Hungry? Well here's one from Japlanning that probably won't help! Today on the menu, we are delving into one of the most famous izakaya (bar) snacks in Japan, yakitori!
We all know that food is always better when it can be eaten on a stick (fact). Well, the Japanese took this onboard, and created have one of the best stick-based foods, yakitori.
Yakitori, which translates to "grilled chicken", is a Japanese type of skewered chicken, however in modern times, the term has expanded to cover generally any skewered food in Japan. Traditionally, yakitori is cooked over binchotan charcoal and when you order, you will usually have the choice of having the meat cooked with salt or "tare" sauce (a Japanese sauce that is made with sake, soy sauce, mirin and sugar). This sweet, sticky sauce is a delicious addition to the meat. Once decided, the skewers are cooked and grilled to perfection. Many locations will in fact cook them right at your table or bar side while you watch.
Yakitori can be found all over Japan and is easy to come by, it's usually served as street food, in small stands, and is even more associated with drinking, as yakitori is the epitome of izakaya food at most waterholes in Japan.
The popularity of the rather simple dish in Japan has exploded, and in recent years more traditional and fine dining restaurants have popped up serving the traditionally casual food with organic chicken and high-grade beef cuts amongst others.
Want to try some amazing yakitori in Japan? Well, just walk around! You will find izakayas everywhere that specialise in the skewered meat, and also on the street from vendors, especially around tourist attractions. You will usually find many bundled together, typically not too far from train stations, as well as down small streets and alleyways.
One of the most famous locations to try some authentic yakitori is in Shinjuku, just by the station. The "Omoide-yokocho" is a series of laneways on the north-west side of Shinjuku station, and it is filled with tiny izakaya's and eateries all lined up. Down here you can try countless varieties of yakitori, all only steps apart from each other.
Okay, so know we have talked up the wonder that is yakitori, it's time you make some yourself to hold you over till your next trip to Japan.
You will need:
- Wooden skewers
- Knife and chopping board
- Medium pot
- BBQ grill (or grill plate)
- 3 Chicken thighs (boneless)
- 4 Stems spring onions or asparagus (depending on tastes)
- 4 Tablespoons of soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons of sugar
- 1 Teaspoon of sake (or mirin)
- 1 Tablespoon of water
- 1 Teaspoon of maple syrup
- Mix together the soy sauce, sake, sugar and maple syrup in a pot. Heat it up over a medium heat till well combined and the sugar is dissolved.
- Cut the chicken to cubed pieces, about 2 - 3cm in size
- Put the chicken pieces into the sauce you prepared, leave it to sit for 30 minutes (put in fridge)
- Cut the spring onion or asparagus into 2cm long pieces
- Spear 3 or 4 pieces of chicken alternated with a piece of spring onion or asparagus on a skewer
- Grill them on a medium - high heat turning them until brown and cooked through
Use what meat you want and start to experiment and mix it up! and tell us about your creations below!
Yakitori is a delicious dish that is perfect for anytime, a quick meal to make or a great dish to serve at a party. When in Japan next make sure its a must try dish on your journey around Japan's kitchen.