Juicy Yakitori recipe
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Yakitori is one of popular dishes as eaten with Japanese sake or beer in Japan. Enjoy this juicy yakitori with sake or freshly cooked white rice.
1 person made this
- 500g skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce (30ml)
- 1 tablespoon white wine (15ml)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (5ml)
- 1 bundle of spring onion
- Cut the chicken thighs into bite-size pieces. Cut the spring onion into about 3cm long peaces.
- Place the chicken in a bowl, add the soy sauce, white wine and sugar and mix them. Let satand for several hours. If you use a container with vacuum pump, let stand for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 200℃. Brush the oil on the grill rack. Thread three spring onions through bamboo skewer first and a peace of chicken next and repeat 3 or 4 times in this order.
- Put the skewers on the grill rack, grill them near the top of the oven for 8-10 minutes.
- Serve hot.
If you think it is too much trouble to skewer, you can just grill the chicken on the grill rack.
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The Secret to Perfectly Imperfect Yakitori (Japanese-Style Grilled Chicken Skewers) | The Food Lab
Chasing perfect yakitori—Japanese-style grilled skewered chicken—is a lifelong, full-time pursuit for some.
Restaurants in Japan tend to be quite different from those in the States. In the US, most restaurants offer a variety of foods cooked through various methods. You're likely to see grilled foods, sautéed foods, fried foods, boiled foods, steamed foods, et cetera, all on the same menu. In Japan, it's far more common for a restaurant to specialize in one technique. If you're in the mood for tempura, you'd better hope everyone in your party is, because that's all the restaurant is going to serve.
This kind of hyper-specialization leads to a few logical results: The restaurants that specialize in a particular food get really good at it, and, no matter how niche a particular theme is, undoubtedly there will be some kind of innovation involved.
How many different types of grilled chicken can a restaurant serve? Three? Four? Try dozens. And I'm not even talking about jazzing things up with crazy spices or sauces. Most yakitori restaurants will offer only two options for flavoring: salt and white pepper, or a sweet soy-sauce-and-mirin glaze (tare, more generically known in the US as teriyaki sauce). And the cooking technique doesn't vary much, either. Everything served in a yakitori house will inevitably be threaded onto short bamboo skewers and slow-cooked over a specially designed charcoal grill that allows the chef to continuously rotate the meat, keeping it juicy and developing a crust that's perfectly browned, with just the slightest hint of char.
And yet, going to a first-rate yakitori joint in Tokyo is sort of like sidling up to the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Golden Corral: You can be paralyzed by choice. The only difference is that at a yakitori restaurant, you're thinking, "Oh, man, which of these amazing three dozen options do I pick?", and at the Golden Corral, it's more like, "Which of these three dozen options is least likely to make me regret it all in a few hours?"*
*Answers: all of them and none of them, respectively.
You'll find chicken breast, chicken tenderloin, chicken breast cartilage, thighs skewered on their own, each individual section of the wings, chicken-skin skewers, chicken gizzards, and the nubs of crispy fat from the end of the chicken's tail. To give you an idea, I have a Japanese-language book on advanced yakitori techniques from Tokyo's famous TORI+SALON restaurants that runs a full 208 pages. It contains no fewer than 11 different ways to cut and skewer chicken livers and eight different methods for skewering hearts. This is serious, serious business.
It's also, as much Japanese food tends to be, the business of putting in monumentally more effort for fractionally better returns. The fact of the matter is, even without years of specialized training, anyone can make really, really great-tasting yakitori at home. Will it nudge the edge of perfection? Probably not, but it'll be better than anything you get from the pan-Japanese restaurant down the block, serving sushi, tempura, yakitori, and ramen all on the same menu. For my money, the easiest and most forgiving yakitori staple is negima: juicy chicken thigh alternately threaded onto a skewer with sections of scallion. Because thighs are naturally high in connective tissue and fat, they end up juicy even if you don't precisely measure temperature as they cook.
In the TORI+SALON book, there are a total of 18 photographs and steps devoted to showing you how to properly trim and cut a chicken thigh for their negima, followed by another four photographs of correct skewering technique and a further four for instructions on how they grill it.
We're going to find our way to delicious results with, oh, let's say five steps, and one of them is optional!
I’m thrilled to introduce you to this yakitori recipe just in time for the 4th of July. But truth be told, with the oven and grilling option, I hop this becomes a year round favorite.
Oh, how I love the yakitori, let me count the ways…
- Easy. Yakitori is easy to make with a marinade that doubles as the tare sauce – just whisk a few ingredients together and done and done!
- Simple ingredients. Yakitori uses pantry staples so you can make it any time. I’ve even included a swap for Japanese rice wine if you don’t keep it stocked.
- Economical. Yakitori is typically made from economical chicken thighs.
- FLAVOR! This isn’t just straight teriyaki sauce, but complex, multi-faceted tare sauce elevated by ginger, garlic and Asian Sweet Chili.
- Make ahead. You can marinate and skewer the yakitori in advance then just grill when ready.
