So, how exactly do you make yakitori without any sort of specialist equipment?
Well, the answer is simple… cheat a bit.
The following recipe is definitely not what we do at Bincho, but is intended as a bit of fun for anyone wanting to try their hand at burning themselves making a classic Japanese dish from the comfort of their own home.
What we’re going to make is an embarrassingly simple yakitori skewer from 100% free-range chicken thigh, called momo. I’m not even going to mention specific weights or amounts, as yakitori is all about informal eating and you should make as many skewers as you feel like. But, as a rough guide, one boneless chicken thigh will make 2-3 generous skewers.
Skinless free-range chicken thighs, deboned
Yakitori sauce, known as “tare” (see here for a simple home recipe)
Other equipment: 15cm bamboo/wooden skewers (soaked in water, to prevent burning) Oven grill/broiler (known in professional circles as a “salamander”)
Take your chicken thighs, dice into generous chunks and thread onto your pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Don’t trim off the fatty bits, that’s where all the moisture and flavour is. If you want extra flavour (and if you do, I like you already) try leaving the skins on. A word of warning though, the extra fat might set alight and burn your beautiful house down.
While you’re doing this, pre-heat the grill to its maximum setting. Once your skewers are prepped, whack them under the grill about 20cm under the heating element; any closer will risk burning the outside of the chicken and leaving the centre stone cold. It might be a good idea to put a baking tray under the skewers to collect any fat that runs off, it will save you having to scrub your charred oven later.
Once the top of the chicken is nicely coloured, turn your skewers and grill the other side. Once 70-80% cooked (the chicken will feel relatively firm when pressed, with a tiny bit of give), brush with yakitori sauce and give them a final pass under the heat until glazed and golden. Before stuffing your face, baste with more yakitori sauce. Alternatively, omit the yakitori sauce and sprinkle with crushed sea salt and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice.
If you really want to impress people, try doing exactly the same thing on a charcoal barbeque. The smokiness of the charcoal imparts a more authentic flavour to the chicken, as well as being a lot more entertaining to cook. So pick a sizzling summer’s day, crack open a few ice cold beers, stick some good tunes on and forget about tomorrow…