Grilled glazed Japanese Chicken Yakitori is hard to resist! Chicken and scallions are skewered and glazed with rich sweet and savory sauce as they cook and caramelize on the grill.
Yakitori (Japanese for "grilled chicken") is one of the oldest and most popular traditional Japanese dishes. It's casual fare, enjoyed after work with a beer or for serving at a laid back party. Bite-sized pieces of chicken, 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 something tasty and festive to throw on the grill and enjoy with family and friends, this yakitori chicken recipe is a great choice.
Types of Yakitori
In Japan there are restaurants fully dedicated to yakitori. At these 'Yakitorias' you're likely to find a variety of skewered offerings, with yakitori chicken being the main attraction - not just the thigh and breast meat - all parts of the chicken, from the tongue to the cartilage to the uterus.
- Torinuki: white meat Yakitori chicken
- Negima: Yakitori chicken with Scallions or leeks
- Sunagimo: chicken gizzard
- Reba: chicken liver
- Nankotzu: chicken cartilage
- Shiro: chicken intestine
- Hatsu: chicken heart
- Butabara: pork belly
- Tsukune: chicken meatballs
Yakitori skewers are basted with a savory sweet and tangy sauce called a 'tare' or salt 'shio'. To make the yakitori sauce, combine saki (rice wine), mirin (sweet cooking wine), garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, sugar and soy sauce. The mixture is simmered to thicken and intensify the flavors. You'll use sauce to glaze the yakitori chicken skewers as they cook on the grill.
How To Make This Yakitori Recipe: Chicken & Scallion (Negima)
Boneless skinless chicken thighs are the best choice for yakitori. They're deliciously juicy and flavorful when grilled. Cut them into 1-inch pieces. Trim the ends off the scallions and cut them into 1-inch pieces.
- Make the yakitori sauce: simmer all the ingredients until the sauce is reduced by about a third: soy sauce, mirin, sake, garlic, ginger, sugar and red pepper.
- Skewer the chicken and scallions with one or two pieces of scallion between each piece of chicken.
- Grill the skewers, basting with sauce every couple of minutes, until the chicken is glazed and cooked through.
How To Serve Yakitori
Yakitori can be served on or off the skewers. I like to lay all the skewers on a large tray or platter. They're easy to grab and can be eaten right off the skewer or with the skewer removed.
It's common practice serve condiments with yakitori. Sansho and 7 spice chili powder are traditional accompaniments for sprinkling on top of yakitori. Szechuan pepper also works well. Salt and pepper is also a good choice.
For a deliciously authentic side dish with yakitori, serve this Japanese potato salad. For drinks, go with ice cold Japanese Sake or beer.
If you want to add another yakitori dish to your menu, try this Cooking Light recipe for Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatballs).
Other Japanese recipes to try:
- Teriyaki Salmon Rice Bowl with Spinach and Avocado
- Sukiyaki: Japanese hot pot with Beef, Tofu, Rice Noodles and Vegetables
If you love kebabs, you don’t want to miss this delicious Greek Chicken Souvlaki recipe.