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Recipe: Chicken Teryaki

A great introduction to the flavours of yakitori is chicken teriyaki; there are no skewers to fiddle around with, it can be easily cooked in a frying pan on a regular gas hob and it’s very simple to make.

This is an abridged recipe for home use; our actual restaurant recipe for yakitori tare (sauce) is much more complicated and involves quite a lot of hard-to-find ingredients. Also, if I told you the recipe I’d have to kill you. Nevertheless, the “simple” version is still delicious.

Ingredients (Serves 4): 4 large chicken breasts with skin, deboned -or- 4-6 chicken thighs with skin, deboned 1 tablespoon vegetable oil Salt, to taste

For the yakitori tare sauce: 200ml cooking sake (available in most good supermarkets or Oriental food shops) 200ml dark soy sauce (e.g. Kikkoman) 3 tablespoons caster sugar 1 tablespoon honey

First we must prepare our yakitori tare sauce. In a small saucepan, warm up the sake until it starts to simmer. Then, with a match or lighter, light the vapour to burn off the alcohol. Mind your eyebrows. Once the flame stops burning, add the dark soy sauce and again bring to a simmer. Stir in the caster sugar and honey until completely dissolved, then reduce the whole mixture until it coats the back of a spoon, roughly 10 minutes over a low-to-medium heat. Set to one side.

In a large, heavy, non-stick frying pan, warm up the oil on a medium-to-hot fire. Pierce the breast or thigh skin with a fork a few times, to prevent it shrinking during cooking and to allow the tare to penetrate. Lightly season with salt, which will help colour and crisp. Place the chicken skin-side down into the hot pan, and cook for around 3-4 minutes. Once nicely browned, turn the chicken with tongs or a spatula and cook for a further 3 minutes.

By now the chicken should be about 90% cooked; press the surface of the flesh with your finger to test. If it feels soft, like your chin, it needs more cooking. If it feels like the tip of your nose, firm with a tiny bit of give, perfect. Avoid the temptation to overcook the chicken, especially breast, as it will end up chewy and dry.

Using a pastry brush or a spoon, generously coat the chicken on both sides with yakitori tare. Cook for a further minute or two until the sauce caramelises into a sticky glaze. For extra authenticity, you can finish the chicken off with tare on a barbeque, great for impressing members of the opposite sex at summer garden parties.

Remove the chicken from the pan when fully cooked and golden, and let it rest for a minute or two. Slice into generous strips with a sharp knife, drizzle some of the remaining yakitori tare over the chicken and serve with steamed rice, salad or even steamed new potatoes with a touch of fresh mint. You can save the remaining yakitori tare in the fridge for later use; it keeps indefinitely.

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