I recently shared this fun Eggplant Eel Unagi recipe over on TikTok, and included it in a YouTube video sharing everything I ate in a week. You really only need 5 ingredients to make this tender, faux eel smothered in a delicious unagi sauce. In my opinion, unagi is all about the sauce, which is actually very easy to make both vegan and gluten free. Eggplant is both meaty and soft enough to serve as the perfect faux eel so when paired together, you get a very realistic experience. 

Eggplant Eel Unagi Veggiekins Blog

How to Enjoy Eggplant Eel Unagi

You can enjoy this Eggplant Eel Unagi over rice, donburi style (Japanese rice bowl), or chop into small pieces to create nigiri (sushi pieces). If you’re not a fan of eggplant, you can also just make the sauce and enjoy it with… well everything! It’s absolutely delicious, trust me. This eel unagi recipe is vegan, gluten free and can be made refined sugar free and oil free.

Eggplant Eel Unagi Veggiekins Blog

What’s in this Eggplant Eel Unagi?

  • Japanese/Chinese Eggplant: The base of our recipe today. Using most eggplant varieties will work, but I find that Japanese and Chinese eggplant is the perfect size for this recipe.
  • Gluten free soy sauce or tamari: This is a key ingredient to making unagi sauce, and to make it gluten free, I use gluten free soy sauce or tamari. You can also use liquid aminos.
  • Coconut sugar or maple syrup: To sweeten and help thicken the sauce, I opted for coconut sugar, but you can also use agave or maple syrup.
  • Mirin: To finish the sauce, a little bit of mirin.

You’ll also need salt to tenderize your eggplant, and you can garnish with sesame seeds, green onions or toppings of choice.

Eggplant Eel Unagi Veggiekins Blog

How to Make Eggplant Eel Unagi

Making eggplant unagi is actually really easy! Start by peeling your eggplant, then slice lengthwise into planks.

Eggplant Eel Unagi Veggiekins Blog

We’re generously salting our eggplant planks which helps to tenderize firm eggplant, remove a little bit of bitterness and make the texture a lot more palatable. Then, you’ll want to rinse off excess salt and pat dry with a kitchen towel.

To season, we’re braising the eggplant with our marinade, which slowly thickens up as the sugars start to caramelize.

If you like this recipe, try…

If you try this recipe out, tag me on Instagram @veggiekins so I can see your delicious re-creations and feature them! As always, I love when you share your reviews in the comments below, and if you make any fun substitutions, let me know how it worked out below too.

Eggplant Eel Unagi Veggiekins Blog

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Eggplant Eel Unagi Veggiekins Blog

Eggplant “Eel” Unagi (vegan, gluten free)

  • Author: Remy
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


5 ingredient Eggplant “Eel” Unagi, a great alternative to conventional eel with all of the flavour you love! This easy recipe is vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free and oil free.


Units Scale

optional garnish

  • green onions
  • sesame seeds
  • nori


  1. Begin by preparing the eggplant. Remove the skin using a veggie peeler and then slice lengthwise into 1/4″ thick planks. If you’re enjoying as donburi, you can keep your slices long, otherwise, cut planks into roughly 4-5″ long pieces to enjoy as sushi!
  2. Generously sprinkle salt over both sides of every eggplant piece and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes.  Rinse off any excess salt and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  3. Cook both sides of your eggplant pieces in a large pan with a touch of neutral oil, just until lightly golden. Then make your sauce by combining tamari, mirin and coconut sugar and adding to the pan.
  4. On low heat, braise your eggplant in the sauce until it starts to reduce down and becomes slightly viscous.
  5. As an optional step, finish your “eel” by torching with a blowtorch.
  6. To serve, top your rice with your eggplant pieces, brush or spoon over leftover glaze from the pan and top with green onions and sesame seeds if desired.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: main dishes
  • Method: baking, boiling

Keywords: japanese, vegan, eggplant, sushi, sauce, gluten free, refined sugar free, oil free




Filed under: Eat, Gluten Free, Main Dishes, Oil Free, Sauces and Dressings

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BY Remy • September 21, 2020

Eggplant “Eel” Unagi (vegan, gluten free)

Eggplant Eel Unagi Veggiekins Blog

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  1. Nicole says:
    So delicious!! Made a vegan sushi bowl and was so good. Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

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Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.

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COPYRIGHT © 2020 Veggiekins    ☼    Website by Sunday Stories

COPYRIGHT © 2020 Veggiekins   ☼   Website by Sunday Stories