This dish is inspired by the Japanese unagidon, but featuring Sarangani Bay’s Bangus Belly marinated in a sweet-salty unagi sauce. Amazing with rice!
A little known fact about me: I love fish. More than pork, more than chicken, fish is where it’s at. Bangus is actually one of my faves. Before I was contacted by this brand for a possible collaboration, I had already tried Sarangani Bay bangus out of curiosity. My first impressions were actually quite good. Their bangus looked very fresh despite being in the frozen section, and it tasted good too.
Since we buy our fish weekly in the wet market, we tend to buy frozen, vacuum sealed sorts very rarely. This collab is a nice reminder that such a brand as Sarangani Bay exists, and that buying frozen fish is not always a bad thing. More than the quality bangus I can see with my own eyes, Sarangani Bay also has a pretty solid background with regards to their practices in fish cultivation.
Sarangani Bay has the largest bangus growing and processing operation in the country. In their 400-hectare ponds, their fish and seafood enjoy ample room to grow. Paddle wheels also aerate the water in these ponds, ensuring healthy oxygen levels that keep the fish in tip-top shape.
Alongside their ponds, they also carefully maintain sea cages that meet the maximum standards in terms of environmental safety, as well as the safety of the fish they cultivate. Together, the ponds and sea cages regularly yield 6,000 metric tons of clean and healthy fish and shrimp every season.
When you look at the fish inside Sarangani Bay’s vacuum sealed packs, you can see pretty clearly that the fish were of good quality when they went into the package. You can read more detailed information about Sarangani Bay’s process of harvesting and packaging their bangus and other seafood on their site.
Sarangani Bay sent me three variations of their prime bangus, but today we’ll be using the bangus belly to make a Bangus & Eggplant Donburi that is so easy but oh so tasty. Whenever we make this dish, there are never any leftovers. The chances of eating more rice than you intend to is pretty big when you have this sitting on top.
This recipe I adapted from Just One Cookbook is originally used for eel, but it works equally well with bangus too. Most unagi or eel come marinated in sauce already, so we will have to marinade the bangus in the sauce in advance. To do that, we first cook our sweet-salty sauce and boil it down until it thickens somewhat.
Allow it to cool until it’s barely warm to the touch. Take about half of the sauce and brush it generously all over your thawed Sarangani Bay Bangus Belly, front and back, and then pour some into your marinading dish to soak the fish in. You will want to keep this in the fridge overnight to make sure the flavors are absorbed by the bangus belly.
The next day, the bangus will start to look a bit like unagi. Now we’re ready to assemble the rest of the ingredients, which frankly is just eggplant and some Japanese seasonings. You want to slice the eggplant into sticks and the Sarangani Bay Bangus Belly into about 1-inch pieces. (I also prepped some green onions for topping later.)
After that, it’s really just a matter of throwing everything into a pan. First you want to cook the eggplant until it starts to brown, and then add the bangus. Finally, just add in the seasonings and some of the sauce you prepared earlier. Carefully mix everything until coated in the sauce. Because we don’t want to overcook anything, we just let this come to a simmer.
That’s pretty much all there is to it! You can either dish it out into its own plate, or serve it individually as donburi or rice topping. You will have some extra sauce, which you can absolutely top your rice with. Try this recipe with Sarangani Bay’s bangus and let me know what you think!
Bangus Belly & Eggplant Donburi
Serves 4 to 6, depending on appetite
For the marinade
- ½ cup mirin
- 3 Tablespoons sake
- 4 Tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 package Sarangani Bay Boneless Bangus Belly, thawed in fridge overnight
For the main dish
- 1 medium to large eggplant
- 1½ Tablespoons neutral-flavored oil like vegetable or canola
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 2 Tablespoons sake
- ½ cup sauce, from above recipe
- Steamed rice and green onions, to serve
Make the sauce
- In a small saucepan over medium high heat, whisk together mirin, sake, sugar. Add soy sauce and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to the low and continue simmering for about 20 minutes. The sauce is about ready once it starts to form a lot of bubbles on the surface and has reduced visibly. It will still be fairly runny but will thicken a little as it cools.
- Transfer sauce to a container with a lid but leave it open to cool for about 30 minutes. Once the sauce is cool to the touch, take about half of it and use to marinade the bangus belly. Brush sauce liberally onto the fish and allow the bangus to soak in the sauce. Cover with clingwrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Store the remaining sauce in the airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftovers will keep up to 2 weeks.
To cook the dish
- Once ready to cook, slice the eggplants into sticks about 1 inch thick and 2 inches long. Slice the marinated bangus into half by the belly and slice again into 1.5-inch-wide pieces.
- In a non-stick frying pan, heat oil on medium high. Add the eggplant and cook until they start to turn brown. Add in the bangus, then add water and sake. Immediately cover with a lid and cook for 1 minute.
- Lower the heat. Remove the lid and add the sauce. Carefully mix the eggplant and bangus until evenly coated with the sauce. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes while you grab your bowls of rice or serving bowl.
- Serve the dish immediately, preferably in donburi style over rice. Top with some green onions and enjoy!
Full disclosure: Though I received some products from Sarangani Bay, I received no compensation for writing this post. All opinions stated above are my own.