Yakitori is a Japanese recipe that simply translates to “grilled chicken” and it’s so popular in Japan, restaurants specialize in this seriously delicious protein on a stick. Traditionally, chicken thighs are best, they’re forgiving and still juicy if you accidentally overcook the skewers. Serve as an appetizer or as a main course with steamed rice or a fresh salad. I recommend serving with grilled shishito peppers!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
½ cup Japanese soy sauce or soy sauce
½ cup mirin (a syrupy, sweet Japanese cooking wine low in alcohol content used for seasoning and glazing. Look for it in the cultural food aisle in your local supermarket or Asian grocery store)
¼ cup sake or Chinese rice wine
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp water
8 pieces green scallion + 8 scallions cut into 1-inch pieces, divided
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
12-16 bamboo skewers or 8-10 metal skewers
1. Submerge bamboo skewers in a casserole dish half-filled of water for 20 minutes or up to overnight.
2. Make the glaze: combine soy sauce, mirin, sake, brown sugar, water and 8 green onion pieces in a small saucepan and stir. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered until thickened and reduced to by half, about 15 minutes. Discard the green onion and let cool, glaze should be syrupy. (You can store the glaze in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 months).
3. In a bowl, stir together the chicken, oil, salt and pepper. Working with 1 chicken piece at a time, fold in half and thread onto a skewer tightly together, repeat with 1 more chicken piece alternating with a scallion. Repeat with 2 chicken pieces and 1 scallion making sure they’re tightly packed. Repeat.
4. Preheat a grill to medium-high then clean and oil the grate. Place skewers over the heat and cook, covered. Turn after browned on each side, about 4 minutes per side. Brush the chicken and scallion with some of the glaze and cook for 30 seconds, turn and repeat with more glaze for another 30 seconds. Brush with more glaze and place on a serving platter. Serve with skewered and grilled shishito peppers, it takes about 1 minute per side for the most deliciously blistered accompaniment.
Tip: Don’t have a BBQ? Line a heavy baking sheet with foil and top with a greased cooling rack and broil for 6-7 minutes. Brush with glaze and broil until nicely charred and caramelized.