- 200 g chicken
- spring onions
- yakitori sauce (see Food Print 7; I bought the sauce, but it mainly consists of mirin, soy sauce and suggar)
- pepper, shichimi or salt
During my short time living in Japan I stayed at a rental apartment in Itabashi, 20 minutes by Mita-Line to the north-west of Tokyo. The place around my station Motohasunuma was quite a contrast to the busy, metropolitan centres of modern Edo. Small shops, schools and one family houses decorated with plenty of flowers gave the impression of a little countryside town. Here, the planet's largest mega-city was far away.
The first thing coming to my senses each night when returning home was the slightly burned smell of a nondescript yakitori grill behind the apartment house. There, an old man with a white towel around his head was grilling his chicken on short bamboo skewers. It smouldered a lot, but no matter if it was heavily raining or the hottest summer sun, there had been always a small group of other old women and men, talking and enjoying yakitori with a beer.
Yakitori ("grilled chicken") and generally everything you can stick on bamboo skewers ("kushi") for quick grilling is highly famous in Japan. You can have them in fancy restaurants, at temple festivities, for hanami (cherry blossom watching) or just anywhere along the street in the cities. I tried grilled quail eggs, tofu or chicken hearts. In Kyoto I visited a restaurant chain offering no less than 101 different kinds of these so called "kushiyaki". One bite of delicious taste is followed by the next, and next, and next... Have a look for other kushiyaki recipes at Food Print 36 and Food Print 58.
For this dinner I focused on the original yakitori. First water the bamboo sticks for some minutes in cold water – that will prevent them from getting burned and helps to remove the meat later. Then cut the chicken and spring onions in small pieces of about 3 cm length. Place three pieces of chicken and two pieces of spring onion onto the skewers, dip them into the yakitori sauce and grill them for about three minutes on each side. You will get the best result when grilling your yakitori above wood or charcoal. If not available, the oven or a pan will do the job as well, even though you will miss the typical smoky taste of your yakitori.
When you need to serve more guests during a party, yakitori are ideal to prepare and normaly hit everyone's taste.
Here are some impressions of kushiyaki I had the pleasure to taste in Japan: