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The Dish: Baby Eels
Where to Get It: Sushiko; 5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; (301) 961-1644; sushikorestaurants.com
Price: Available only at the chef’s counter as a part of the tasting menu, $90 and up
What It Is: Known as noresore in western Japan, these infant oceanic eels can cost up to $20 an ounce from specialty Japanese importers. They’re dipped for one second in boiling water and then plunged quickly into ice water. “You want to get out the fishiness,” says Handry Tjan, who shares executive chef duties with his older brother, Piter Tjan. They’re mixed with a punchy sauce of yuzu juice, vinegar, and soy. A shiso leaf, grated daikon radish, and shichimi togarashi—a blend of chili peppers and seasonings—are the final touch.
What It Tastes Like: The eels offer more of a textural experience than a deeply pronounced flavor. The clear, four-inch-long beady eyed beasts chew like slender, slippery gummies. The heat of the chilies and tang of the sauce take precedence in the dish, though there’s a lingering umami richness from the noresore themselves.
The Story: “Some people freak out at first,” admits Tjan, but everyone tries it. The chef is a big admirer of the little eels, so he’s hoping to convert some of his diners into fellow fans. Only sporadically available for a short window in the spring, they’re considered a prized delicacy in Japan. Call ahead to see if they’re available.
How to Eat It: Save the shiso leaf for last. The minty green is the perfect palate cleanser.
Photo by Nevin Martell