Food Network Kitchen’s Vegan Unagi Donburi, as seen on Food Network.
Recipe courtesy of Kathleen Brennan for Food Network Kitchen

Vegan Unagi Donburi

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 25 min
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
This is a super-tasty vegan take on the beloved Japanese dish unadon--grilled eel in a sweet, sticky sauce served over steamed white rice. ("Don," short for donburi, indicates it’s served in a rice bowl.) Here, eggplant stands in for eel. The recipe is quick and easy to make and a real crowd pleaser with non-vegans, too. Peeling the eggplant means there’s no tough skin to cut (or chew) through while you’re eating it, especially convenient if you are using chopsticks, but feel free to skip that step, if you like. Sansho pepper is a classic topping for unadon and is also good on the eggplant.



  1. Stir together the mirin, soy sauce, sugar, sake, ginger and half of the scallions in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium heat until hot. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with oil, add them to the skillet and cook, occasionally pressing down on each slice with tongs or a spatula, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip the slices and cook, occasionally pressing down on each slice with tongs or a spatula, until golden brown on the other side, about 3 minutes more.
  3. Pour the reserved sauce into the skillet, lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the eggplant is almost tender and the sauce is reduced by about half, about 3 minutes. Flip and simmer, uncovered, until just tender and the sauce resembles a thick glaze, about 2 minutes more. Baste and remove from the heat. (If the sauce gets too thick during the cooking process, stir in a little water. Conversely, if the eggplant is tender, but the sauce is too thin, plate the eggplant and continue to reduce the sauce.)
  4. Divide the rice among 4 bowls and top with the eggplant slices, slightly overlapping. Drizzle with extra sauce, then sprinkle with sansho pepper and sesame seeds, if using, and the remaining scallions.