Unagi sushi faux-nagi gindara sablefish sushi recipe

This unagi sushi recipe uses sustainable sablefish (or gindara, in Japanese) in place of traditional and unsustainable freshwater eel. So perhaps faux-nagi is better term for it!

If you love unagi, this sablefish sushi recipe will be a close cousin that you’ll feel a lot better about eating, when considering the sustainability issues of fishing eel. If you’re looking for an easy sushi recipe to make at home, here’s what you need…

Seared sablefish unagi sushi sustainable
Sustainable unagi sushi recipe – use sablefish (black cod) instead of eel. Source: Twitter, @GindaraSable.


  • 1 1/2 lbs. sablefish fillet (or black cod)
  • 1 large sheet konbu (kelp)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. mirin
  • 1 handful katsuobushi (skipjack flakes)
  • potato starch
  • sesame seeds
  • extra sake
  • extra water
  • steamed rice

Serves 8 People


  • Dust both sides of the sablefish with sea salt. Cover the fillets in plastic wrap and transfer to fridge. Let sit 15-20 min.
  • Wash salt off of fillets with cold water. Blot dry.
  • Tear konbu into fillet size pieces. Wet paper towel with sake and moisten konbu. Sandwich sablefish between pieces of konbu. Cover fillet in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-40 min. Remove konbu and return fillet to fridge.
  • Mix soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and katsuobushi with 1 1/2 tbsp of sake, and 1 1/2 tbsp water in saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 10 min.
  • Drain and remove katsuobushi and set sauce aside.
  • In small bowl, combine 8 tbsp. cold water with 2 tbsp. potato starch. Return the soy/mirin sauce to a boil then lower heat to simmer. Add potato starch gradually to sauce until desired consistency is reached. Remove and let cool.
  • Slice sablefish into 1 in by 2 in pieces.
  • Lightly char one side of fish with small butane torch or sear in hot saucepan briefly.
  • Top fish with drizzle of sauce and sesame seeds.
  • Serve slices over hot steamed rice.
Recipe for unagi sushi eel sashimi
Unagi sushi – Photo by Cloris Ying on Unsplash

The guilt-free unagi sushi recipe

Next time you want to experience unagi sushi, try using sablefish or black cod instead of eel. These are much more sustainable options. We covered unagi (eel) and gindara (sablefish), so you can make educated decisions when deciding on at-home sushi recipes.

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