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Completely Farm-Bred Unagi, a World First 204

Posted by timothy
from the hey-hajime-at-mashiko! dept.
JoshuaInNippon writes "Japanese scientists at the National Research Institute of Aquaculture, Fisheries Research Agency have reported that they successfully completed an artificial cultivation cycle for unagi, or eel — a world first. Unagi is a traditional delicacy in Japan, and can commonly be found in baked form at sushi restaurants. The fish has long been caught either matured, or still young and then fattened on farms. Sadly, as a result, natural stocks of unagi have plummeted in recent years. However, the research news indicates a future method to completely farm breed the tasty creature in mass quantity. Good news for sushi lovers, Japanese businesses, and wild eel alike."
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Completely Farm-Bred Unagi, a World First

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  • Maybe, maybe not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:40PM (#31796542)

    Good news for sushi-lovers, Japanese businesses, and wild eel alike.

    In the US Pacific Northwest, it has been found that farm raising salmon significantly hurt the wild populations.
    Some of those farmed fish can escape affect the gene pool!

  • right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:54PM (#31796622) Journal
    And what will these eel eat? Oh, that's right - fish. Which have to be caught and then fed to the eels...

    Salmon farm fishing is a disaster. Shrimp are not much better. I don't know how the tilapia production is fairing. Tilapia are not predators like salmon, so I imagine it might be better, but I have no idea.

    Answer: stop eating fish. Sorry.

  • Unagi or Anago? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:33PM (#31797224)

    The OP mentions sushi and unagi. Unagi is traditionally served on a bowl rice in a donburi style, not as sushi.
    You shouldn't be able to find unagi in a Japanese sushi restaurant in Japan. You should find anago. One is from a river .. one is from the sea.
    Western sushi shops sell unagi since anago is rarely exported from japan.

  • Re:Unagi or Anago? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rworne (538610) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:00PM (#31797362) Homepage

    Funny you mention that.

    Unagi is horribly expensive ($18/US per package) if you want the Japanese-sourced unagi. The Chinese unagi is much cheaper ($4-5/US per package), but there have been problems with the chemicals, antibiotics, and other crap they feed them.

    Anago is readily available here in Los Angeles at a moderate price, but unagi kabayaki is definitely where its at.

  • by Shag (3737) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:25PM (#31797466) Homepage

    Unagi is a key ingredient in Unagi Pai, which I think is the yummiest cookie made with ground-up eel bones in the whole world. :)

  • Re:right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc,famine&gmail,com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:29PM (#31797488) Homepage Journal
    Which is why they taste like water....

    Seriously, I know that tilapia are "environmentally friendly". However, they taste like shit. Give me pretty much any other fish, and I'll be happy. Tilapia are the shittiest fish you can get.

    This kills me, because I'd like to be environmentally friendly, but when given the choice of "tastes like water, and falls apart", and is fucking amazing [wikipedia.org] I'm hard pressed to want to choose tilapia. I want to be good, but tilapia makes me hate fish, more than any other fish. It's so sad that the good-for-the-environment-fish taste like crap.
  • Re:right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by an unsound mind (1419599) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:54PM (#31797600)

    Except you use far more land growing the feed for the animals than growing the vegetables to replace the meat in a human diet.

    Vegetarian diet requires a lot of knowledge of nutrition to make work, but it is far more energy-efficient. Those animals don't subsist on air.

    Meat, however, tastes good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @12:28AM (#31797962)

    For those that don't know it (which I assume is over 99% of the population here on /.), Unagi Pai (Eel Pie) is not what it sounds like. Neither is eel a major ingredient, nor is it really a pie. It's a Japanese cookie made and sold mainly around Hamanako, which is famous for it's Unagi. The whole idea being that "If we're gonna make some confection that will sell, we might as well add a twist" and thus just a very small volume of eel bone powder is added to what is otherwise a sweet baked pie shell cookie. And yes, it does taste quite good.

    That said, baking eel bones to a crispy crunchy texture makes for a very, very nice cracker. As disgusting as it may sound to most people that haven't grown up with fish being a major part of their diet (= just not very accustomed), it actually tastes nothing like sea food. I would actually compare it more to crispy bacon, with less fat, and more crisp.

  • Re:right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheLink (130905) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @01:16AM (#31798104) Journal
    > Vegetarian diet requires a lot of knowledge of nutrition to make work, but it is far more energy-efficient. Those animals don't subsist on air.

    But not all land is good for growing plants that humans can eat and thrive on.

    > Meat, however, tastes good.

    And a diet that includes fish is scientifically proven to be good for you.

    Humans aren't that great at converting ALA to DHA. You can't easily get those healthy long chained omega acids from a vegetarian diet, without supplements.
  • by TheLink (130905) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @03:40AM (#31798470) Journal
    > Just don't think about what it's made of and you'll be fine.

    I dunno, just looking at the haggis recipe makes me want to try it - looks tasty to me...

    I suspect that in my country (Malaysia), they often have to import MSM and similar stuff to make nuggets, sausages etc - because over here stuff like liver, gizzards, lungs, stomach etc can just be packed just the way beef cuts and chicken wings are, and sold at supermarkets. People actually buy that stuff "as is". No need for disguise...

    A fair number of people here know the difference in taste and textures of cooked liver, heart, lungs, pancreas, stomach (apparently there are different "kitchen" names for the different stomachs too ) etc.
  • by An Ominous Cow Erred (28892) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @05:16AM (#31798716)

    Actually I should clarify, because I wasn't being quite honest or accurate in my previous post. The invasive species in the South East U.S. is a different species than the eels in question in the article. The pest fish that escaped the farms is the Asian Swamp Eel. While it is often sold as "unagi" and is somewhat analogous in flavor, the specific eel in question is the Japanese Eel, which does not live in the Western Hemisphere. The Asian Swamp Eel is actually from a different taxonomic order.

    The closest analog in the Western Hemisphere is the American Eel, which is also endangered, partly due to the invasion of the Asian Swamp Eel.

    That said, the Asian Swamp Eel works perfectly fine in similar roles, and is quite tasty. Unfortunately you can't really call it "unagi" in a respectable Japanese fish market, even if it's called that when sold in many fish markets outside of Japan.

  • Re:right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NoMaster (142776) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @08:27AM (#31799146) Homepage Journal

    And my point is that while wild-caught or naturally-occurring *anything* might be better for you, and sticking to foods that aren't intensively farmed is a fair enough personal choice to make, there's no way in hell a world without highly developed agriculture or aquaculture can support even the current 6.5 billion+ people.

    On top of that, I'd be wary of any claims that certain fisheries are 'sustainable' - even with the current state of ecological modelling, there's a dire lack of knowledge and understanding of the totality of factors and processes that drive fish abundance. You've just got to Google 'fisheries collapse' to see all the examples of what were thought to be 'sustainable' fishing practices that turned out wrong - sardines, pilchards, salmon, Atlantic Cod, etc, etc, etc, not to mention the cascade effect on other species that depended upon them. The Beverton-Holt model isn't all it's cracked up to be, and it's certainly not an accurate model of even a single fishery's ecosystem...

    Oh, and while you're Googling, you might want to check how your belief about the Japanese being "the ones who do all the illegal fishing in international waters crap" stand up to scrutiny. You'd be surprised...

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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