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How to Make Authentic Japanese Yakitori with a Video

Updated on September 4, 2011
A sauce of sake - rice wine - mixed with Japanese soy sauce is poured over pieces of marinated chicken grilled on wooden skewers, just before serving.
A sauce of sake - rice wine - mixed with Japanese soy sauce is poured over pieces of marinated chicken grilled on wooden skewers, just before serving.

Yakitori - an authentic recipe

Grilled marinated chicken - yakitori - is one of Japan's most popular dishes.

Shoyu is Japanese soy sauce. It is lighter than its Chinese equivalent, and should, if possible, be used in all Japanese dishes where subtlety of flavor is important. It is available at oriental food shops, and at some health food shops, but a mild Chinese soy sauce can be used instead. Sake - Japanese rice wine - is also available at oriental shops, but a very dry sherry can be used as a substitute.

Traditionally, yakitori should be cooked on small wooden skewers, which are available at most supermarkets and oriental stores. Soak them in water for 15 minutes before use; this prevents them burning during cooking. Ordinary metal skewers can be used instead, but they should be oiled first.

For the best flavor, marinate the chicken for 24 hours or even longer. It can be left for up to 3 days. Turn it frequently during this time.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Marinating time: at least 4 hours

Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, total weight 1¼ -1½ pound (625-750g)
  • ½ cup shoyu
  • ½ cup sake
  • 4 level tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and crushed or very finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper

How to make yakitori

  1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes, discarding all skin. Put half of the shoyu, half of the sake and half of the sugar in a shallow dish with the garlic, ginger and black pepper to taste. Mix well together until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the chicken pieces to the dish and stir well to coat in the marinade. Cover the dish tightly and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Turn the chicken occasionally.
  3. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade and thread onto small wooden skewers. Cook over a charcoal barbecue or under a preheated moderate grill for 10-15 minutes, turning the skewers frequently and brushing with the marinade.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, put the remaining shoyu, sake and sugar in a small saucepan with pepper to taste and simmer for a few minutes.

Serve the yakitori hot, with the sauce poured over it, accompanied by plain rice and stir-fried vegetables.


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    • Choke Frantic profile image

      Choke Frantic 8 years ago from Newcastle, Australia

      Yum! Good hub.