Yakatori: Grilled Skewered Chicken, Vegetables and Quail Eggs

This is one of Japans favourite street foods. It is usually prepared with the chicken legs but other parts of the chicken are also used including wings and even the liver. A selection of vegetables and quail eggs can also prepared as part of a yakatori selection.

The sauce used to coat the chicken is traditionally used over and over again so that the flavour is rich and full. Most of us will only be preparing Yakitori occasionally so I have given the recipe for a quick Yakitori sauce that is suitable only for one preparation. The yakitori is good cooked on a barbecue but also works well cooked on a grill pan or under a grill.

Yakatori: Grilled Skewered Chicken

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Easy Yakitori Sauce (Tare):

  • 100ml saké
  • 50ml mirin
  • 200ml dark soy sauce
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 18 quail eggs, boiled and peeled
  • 18 button mushrooms or shitake mushrooms, cleaned and stem trimmed
  • 3 red, yellow or green peppers (capsicum), seeds removed and cut into 18 even rectangles or squares
  • 18 chicken balls (see recipe)
  • 600g chicken meat (leg or thigh) cut into 2-2.5cm pieces
  • 6 chicken wings, tip removed
  • 36-42 wooden skewers soaked in water for 20 minutes

To Serve

  • sansho pepper* or
  • seven spice mixture* (optional)

Method

  1. Yakitori Sauce (Tare): Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to the boil, then remove it from the heat. Allow the sauce to come to room temperature before using.
  2. Skewers: Thread the ingredients on separate skewers and place each variety on separate trays: 3 quail eggs per skewer, 3 button mushrooms per skewer, 3 peppers per skewer, 3 chicken balls, 3-4 pieces of chicken meat (make sure you have at least 6 skewers), and 1 chicken wing per skewer.
  3. To Cook: Cook the skewers over a hot barbecue or on a grill pan over a high heat or under a hot grill. Cook the skewers turning them a couple of times until the juices begin to flow from the meat. Brush the skewers with the sauce or dip the mixed skewers in the yakitori sauce and return it to them to the grill for 1-2 minutes. Coat the skewers with the sauce again and cook them for a further couple of minutes. Be careful not to overcook them as they will be tough and dry.
  4. To Serve: Arrange the Yakitori on a serving tray for guests to serve themselves. Accompany the Yakitori with sansho pepper or seven spice mixture (optional) for sprinkling on the yakitori. Yakitori is traditionally eaten directly from the skewers.
  • Sansho Pepper: This is a greenish- brown spice from the pods from a sansho tree, it has a tangy flavour and is used as accompaniment to grilled meat and fish.
  • Seven Spice Mixture (shichimi): This is prepared from seven dried and ground spices: red pepper (togarashi), small flakes of mandarin orange peel, brown sansho pepper, black hemp seeds, dark green nori seaweed pieces and white sesame seeds. Seven spice mixture is used to sprinkle on soups and noodles, and as a seasoning for many more dishes.