Nothing compares to the experience of eating yakitori in Japan. Known as yakitori-ya, these dimly lit, smoke-filled eateries are full of energy and thick with the scent of juicy chicken grilled over hot coals. Literally meaning ‘grilled chicken’, yakitori restaurants and izakayas serve an array of skewered chicken pieces, ranging from approachable cuts such as breast and thigh (toriniku) to more challenging options such as liver (reba), skin (kawa), heart (hato) and cartilage (nankotsu). As the chicken grills, the yakitori chefs anoint each skewer with a delicious marinade known as yakitori sauce.
Thankfully, you don’t have to hop on a plane to Japan each time a yakitori craving strikes. Made of soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake, yakitori sauce is your secret weapon for creating sticky grilled chicken. Keep an eye out for yakitori sauce in the Asian food aisle of your local supermarket, then use it to add a sweet, sticky, salty glaze to a range of grilled meats.
The whole family will love this easy yakitori chicken recipe. Simply thread diced chicken thigh and spring onion onto bamboo skewers, then brush with yakitori sauce and chargrill until tender and lightly charred at the edges. You can make your own yakitori sauce, or pick up a bottle from your local supermarket for an even easier version. Perfect as a midweek dinner with steamed rice and salad on the side, or serve these negima yakitori chicken skewers at your next barbecue.
If you want to broaden your yakitori repertoire, then make a batch of tsukune – these juicy chicken meatballs are flavoured with spring onion and ginger, speared onto skewers, then glazed with yakitori sauce and chargrilled until cooked through. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with tonkatsu sauce. If you really want to stick to tradition, serve with a raw egg yolk for dipping.
Or even cure those winter blues with Pan Fried Chicken Thigh in Yakitori Sauce, tonight!
You’re not limited to chicken when it comes to using yakitori sauce. The broader term for skewered dishes in Japan is kushiyaki. Try one of these tantalizing kushiyaki combinations, glazed or marinated with yakitori sauce:
• Sliced beef steak, shiitake mushrooms and spring onions
• Thinly sliced pork belly with spring onions, known as butabara
• Asparagus wrapped in bacon, known as asuparabekon
• Bundles of enoki mushrooms wrapped in thinly sliced pork or streaky bacon, called enoki maki
For more authentic Japanese flavourings, discover why tonkatsu sauce is a kitchen essential.
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