Yakitori is a classic Japanese dish that features skewered pieces of chicken that are grilled to perfection over charcoal. The word “yakitori” comes from “yaki” which means “grilled” and “tori” which means “bird” or “chicken”. This dish is a popular street food in Japan and can also be found in restaurants and izakayas, where it is often served as an appetizer or a main course.
Yakitori is a simple yet flavorful dish that is loved for its tender and juicy chicken, crispy skin, and smoky flavor. The chicken is typically seasoned with salt or a sweet and savory sauce made with soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. The skewers are grilled over charcoal, which gives them a distinctive smoky flavor and a crispy exterior.
In Japan, there are many different types of yakitori, each with its own unique flavor and preparation method. Some popular variations include Negima (chicken and scallion skewers), Tsukune (chicken meatballs), and Momo (chicken thigh skewers).
Making Yakitori at home is relatively easy and requires only a few simple ingredients. By following the recipe and tips outlined above, you can create your own delicious and authentic Yakitori that is sure to impress your family and friends with its authentic Japanese flavors. So join me as we explore the history and ingredients of Yakitori, and discover how to make this delicious and flavorful Japanese grilled chicken skewer athome.
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 4-5 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 2 tablespoons sake
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
- Vegetable oil, for grilling
- In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, grated ginger, and grated garlic to make the marinade.
- Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and stir to coat. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Thread the chicken and green onion pieces onto the soaked bamboo skewers, alternating between the two.
- Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the grill grates with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.
- Place the skewers on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the chicken is cooked through and slightly charred.
- Brush the skewers with the remaining marinade as they cook.
- Remove the skewers from the grill and transfer to a serving plate.
- Garnish withchopped green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.
- Serve hot with steamed rice and your favorite side dishes.
Note: If you prefer a sweeter Yakitori, you can adjust the amount of sugar in the marinade. You can also use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs, but make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly as breast meat cooks faster.
- Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs: Chicken thighs are the best cut of meat for Yakitori because they are tender and juicy, and hold up well on the skewers.
- Soak the bamboo skewers in water: Soaking the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before using them helps prevent them from burning on the grill.
- Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes: This allows the chicken to absorb the flavors of the marinade and become more tender and juicy.
- Use a combination of chicken and green onions: The green onions add a nice flavor and texture to the skewers, and also help keep the chicken from sticking to the grill.
- Cook the skewers over medium-high heat: Grilling the skewers over medium-high heat helps ensure that the chicken is cooked through and slightly charred without burning.
- Baste the skewers with marinade as they cook: Brushing the skewers with the marinade as they cook helps keep them moist and adds extra flavor.
- Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds: Adding a sprinkle of chopped green onions and sesame seeds to the finished skewers adds a nice visual touch and extra flavor.
What are some popular side dishes to serve with Yakitori?
- Edamame: Steamed soybeans served with salt. This is a classic Japanese appetizer that pairs well with Yakitori.
- Gyoza: Pan-fried Japanese dumplings filled with pork and vegetables. Gyoza is a popular side dish that is often served at izakayas (Japanese pubs).
- Tsukemono: Japanese pickles that come in a variety of flavors. Tsukemono is a refreshing and crunchy side dish that pairs well with Yakitori.
- Sunomono: A salad made with thinly sliced cucumbers, seaweed, or octopus, dressed in vinegar and soy sauce. Sunomono is a light and refreshing side dish that helps balance the richness of the Yakitori.
- Yakisoba: Stir-fried noodles with vegetables and meat. Yakisoba is a popular Japanese street food that can be served as a side dish or a main course.
- Agedashi Tofu: Deep-fried tofu served in a savory broth with grated daikon radish and green onions. Agedashi Tofu is a delicious and comforting side dish that pairs well with Yakitori.
By pairing Yakitori with the right side dishes, you can create a well-balanced and satisfying meal that will impress your family and friends with its authentic Japanese flavors.
Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs?
Yes, you can use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs for Yakitori, but keep in mind that chicken breast tends to be leaner and can dry out more easily than chicken thighs. To prevent the chicken breast from becoming dry, you can marinate it for a longer period of time, or brush it with oil or butter as it cooks on the grill. You may also need to adjust the cooking time since chicken breast cooks faster than chicken thighs. It’s important to cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure that it is fully cooked.
Yakitori is a delicious and popular Japanese dish that features skewered pieces of chicken that are grilled to perfection over charcoal. With its tender and juicy chicken, crispy skin, and smoky flavor, Yakitori is a classic Japanese dish that is loved all over the world. Making Yakitori at home is relatively easy and requires only a few simple ingredients, such as chicken, green onions, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar.
By following the recipe and tips outlined above, you can create your own delicious and authentic Yakitori that is sure to impress your family and friends with its smoky and savory flavors. Whether you enjoy Yakitori as an appetizer or a main course, be sure to pair it with your favorite side dishes and beverages for a complete Japanese dining experience.