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Chicken Yakitori

Introduction & method

In Japan there are whole restaurants devoted to Yakitori - the name simply means 'grilled bird' or 'grilled meat'. Chicken is the most common type of yakitori, and all parts of the bird are used. In this recipe I've chosen to only use chicken thighs, the juiciest, tastiest meat on a chicken. Yakitori chicken with spring onions is called negima in Japan.

Chicken Yakitori Recipe

Soak Your Skewers

If you are using bamboo skewers, you'll need to soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes before cooking - this will stop them from going up in flames.

Make the Sauce

Add the sauce ingredients to a small pan and bring to a rapid boil. Let it cook on high heat until it has reduced by about one third. Set aside until needed. This kind of sauce, by the way, is called tare (tah ray), and some versions of it include chicken stock, ginger, garlic and maybe sake (rice wine). Save some of the sauce for dipping, and use the rest for basting the yakitori.

Prep the Spring Onions

Trim the raggy roots and green tops of the onions. You only really want the firm white part. Cut it into 2½ cm (1 inch) chunks and set aside.

Prep the Chicken

Chicken thighs are probably the best choice for this dish, but you can use breast. Skin on or skin off is up to you - I prefer to leave it on. You will need to remove any bones if there are any. Cut the chicken into strips, about 2½ cm (1 inch) wide and 5-6 cm (2 inches) long. Season with salt and pepper. Fold one in half and thread it onto a skewer. Then add a chunk of spring onion, more chicken, more spring onion and a third strip of chicken.

Cook the Yakitori

You can cook yakitori on a BBQ, grille or griddle plate. Whatever you use, it needs to be medium hot. Paint the yakitori with sauce on one side only, and place that side down on the griddle. Baste with more sauce after a couple of minutes. Cook for 4 minutes, turn over and baste the yakitori. Cook for another 4 minutes and check that the chicken is cooked by removing one chunk of chicken and cutting it open. Cook for a bit longer if necessary.


Serve the yakitori with sticky white rice, possibly some sliced green tops of spring onion, and the reserved sauce in a small bowl for dipping.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Chicken Yakitori on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 500 grams chicken thighs or breasts
 8 -12 2½ cm spring onion pieces
 4 skewers
 185 ml dark soy sauce
 185 ml mirin
 2½ tbsp light brown sugar

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 4 skewers
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 10 minutes.
Total time: 20 minutes.