When R and I decided to take a friend up on his invitation to celebrate the 4th at his family's beach front house (rather than, say, hanging out at home), I had one though: yakitori! Sure, yakitori probably isn't the most traditional food for the celebration of our nation's founding, but it had been on my mind recently thanks to my favorite food blogger.
This also meant that I got to try out a recipe that I probably wouldn't have otherwise made from one of my new cookbooks. I hadn't marked it when I did my initial pass though the book, due either to my lack of a BBQ or a feeling of "grilled chicken, so what?" and so nearly missed out on something delicious. The yakitori sauce, slowly caramelized on the grill into an umber glaze, really does something magical to the chunks of chicken thigh. It was delicious and everyone was much impressed.
As I wasn't going to make a giant mountain of yakitori, I wound up halving the recipe, which was the perfect amount for the eight chicken skewers (five or six thighs) and five vegetable skewers (plus a smidge left over that was subsequently brushed onto some grilled pineapple). I didn't have any kombu, but while I'm sure the kelp would have added some nice umami notes to the sauce, it's presence wasn't missed in the final product. I also substituted shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7 spice blend, including red pepper) for ichimi togarashi (Japanese red pepper flakes) and lime juice for lemon juice. Bonus: this can be made a day ahead of time.
Adapted from Takashi's Noodles
- 1 c soy sauce
- 1/6 c sake
- 1/6 c water
- 2 t ginger juice (grate ginger into plastic wrap, poke a hole in the bottom and squeeze out the juice)
- 1 T sesame oil
- 1/8 c lime juice
- 1 c sugar
- 1/2 t shichimi togarashi
- chicken thighs, cut into 1" cubes
- scallions, cut into 1/2" pieces
- veggies, if you would like (I had red bell pepper, eggplant, and summer squash)
- bamboo skewers
Combine sauce ingredients in a saucepan over high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to a boil. Decrease heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside.
Skewer chicken, threading on a piece of green onion every few pieces. Make sure to leave room at the end for use as a handle. Skewer veggies, if using (you can also mix them on the skewers, but I preferred having them separate).
Heat grill to medium. Place skewers on grill so that uncovered ends are hanging over the edge. Sear on each side (~2 minutes per side), then baste with sauce and flip skewers every minute or so until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is caramelized (8-10 min). Cook the veggies the same way.