This dish is probably not a common dish in Izakayas. Probably real eel is much more popular. I make this dish for our vegitarian friends but we also like it. Obviously, this is different from real eel but looks similar to and tastes slightly like real eel used in Japanese dishes. It also has a pleasing texture. It is made of tofu, miso, and sesame paste and is completely vegetarian.
Use one block of firm or “momen-goshi” tofu, drain, and crumble into small pieces. In a food processor or a Japanses “suribachi
” add, 3 tbs of red miso, 3 tsp sugar or honey, 1 tbs of sesame paste or tahini (or make your own from roasted sesame seeds), 3 tbs of flour (all purpose), 1/2 tsp grated ginger root, and mix, add the crumbled tofu and mix or process until smooth consistency is reached. Additional flour and/or water may be needed to make the consistency like spreadable soft cream cheese. Cut a whole nori sheet into half and then cut the half into 4 small rectangular sheets. Spread the tofu mixture on the sheet of nori in a 1/3 inch thick layer. Make sure all the nori surface is covered. Take a fork and make indentations like seen above to emulate a real eel dish. Deep fry it in medium hot oil with the nori side down for several minutes. (Later addition: you can cook this dish with slightly more oil than used in regular sauteing – “shallow frying” – with good results.
Meanwhile make an eel “kabayaki” 蒲焼 sauce. Add 1/3 cup of soy sauce in a small sauce pan and add up to equal amount of sugar (I use much less) and heat through and dissolve the sugar but do not boil. Brush the sauce on the “tofu” side of the surface, sprinkle “sansho” powders and serve. Here I served this as a mock “eel donburi” or “unadon” 鰻丼 with a bed of rice and added chopped chives. I used the sauce sparingly but my wife used more sauce which she drizzled on rice as well.