While in Tokyo we went out for Japanese Yakitori with some Salary Men – Salary Men are white-collar desk workers who like to let their hair down on a Friday night. We found the yakitori bars in a labyrinth of streets near Shibuya Station in one of the few parts of Tokyo that hasn’t yet been gentrified.
The streets were full of the smell of charcoal and grilled chicken and our mouths were watering. Out came the sake and the beers and we had a top night. Japanese Yakitori are dead simple to make at home, but allow time for marinating the meat. You’ll need 12 bamboo skewers too. You can also make Japanese Yakitori from prawns and offal.
Ingredients; Makes 10–12
- 500g Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs
- 8 Spring Onions, Cut Into 5cm Pieces
- 100ml Soy Sauce
- 50ml Sake
- 75ml Mirin
- 2 Tbsp Caster Sugar
- 20g Fresh Root Ginger, Grated
- 1 Garlic Clove, Crushed Or Grated
- 1 Tsp Rice Flour, Mixed With 1 Tbsp Water
How to make Japanese Yakitori
Pour the soy sauce, sake and mirin into a small pan and add the caster sugar, ginger and garlic. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves, then reduce the heat for a further 5 minutes to cook the garlic and ginger.
Once the garlic is soft, add the rice flour paste to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly until the sauce has thickened. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, and then pour 125 ml of it into a bowl and leave to cool. Put the remaining sauce into a separate bowl and set aside for brushing the yakitori later.
Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and add them to the bowl containing the 125 ml of cooled sauce. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour. Meanwhile, put the bamboo skewers into a shallow dish of cold water to soak for at least half an hour – longer if possible. This will help to stop them burning when on the grill.
Once the chicken has marinated, thread about 4 pieces on to a skewer, alternating them with spring onion. Place the filled skewer on a plate or tray and repeat until you’ve used all the chicken and spring onions.
Heat a large griddle, barbecue or grill. Place the skewers on or under the grill and cook for about 2 minutes, then turn them and brush the top of the chicken pieces with the sauce. Repeat this turning and brushing about 4 times until the chicken is cooked – this should take about 8 minutes, but always check to make sure it is cooked through and no pinkness remains.
If necessary, you can cook the Japanese yakitori in batches and keep them warm in a low oven while you grill the rest.
The Yakitori is ready to be served, Delicious with rice or on their own.