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日本人はグリル:焼き鳥を (Japanese Grilling Adventure – Part 1)

So Sunday afternoon came around and we had a bit of a reunion going on. Our dear friends Ayako, Nico, Sakura and Misaki all came back to Singapore after living in Tokyo for what seemed like forever! It was a great reason to have them over for a meal and what was even better was that both Heather and I were able to stretch our culinary prowess to include a number of “authentic” Japanese dishes. OK, well, they were more “fusion” in nature but Ayako did give me the thumbs up for the Yakitori.

In fact, we got decent marks on four separate dishes in total! I’ll feature three instalments on this blog covering the Yakitori starters, then the Wasabi Shoyu Salmon and finally the Grilled Miso Asian Eggplant. Heather can write about her fantastic Japanese cheesecake another time on her own blog!!!

So lets talk 焼き鳥 for a moment…sorry, that says Yakitori, which literally means grilled chicken. The best part of this recipe was definitely the sauce. I’ve been asked by my 16 year old to do this one again…for sure!

You’ll need the following to make great Yakitori:

  1. 20 bamboo skewers (soaked in water for a few hours)

  2. 1 kg of boneless dark chicken meat (I actually deboned 12 chicken legs which was dumb – go for chicken thighs if you can find them. In a jam, use chicken breast but the flavour is better with dark meat!)

  3. 1/2 kg of slender young leeks

  4. 1/2 cup Shoyu  (Chinese light soy will work as a substitute)

  5. 1/2 cup of Sake

  6. 1/2 cup of Mirin (a sweet rice wine)

  7. 3 tbsp white sugar

  8. 3 slices of old ginger, peeled and sliced

  9. 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

  10. 3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped

  11. A good sprinkle of Lowry’s Seasoned Salt

Get your meat ready by either de-boning chicken legs like I did or simply cutting the dark meat into 2 inches in length and about 1/2 inch wide and thick. Set the chicken aside, cover with cling film and chuck it in the fridge. If you go the way I did, your chicken will have a really rustic look, uneven but damn tasty!

Prepare your leeks by discarding the leafy green part at the end and cut your ends. Now carefully slice the leek in half and then again into 2 inch pieces. What you’ll do is alternate chicken and leek on the skewers when you’re ready to get going.

Thread the chicken, then the leek and repeat until you’ve got all your skewers done. You should be able to get 4 pieces of chicken and 4 pieces of leek onto each skewer. You could also put a shitake mushroom onto your skewers too. I decided to grill mine separately. Now season your skewers with the Lowry’s Seasoned salt, cover and put it all back in the fridge. It’s time to make your sauce now.

Combine the shoyu, sake, mirin, sugar, ginger, garlic and green onion into a saucepan and bring it all to a boil over medium heat. Blend by stirring until all the sugar melts then let it simmer on low heat for a good 10 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, strain it into a container and set it aside for when you’re ready to grill.

Set up your grill for direct heat and a nice and high temperature. You’ll grill with the lid up so as only to cook the surface of the chicken, not drying it out. Its thin meat so it’ll grill quickly! Brush some vegetable oil on a separate grid that rests on top of your grill. Next time I’ll simply put two bricks on and lay the Yakitori skewers between them to cook. A good idea too is to cover the bottoms of your skewers with Ali foil…saves them from charring.

Place your skewers on the grid and let them grill for about three minutes. Flip them carefully as they may stick if you have them on a grid. Once done, baste the cooked side of the chicken with your Yakitori sauce. Now flip again and smother in sauce. Check your chicken for doneness but you’ll not want to go more than 5 minutes per side. Once you start to see a little caramelisation going on, you’re there! Now simply put them on a plate, along with your shitake mushroom and serve any left over sauce on top.

Enjoy…this was my favourite part of the four part meal! More to come tomorrow….

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Overall Heather Rating: 10/10

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