Next time you’re craving Japanese food, whether it’s sushi or noodles or curry, stay home and make it yourself! Recipe developer and cookbook author Amy Kaneko’s new book, Let’s Cook Japanese Food, is a collection of recipes that take you through the steps required to make authentic meals at home. Dinner tonight: grilled chicken and onion skewers.
This simple recipe is good with salt (shio yakitori) or with sauce (tare yakitori). You can prepare half the recipe with the salt and half the recipe with the sauce to have the best of both worlds.
Basting Sauce (optional)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of visible fat and meat cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 yellow onion, cut into 2-inch wedges
- 4-5 baby leeks, white part only, cut into 1-inch lengths (optional)
- 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
- salt (optional)
For the skewers
Submerge 10-12 bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or a medium-high fire in a gas grill, or preheat the broiler.
To make the basting sauce (if using), in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid just begins to turn syrupy, 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside in a small bowl.
Drain the skewers. Alternately thread pieces of chicken, onion, and leek (if using) onto the skewers. Brush the skewers lightly on all sides with the oil and place on a plate.
If using salt instead of the basting sauce, place the skewers over the hottest part of the grill and cook, turning 3 or 4 times, until the chicken is cooked through and the onions are scorched around the edges, about 5 minutes total. Sprinkle each skewer with salt and remove from the grill.
If using the basting sauce, dip each skewer in the sauce or brush the sauce onto the skewers. Place the skewers over the hottest part of the grill and cook, turning 3 or 4 times. Baste with additional sauce each time, until the chicken is cooked through and the onions are scorched around the edges, about 5 minutes total. Move the skewers to a cooler part of the grill if the sauce appears to burn.
Serve the skewers piping hot.