Yakitori is one of the oldest and most popular traditional Japanese dishes. It’s a casual dish, great for after work with a beer or for a laid back party. Bite-sized pieces of chicken, chicken parts, meat or vegetables are skewered and cooked over a charcoal grill or an open flame, and glazed with a sweet teriyaki sauce. If you’re looking for a tasty festive recipe – something to throw on the grill and enjoy with family and friends, chicken yakitori is a great choice!
In Japan there are restaurants totally devoted to yakitori. At these ‘Yakitorias’ you’re likely to find a variety of skewered offerings, with chicken being the main attraction – not just the meat – all the parts of the chicken, from the tongue to the cartilage to the uterus.
Negima: chicken with Scallions or leeks
Sunagimo: chicken gizzard
Reba: chicken liver
Nankotzu: chicken cartilage
Shiro: chicken intenstine
Butabara: pork belly
Tsukune: chicken meatballs
The skewers are flavored with a tangy sauce called a ‘tare’ or salt ‘shio’. Condiments like sansho and 7 spice chili powder are traditional accompaniments for sprinkling on top.
For a deliciously authentic side dish, make a Japanese potato salad.
Add another delicious yakitori dish to your menu with this top-rated Cooking Light recipe for Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatballs).
- 8 12-inch or 16 8-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for ½ hour or more
- 1 cup saki
- ½ cup mirin
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- ½ cup (regular) soy sauce
- Chicken and Scallions
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized (3/4-inch) pieces
- 1 bunch scallions (the thicker the better) cut crosswise, into ¾ inch pieces
- Optional garnish:
- Ground sansho pepper
- Japanese 7 spice powder
- * if you can't find sancho or 7 spice, you may have better luck finding szechuan pepper. In a pinch, a sprinkling of salt and fresh ground black pepper will do.
- Heat the grill. Thread chicken and scallion pieces onto the skewers, alternately
- Make the Sauce: In a small pot combine the saki, mirin, garlic, ginger, red pepper, sugar and soy sauces. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until sauce is reduced by about one quarter.
- Grill the skewers for 2 minutes. Brush with sauce and turn, brush with sauce on the other side. Grill for 5-8 minutes more, brushing with sauce every 2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and glazed.
- Serve yakitori with sansho and 7 spice to sprinkle on top.