All About Yakitori
Everything You Need to Know About Yakitori
Yakitori is an extremely popular food in Japan, on par with sushi and teriyaki. It is also one of the easiest dishes to make, as it is simply bite sized pieces of chicken on skewers, grilled over a charcoal burner. That being said, it is the seasonings and sauce that make yakitori a delicious treat for any meal or simply a mid-day or mid-evening snack. In addition to chicken there are other versions of yakitori available that are just as delicious and easy to make. Whether you sample this tasty dish at the source in Japan, or make it at home yourself, chances are you'll find yourself with a new favorite meal option to add to the list.
The name yakitori can be broken down into two separate words, yaki, which means grilled in Japanese, and tori, which means chicken or bird meat. Standard yakitori is chicken meat diced into cubes and skewered on wooden sticks. The meat is then seasoned with salt or a simple sauce made from soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and mirin, and then grilled over a charcoal or wood fire. The smoke from the fire and the grill imparts a rich, earthy flavor to the meat, and the meat is cooked until just tender for the perfect texture. Other popular versions of yakitori include seafood, beef or vegetables. Of course, methods and styles vary depending on the region and the chef, but overall, yakitori is an easy to make, delicious and savory snack that can be enjoyed either from street stalls, specialty restaurants, or at home. It is also goes quite well with sake and cold beer.
Different Types of Yakitori
One of the great things about yakitori is how diverse it is. There are many different cuts of meat, vegetables, and preparation methods. The following are some common types of yakitori:
Toriniku - All white chicken meat
Momo - Chicken thigh meat
Mune - Chicken breast meat
Sasami - Inner chicken breast meat
Shiro - Chicken intestines
Seseri - Chicken neck
Tsukune - Minced chicken (similar to meatballs)
Kimo or Reba - Chicken liver
Tebasaki - Chicken wing
Kawa - Chicken skin
Hatsu - Chicken heart
Sunagimo - Chicken gizzards
Bonjiri - Chicken tail
Nankotsu - Chicken cartilage
Shishito - Green peppers
Shitake - Shitake mushrooms
Ikada - Scallion
Butabara - Pork belly
Kashira - Pork cheeks
Gyutan - Beef tongue
Asuparabekon - Asparagus wrapped in bacon
Astuage Tofu - Deep fried tofu
Enoki Maki - Enoki mushrooms wrapped in thinly sliced pork
Piman - Green pepper with meat and cheese
Easy Yakitori Recipe
This recipe is a fast and easy version of yakitori that you can make at home with a simple charcoal or electric grill. It makes about 10 to 12 skewers, or enough to serve 2 people. It can be as an appetizer or as a main course, served with rice.
2 chicken breasts, diced into bite sized cubes
10-12 bamboo skewers
6 tbsp sake
6 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sugar
Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least half an hour to avoid charring. Mix the sake, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Thread the chicken on the skewers and grill over charcoal or on an electric grill. Baste the chicken with the sauce and turn a few times to make sure it is cooked all the way through. Once the chicken is cooked, serve with a drizzle of the sauce.
For variation you can switch the chicken for seafood, pork, beef or vegetables. Vegetables can also be added onto the skewers with the chicken for a tasty and colorful mix.
Watch This Video to Learn How to Make Yakitori
Yakitori Grills and Stoves For Making Yakitori at Home
How to Make Homemade Yakitori Sauce
One of the best things about yakitori is the sweet, savory, rich sauce that is drizzled on top of the cooked skewers. The sauce is similar to teiyaki sauce, but quite a bit thicker and a tad more flavorful. The secret to this delicious sauce is mirin - a Japanese rice wine product that is high in sugar, so it imparts a sweet flavor to the smoky grilled meat. The following is a basic recipe for yakitori sauce:
Yakitori Sauce Recipe
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup mirin
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/8 thick slice of ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and half the water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Mix the remaining half of the water and the cornstarch in a small bowl until the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour the mixture into the sauce and cook until the sauce is thickened. Strain the sauce to remove the garlic and ginger, and drizzle over the yakitori, or brush it directly onto the meat. Serve hot.
Any remaining sauce can be refrigerated.