the type of eel used.

Anago is a saltwater eel and Unagi a freshwater eel.

Both have many nutritional and health benefits.

Anago has protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, B12 and D.

But, it has lower fat content than Unagi.

This makes it great for those who are watching their weight.

Studies show that eating Anago regularly can help improve heart health.

It can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Unagi contains vitamins A, B1, B2, D and E as well as minerals like phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

It is a great source of protein, which helps build muscle and improve digestion.

Vitamin A in Unagi is great for the eyes and vitamin E is an antioxidant.

Surprisingly, both Anago and Unagi have chondroitin sulfate.

It helps reduce joint inflammation and relieve arthritis pain.

Where to Find Anago and Unagi?

Anago and Unagi – two types of eel that are popular in Japanese cuisine.

Where to find them? Read on.

  • Anago is usually found near Tokyo’s Pacific coast.
  • Unagi is usually found near Kyoto’s Atlantic coast.
  • You can also get them in many Japanese restaurants worldwide.
  • If the restaurant offers sushi or sashimi, it could have Anago and Unagi too.
  • Sometimes, they come with bento boxes or rice bowls.
  • Be brave. Cook your own Anago and Unagi at home, using fresh eel from a seafood market or specialty store.

Know this too: Anago and Unagi look similar, but taste differently.

Anago has a milder flavor and softer texture than Unagi.

Also, Anago is cooked with salt, not the sweet soy-based sauce used for Unagi.

No matter your choice, Anago and Unagi promise a unique culinary experience.


Anago and unagi are two eel types popular in Japanese cuisine.

Although they look alike, there are key differences.

Anago has a milder, softer taste with a sweet flavor.

Unagi is richer, firmer, and usually grilled with tare – a sweet soy glaze.

Which one to choose? It’s up to you.

Anago’s sweetness or unagi’s boldness? Both make a great addition to any meal.

Anago vs Unagi: What’s the Difference?

Andrew Gray
Eager to distinguish between anago and unagi? Explore our guide illuminating the differences in flavor, texture, and culinary usage between these two types of eel.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Anago
  • Unagi


  • Choose between Anago and Unagi based on your preference and availability.
  • Follow the cooking directions specific to your chosen option, ensuring proper preparation and cooking techniques.
  • Incorporate the Anago or Unagi into your dish according to your desired recipe.
  • Cook the Anago or Unagi to perfection, following recommended cooking times and methods.
  • Serve and enjoy the distinct flavors and textures of Anago or Unagi, savoring their unique characteristics.
  • Experiment with different recipes and preparations to fully appreciate the versatility of both Anago and Unagi.
Keyword Anago vs Unagi
Did you make this recipe?Mention @AmericasRestaurant or tag #americasrestaurant!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating