Allison Day
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Sushi! And a sustainable replacement for unagi.

Dragon Roll

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.


To be honest, I was both excited and disappointed when I saw this challenge. Because, well… I love sushi! But… I make sushi all the time. Where’s the challenge for me?

Dragon Roll

Sumeshi. Dragon Roll. Decorative rolls. Nigiri sushi. Those were the “challenges” for this month. For most people, this is a great challenge, because if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone is scared of trying to make sushi at home… I’d be a very rich woman indeed. But for me… I’ve done that all already. Countless times. *sigh*

BLT Spiral Roll

But!!! In fact, I was able to find something here to challenge me. You see, unagi is bad, bad, bad. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve eaten unagi many times in the past and enjoyed it quite a bit. But… it’s not sustainable. At all. Not good. Especially when these days, I’m trying to go completely sustainable, at least when it comes to seafood.

BLT Spiral Roll

Inspired by a roll Hajime Sato made at the Sustainable Sushi Dinner at Mashiko, I decided I would make my own sustainable replacement for unagi. Made from catfish. And that, my friends, was my challenge for this month’s Daring Cooks challenge.

So how did it turn out? Wonderfully. Perfect. The taste, the texture… we might as well have been eating unagi. It was fantastic.

BLT Spiral Roll

For the Dragon Roll instructions and the sumeshi recipe we were to use for this challenge, go check out the posts on Audax’s and Rose’s blogs. For lots and lots more sushi recipes and the instructions that I use for my own sushi, check out Sushi Day, my sushi blog.



  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup shoyu
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 catfish fillets

Cooking Instructions

  1. Combine the mirin, shoyu, and sugar in a small pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, then simmer for half an hour. Let cool.
  3. Marinate the catfish in the sauce overnight.
  4. Bring the oven to 350°F.
  5. Wrap the catfish fillets in individual foil packets, pouring some of the sauce over each fillet. Bake 30-45 minutes, keeping an eye on the catfish so it doesn’t overcook.
  6. Let cool. Enjoy!


11 Responses

  1. Ummmmm…. you have a sushi blog (which is full of the most beautiful sushi photography I have ever seen) yes…. I think this wasn’t much of a challenge for you at all and your pixs are so elegant (almost to good to eat but I would in a moment). Superb work on this and the catfish sounds so great and sustainable. Bravo bravo bravo on this ‘challenge’. Cheers from Audax in Australia. .

  2. gorgeous looking sushi, and your sushi blog is so beautiful!

  3. […] I’ve posted about sushi on my other blog, Fridgg, for this month’s Daring Cooks challenge. The recipe called for unagi… but unagi isn’t sustainable, and you know I […]

  4. What a great substitution! I love unagi as well but will definitely make this version instead as soon as I pick up some catfish fillets.

  5. Monterey Bay Aquarium has a pretty good list of Seafood that is safe to eat. I posted it on my facebook page recently.

  6. Always so find it so amusing that the Japanese do no make sushi at home but everyone else thinks nothing of having a go.

  7. […] a year ago, I came up with my own version of a sustainable replacement for unagi, using catfish. Personally, I really love this, because the taste and texture are very similar to […]

  8. Oh I am definitely going to try this! I but catfish all of the time because that’s about the only fish I can get in the high desert AND I love unagi! Great recipe and it looks like the real thing!

  9. Unagi could easily just be substituted with salt-water eel (anago – genus, conger, a different genus than freshwater unagi). It’s really quite similar. Anago is a little lighter in taste.

  10. Now I wanna try Catfish sushi tomorrow. Thank you for the insight and cooking directions.

  11. I’ve done this with tilapia as well. Works as a substitute for taste, but it’s flakier. I bet the catfish would work better for texture.

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