- Versatile. You can cook yakitori on the grill or in the oven – instructions included for both!
- JUICY and so TENDER. The use of chicken things AND the marinade results in crazy juicy, tender, flavorful chicken.
- Ultimate appetizer. These elegant skewers make fantastic finger food that are easily manageable by guests.
- Ultimate dinner: While chicken yakitori is traditionally an appetizer, we like to serve it for dinner, because we like to till up just on this chicken delight. And as a dinner recipe, you can make it ALL the time.
- Crowd pleaser. Whenever I serve these chicken skewers, everyone gobbles them up and asks for the recipe!
- Customizable. You can use any part of the chicken and even add vegetables such as traditional scallions or leeks or anything else: zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, asparagus, pineapple, etc.
- Special Diet friendly: Yakitori is low carb, paleo, and can be made gluten free.
- 2 pounds (1kg) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch dice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground white or black pepper
- 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup (120ml) teriyaki sauce (see note)
In a large bowl, toss chicken pieces with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Thread 2 to 3 pieces of chicken onto a skewer (enough to add up to around 1/2 to 3/4 inch when pressed tightly together), then thread a segment of scallion onto skewer. Continue alternating every few pieces of chicken with scallion until chicken and scallions are used up, using as many skewers as necessary. Make sure all the meat and scallions are tightly packed.
Light 2/3 chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the medium-high heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
Place chicken skewers directly over the hot portion of the grill, cover, and cook, turning frequently, until chicken is well browned, scallions are tender, and a piece of chicken looks cooked when removed and cut in half with a knife, about 10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper 2 to 3 times during the cooking process.
Brush chicken and scallions with teriyaki glaze and cook for 30 seconds. Turn, brush second side with teriyaki, and cook for 30 seconds longer. Remove chicken from grill and allow to rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Brush with additional glaze and serve immediately.
The start of the 2020 Meatwave season is still a few months off, but I can't help already planning and getting excited for that day. Part of the reason I'm jumping the gun a little with plotting recipes is that I decided to make the kickoff a Tiki-influence affair after a similar cookout last year was one of the most fun events we've ever hosted. I had a few wing recipes in contention to grill up that day, but these yakitori wings won out the others mainly because they made use of a tare sauce I was already producing as a finishing glaze for bacon-wrapped mochi. Just like that mochi, these didn't disappoint with their addictive sweet and savory profile that made going for seconds and thirds a must!
The magic in these wings all lies within the sauce. If you're not familiar with tare, just think along the lines of teriyaki, but with more depth. Unlike teriyaki though, there isn't really one master recipe for tare because part of its defining characteristic is that each one can be different, tailored to the tastes of the chef making it. Some tares even start as the foundation of new ones, a little like a bread starter, so they become increasingly funky and more complex over time. The recipe I use is one I developed for Serious Eats a long time ago that's made of fairly accessible ingredients and has served me well throughout the years, so it continues to stand as my base for when I'm developing something fit for sharing.
For the wings, I went with my standard method, which probably sounds like a broken record at this point to loyal Meatwave followers. For those new here though, the process may sound a little strange and long, but it makes for incredibly crispy and juicy wings on the grill. It starts with coating the chicken in baking powder and salt, and this time I tossed in a little white pepper to compliment the flavor of the tare as well.
The baking powder is what helps create a textured skin that holds sauces really well, but to get that extra crunch, the exterior needs to be dried out before grilling. To do that, I arranged the wings on a wire rack set in a baking sheet, then place the entire thing in the fridge overnight. By morning time, the once wet looking wings looked dry with skin more taught than when they started.
Since wings take a long time to cook, a two-zone fire is called for. This is when all the coals are situated on one side of the charcoal grate and the other side is left empty. I placed the wings on the "cool" side of the grill and covered. When using a freshly lit batch of coals, the temperature in the grill should clock in somewhere around 450°F, and this high heat is another reason the skins get so crispy.
After 45 minutes of the cooking, the wings were well browned and had a crackling crunch to them. So I then applied the sauce by moving the chicken to a large bowl, pouring in some tare, and tossing to coat.
Then back on the grill these went to allow for the sauce to bake down and caramelize a bit to further intensify the flavor. After just a minute or two over direct heat, they were done, so I plated them up and garnished with sesame seeds and scallions.
Sweet and savory kind of defines Tiki-type of foods, and these wings delivered that flavor profile and then some. Normally it would be teriyaki adorning all sorts of meats and veggies at a Tiki affair, but these wings definitely took things a step further than that with a foundational salty sweetness thanks to the soy sauce and mirin base, but layered on a nice tang, spice, and bite from the other ingredients in the tare sauce which exemplified why this particular Meatwave was so great&mdasheverything was kind of like Tiki food taken to the next level. After writing this, it's getting even harder to wait for that first cookout this year, where I have even more interesting things planned. how do dry curry wings sound?
