Yakitori is a Japanese grilled chicken skewer which is made from all different parts of chicken; such as thigh, breast, wing, liver and even cartilage (! I know…). At the restaurants, it is normally charcol-grilled and basted with the special Yakitori sauce or seasoned with salt. There are a lot of casual Yakitori bars in Japan and it is so hard to resist going inside where the fragrance of caramelised Yakiyori sauce comes from!
Today, I would like to introduce “Nagima” Yakiyori recipe along with my Yakitori Sauce. “Negi” is spring onion and “Ma” is between in Japanese, so that makes Negima a skewered chicken thigh with spring onions in between. It is one of the most common and popular Yakitori skewers.
As Yakitori is technically BBQ chicken, the cooking method is super simple, which is barbecue. However I believe that a simple cooking method is sometimes the most difficult thing to do as it actually shows your technique. I have experienced so many times that the meat is burnt while it is still half-cooked…
So! I would also like to write down here my secrets to making perfect juicy Yakitori at home. Neither charcoal grill nor professional technique are needed. Just remember the 3 tips below and you can enjoy very yummy Yakitori at home!
Tip 1 – Brine Chicken
Soak chicken in brine – this is the same method I have introduced for my Karaage. When we cook chicken, we often overcook it since we worry too much about under-cooked chicken. However, if you brine it, I guarantee that chicken will come out tender and juicy even if you cook it longer than you should.
Tip 2 – Cook Yakitori on Baking Paper
If you are planning to use a gas BBQ grill, DO NOT use this method (it will catch fire!). If you are planning to cook Yakitori on a flat-bottomed frying-pan or an indoor electric grill, this method works superbly. Just line the pan with baking paper and cook the skewered chicken on it. This way, the chicken will not be burned even after basting Yakitori Sauce over the meat. It is also easy to clean too, since the sauce will not stick to the pan. Please just be careful if you use a gas-cooktop. Make sure that baking paper is cut to fit inside of the frying-pan to avoid the paper from catching fire.
Tip 3 – Do not over simmer the Yakitori Sauce
Sauce – do not over thicken it. Just simmer 5 minutes in a low heat with constant whisking. Stop simmering ever your eyes cannot recognise the change. When basting the chicken with the sauce later on, the sauce will be caramelised and thickened to a good consistency.
I like cooking my Yakitori on an electric grill which my husband bought for me some years ago. I like placing it in the centre of the dinner table, so that we can chat and enjoy our family time while cooking and eating. It is just like a home-version of Teppanyaki! We can also cook vegetables next to Yakitori, which makes a perfect dinner.
We cannot go traveling to Japan nor going to eat out at Japanese restaurants at this moment. So why not bring Japan to home? Yakitori dinner will certainly be a fun thing to do with your family and friends.
Hope you enjoy it 🙂
Ingredients – 12 skewers
- 500g Chicken thighs (about 3-4 chicken thighs) – cut into 2.5cm cubes
- 6-7 of while part of Spring Onions – cut into 2.5cm length to make 24 of them
- 12 wooden skewers (if you use a gas-cooktop, soak in water for about 30 minutes)
- 100ml of Water
- 1 Teaspoon of Salt
- 1 Teaspoon of Sugar
For Yakitori Sauce
- 3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
- 1.5 Tablespoons of Mirin
- 1 Tablespoon of Sugar
- 0.5 Tablespoon of Cooking Sake
- Mix all of the brine ingredients in a large bowl.
- Place chicken pieces into the brine. Mix them gently by hand or chopsticks for a minute. You will be able to see the brine being absorbed into the chicken while mixing them. Marinate them for 15 minutes.
- Combine all of the Yakitori Sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring it to a boil.
- Turn the heat to low. Constantly whisk and keep simmering for about 5 minutes to make the sauce slightly thickened. Transfer the sauce into a bowl. Put it aside.
Skewer the Chicken thighs
- Remove the chicken pieces from the brine and pat-dry them with paper towels.
- Thread the chicken pieces and spring onions alternatively onto the wooden skewer. Thread “Chicken – Spring Onion – Chicken – Spring Onion – Chicken”. Repeat the process to make 12 skewers.
Cook the Yakitori
- Heat a frying-pan or electric grill to high. Once the frying-pan gets really hot, turn the heat to medium. Spread oil over the pan and place a piece of baking paper on the pan. If you are using a gas-cooktop, make sure the baking paper is cut to fit in the bottom of the frying-pan to avoid the paper from catching fire.
- Lay the chicken skewers on the baking paper. Cook them for about 5 minutes. Flip them over and cook with a lid on for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. If you do not have a matching lid, just cover them with a piece of aluminium foil or baking paper.
- Brush the Yakitori Sauce on the chicken on both sides. Cook each side for 10 seconds to quickly caramelise the sauce.
- Transfer the Yakitori to a serving plate. Serve them straight away while hot.