Chicken Yakitori is a favorite dish in Japan. Small pieces of chicken meat are marinated in a rich, sweet and flavorful soy-based Yakitori sauce, and then grilled and basted with more sauce and green scallions on skewers. In this recipe I use both chicken breast and thigh meat cut in small pieces for quicker cooking.
A great Yakitori sauce is easy to make and uses ingredients available at your local grocery. An authentic sauce simmers for 1 -2 hours to get a thick syrup consistency. However, I learned that adding a cornstarch slurry can speed up the thickening process and still makes a great basting sauce. The hardest part of this dinner is threading the chicken meat on the skewers. It grills up in 10 minutes. Serve it with brown rice, pickled cucumbers, and a Vegetable Tempua (just follow the directions on a box of store-bought tempura batter) for a great and easy taste of Japan. I served Haagen Dazs Green Tea (Matcha tea) Ice Cream with Almond Cookies to round out a perfect meal to watch the Japanese Grand Prix.The Grand Prix is held at the Suzuka International Racing Course in Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture, Japan, about 30 miles south of Nagoya. This area is also home to some of Japan’s most beautiful and sacred Shinto shrines. The Suzuka race track is known as having some of the most challenging corners of any Formula circuit.
After the drama of the Malaysian Grand Prix – where Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton lost his car to an engine fire, and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel wrecked his car on the first turn in lap one – we are hoping for a error free race in Japan, and see Ferrari get a win. Kudos to the Red Bull Team for a great race in Kuala Lumpur.
Japanese Grand Prix: Chicken Yakitori with Green Scallions
- 3 2 pounds chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
- 4 1 pound chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup water
- ⅓ cup Japanese Mirin or sweet Japanese wine
- Scant ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 2- inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and minced (about 1 1/12 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 green scallions trimmed and white part cut in 1 inch pieces
- 8 wooden skewers
Soak the wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning when grilling.
In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, Mirin, brown sugar, and vinegar. Mix well to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
Prepare the chicken by first pounding the chicken with the back of a chef’s knife to tenderize. This will also help the marinate process.
Cut the breasts and thighs in long strips. They will be “threaded” on the skewer for grilling. Place the cut chicken in a separate bowl. Add the minced ginger, garlic, and black pepper and mix to distribute the spices evenly. Add ¼ cup of the soy sauce mixture. Toss and let marinate for 15 minutes.
While the chicken is marinating, transfer the rest of the soy sauce mixture to a small pan on the stovetop. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Watch closely so it does not burn due to the high sugar content.
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce mixture until smooth. Slowly add the cornstarch paste to the hot soy sauce and continue stirring until smooth. Once the Yakitori sauce has thickened, take off heat and let cool.
Tightly thread the marinated chicken on the soaked skewers using a zig-zag pattern. Do not let any loose ends hang off the stick. Add a piece of scallion every other piece. Leave about an inch at the end for the handle.
Brush the Yakitori sauce on the chicken meat on both sides.
Place the skewers on a grill pan over medium high heat or on the BBQ grill. Grill for 4 minutes on each side or until the dark chicken meat is cooked through. Do not overcook. Brush with more sauce if needed while grilling.
Serve immediately with steamed rice and pickled cucumbers.