The Unusual Suspects Part 3: The Significant Others
For the third look at the more unusual skewers we serve at Bincho we focus on four items that don’t even make our ‘off menu’ list. In fact they are so far off the menu that they spoken about only in whispers between knowing customers and the guys behind the grill. They are known to us simply as ‘the others’.
As skewers go these really are The fantastic four and are common in some of the better, more upmarket yakitori joints in Japanese cities. In reality they probably stem from backstreet places like here .
True these skewers are not for everyone, an acquired taste and sadly outside Japan hard to find. Most yakitori restaurants in the western world [and you know who you are] play the safety card, keeping to the tried and tested skewers, the crowd pleasers……sod that
Mame - chicken spleen
Known also as megimo this little nugget is extremely rare, probably something to do with the fact that it takes 9 spleens to make one skewer, often we are only able to start a night with only 3 or 4 skewers if any.
The spleen is found attached to the livers, if you have ever bought livers from a decent butcher you may have come across it. The flavour is immense, similar to the liver but slightly stronger with a creamier texture that bursts on the tongue.
Kawa Ninniku - garlic wrapped in chicken skin
This skewer usually comes on in March with the arrival of the new seasons garlic.
This is much milder variation of regular garlic containing more natural sweetness which works particularly well with the smoky flavour of the grill.
When not in season we make this using regular garlic that has been quickly blanched in milk to remove any harshness, the garlic is then wrapped in a small piece of blanched chicken skin which has a brilliant self-basting effect.
For garlic fans this is a must, utterly delicious and not as fiery as you may think.
Tskune Nankotsu - minced chicken with cartilage
Minced chicken, vegetables, sesame, a touch of yuzu zest and then the master stroke of folding in chopped cartilage [nankotsu] which not only gives the skewer an incredible texture but also a knockout flavour.
We have been working on this for months, carefully balancing the meat/bone/yuzu ratio and feel that we have finally mastered it.
In our opinion it is compulsory to eat this skewer with a raw egg yolk to dip into. The yolk thickens under the heat of the skewer giving an extra dimension.
Hatsu moto – chicken aorta
This is a relative new one on us, it basically encompasses the aorta, the arteries and all the other pipes that run into the heart. It was introduced to us by a pissed off Japanese regular who ordered a skewer of chicken hearts and was mortified when he found that we had trimmed all the gory bits off.
The next day we tried these and were amazed at the flavour. A fixture in most restaurants in the west of Japan it has now become a fixture in ours.
To be continued....