- 1 cup mirin
- ⅓ cup sake (rice wine)
- ½ cup superfine sugar
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 pounds boned, skinned chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-in. pieces
In a medium saucepan, combine mirin, sake, sugar, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until sugar has dissolved and sauce has thickened slightly, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Put chicken in a large bowl, pour marinade over it, and turn to coat. Chill at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for medium heat (350° to 450° you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 5 to 7 seconds). Thread chicken onto skewers. Transfer marinade to a small saucepan and boil over high heat until it has the consistency of barbecue sauce, about 15 minutes.
Grill skewers (cover if using gas), basting with thickened marinade and turning frequently to prevent scorching, until chicken is caramelized and no longer pink in center (cut to test), about 6 minutes. Serve with remaining sauce on the side.
Yakitori Seasonings & Ingredients
Yakitori is typically made either with just salt, or basted with a tare sauce made of soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar. I've included options for both versions in this recipe.
Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine used often in cooking. I love to use it in marinades and stir fried to add a touch of sweet. If you don't have it already, you can buy it HERE (affiliate link).
Chicken thighs are used in this recipe as the dark meat stays juicy and tender on the grill. You can also use chicken hearts, gizzards, liver, breast, or any other part of the chicken. The cooking process will remain the same.
Assorted Yakitori Recipe
Assorted Yakitori is grilled skewered chicken and various vegetables dipped in a sweet and salty Teriyaki-like sauce or simply served with salt. Yakitori is a very popular appetizer at Yakitori bars and other bar-type restaurants in Japan. It can be a nice dinner as well if there are more vegetables and especially when served with rice and Miso Soup.
Although our original Yakitori recipe is pan-fried for convenience, many Yakitori bars grill their chicken on a charcoal grill, which gives nice smells of grilled meat and a bit of smoke. If you cook on a barbecue grill with or without charcoal, your Yakitori becomes almost restaurant grade. What we did here was grilling on a gas grill that let the meat and vegetables get a nice brown color and the extra flavor of barbecue.
If you like leaner meat, you can certainly use chicken breasts instead of thighs. We rolled up and skewered thinly sliced pork belly strips. That is not a typical Yakitori, but it is just a fun variety and easy addition. For vegetables, we used Naganegi long white onion, Shiitake mushrooms, and shishito peppers. You could also try asparagus and cherry tomatoes. The seasoning for Yakitori is, of course, Yakitori Sauce, but we also sprinkle salt and squeeze lemon juice over some vegetables for a fresher taste. However, if you like Yakitori Sauce, go ahead and drench over everything.
Cooking Yakitori on a barbecue grill is great in summer. If you are tired of regular barbecue, try a Yakitori assortment. Adults will be happy to have great appetizers with cold drinks, and the young can have a wonderful dinner with meat and vegetables. Your whole family can enjoy it!
How To Serve Juicy Burgers
Follow these tips, incorporate the secret ingredients, and you’ll end up with perfectly seared, juicy burgers every time.
I serve mine over lettuce with some tomato, avocado, and whole grain mustard most of the time. But, I also love to add cheese and low carb ketchup, too. Sometimes I even add sugar-free barbecue sauce.
And even though this blog is low carb, I’m sure some readers may not be – so it goes without saying that you could easily add your favorite bun. If you’re looking for a low carb bun option, try the flattened version of my almond flour biscuits or simple low carb hamburger buns.
Who’s ready to add this juicy burger recipe to their barbecue?
Yakitori is grilled skewered chicken dipped in a Teriyaki-like sauce. It is a very popular appetizer at Yakitori bars and other bar-type restaurants in Japan.
Yakitori could be a dish at your dinner table, but it is more like the food you eat with drinks at bars. A lot of Yakitori bars grill their chicken on a charcoal grill, and the tasty smells of grilled meat and smoke come out to the street to attract customers. People in Japan like to go out to drink after work, and Yakitori bars are one of the most popular places to have a drink.
Yakitori bars serve very basic type of Yakitori like ours, but also there are a wide variety of skewered items there. They use every part of a chicken for Yakitori. They not only use chicken breast and thighs, but skin, cartilage, hearts and … well, everything else. Yakitori is often eaten with Tare (thick sweetened soy sauce), but simple Shio (salt) seasoned Yakitori is also very popular.
If you live in Japan and would like Yakitori at home for dinner, you may certainly make it however, you can also easily get it at many places there. Chicken butcher shops often have Yakitori to-go that is grilled right at a little corner of the shop. Supermarket delis also have Yakitori on-the-go just like roasted and fried chicken at supermarkets in the US. If that’s even too much trouble :-), you can stock up with canned Yakitori (not skewered) to satisfy your spontaneous Yakitori cravings.
Many of us live outside Japan but would like to eat Yakitori from time to time…. Make Yakitori on a barbeque grill if you can that’s the best. Charcoal grill especially gives it a wonderful flavor. When you think It is a little too much work to start a fire for a weekday dinner or anytime at all, you’re in luck, we made a recipe using a frying pan. It is so easy to make!
We have 2 flavorings for Yakitori here: Shio (salt) and Tare (sauce). We like both, and hope you do too! Just make sure your beer is super cold before you finish making it.