Yakitori, or Japanese meat on a stick, is one of those dishes that’s really hard not to love. Traditionally, yakitori refers to grilled chicken, but we’ve been seeing everything from pork jowls to scallops to chicken hearts get the yakitori treatment. It’s a simple, crave-able, and wonderful way to cook meat or veggies—just layer onto skewers, brush with a layer of sake-based sauce, and give them a quick cook on a grill or an open fire until they are just the right amount of charred. Serve immediately.
We love how easy these are to make, how guaranteed they are to please a hungry crowd, how juicy they are to devour, and how well they pair with sake.
Chicken and Scallion Yakitori
2 pounds boneless thigh meat
2/3 cup dark soy sauce or tamari
1/2 cup mirin
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and grated
2 bunches scallions (about 12), cut into 1-inch pieces
Cut chicken into one-inch chunks. Set aside.
Mix soy sauce or tamari, mirin, sake, brown sugar, garlic and ginger in a small saucepan. Cook over a simmer for about 8 minutes, or until thickened. Reserve a quarter cup of sauce for serving. Pour the rest over chicken. Leave chicken to marinate for at least an hour, and up to 5 hours.
Meanwhile, soak bamboo skewers in water for 20 minutes, and then drain. Thread the chicken and scallions onto the skewers, alternating chicken and scallion pieces.
Preheat grill or broiler. Brush the chicken and scallions with oil and grill over moderate heat, turning, until just cooked through, or about 10 minutes. Serve drizzled with reserved sauce.
Hannah Howard is a writer and food expert who spent her formative years eating, drinking, serving, bartending, cooking on a hot line, flipping giant wheels of cheese, and managing restaurants. She is the author of the memoir Feast: True Love in and Out of the Kitchen. Hannah is a graduate of Columbia University and the Bennington Writing Seminars. She writes for SELF, New York Magazine, and Salon.com, and lives in New York City.