Dec 6, 2008

Yakitori

Fancy cooking demystified. I already did it with my Lemongrass Kabobs and I’m not afraid to do it again :)

You can find the most gorgeous creations online—beautiful dishes with fancy sounding names and difficult descriptions. Trust me when I say it’s often just great food styling, a lot of tricks that make the food look pretty but totally unedible (think soap and glycerin), using raw or only half cooked food combined with pretty photography to finish the illusion. When you see a photo of a piece of lasagna still having the most perfect decorative layers after it’s been cooked, you can bet your house on it it’s as fake as Pamela Anderson’s frontal assets. My photos aren’t always top of the bill, but what you see is how I it eat, albeit a little colder (climbs off soapbox:)

Let’s tackle one that (I personally think) looks and tastes like a million bucks, yet is so easy to make there’s simply no need to be intimidated at all. Kayotic Kitchen goes Japan!

The dish is called Yakitori. What are we talking about here? Simple grilled chicken on a stick with sauce. Seriously, that’s all it is. Nothing magical to it. It does have a great and unique flavor which comes from the slightly unorthodox way of preparing the marinade/sauce, but that’s a simple case of ‘toss it in a pan and boil it’. It doesn’t matter how you serve them, they just have the ‘wow‘ factor, but are so ridiculously simple anyone can make them.

Come on, I’ll show you!

Ingredients:

1 pound chicken fillets
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mirin (don’t panic:)
1 tsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves
drop of sesame oil
1/8 tsp cayenne

Optional: chili pepper
Optional: sesame seeds

Directions:

Start by cutting your chicken in bit-size pieces. Roughly 1 inch each.

I thawed 1 tsp ginger and grated 1 large garlic clove. Go for 2 smaller ones or 1 larger clove.

I’m using mirin, which is a Japanese rice wine. But before I even considered doing this photo posting, I wanted to know if I could turn it into a posting using ingredients more widely available. I found it. Simply substitute the mirin for 1/2 cup white wine (even sherry works) and add 3 tbsp extra sugar to the recipe.

Grab a pan and pour in the soy sauce, mirin (or wine), a tiny drop of sesame oil and add the sugar, ginger, garlic and cayenne. You can also add some finely minced chili pepper to the sauce and simply omit the cayenne. Whatever rocks your boat. Give everything a good stir and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. I even spike it with some orange zest at times, love the flavor it gives. Stir occasionally!

While the yakitori sauce is boiling, I’ll show you how I go about making my yakitori. You can simply put the chicken on a (wooden) skewer and grill them, they’ll be fabulous, I promise, but you can also make it look extra pretty by adding a little green.

*throws hands in the air* C’mon now, it’s me! I need green!

I’m going for a double yakitori. Just use 2 spring onions per yakitori and trim both ends.

Go for medium sized skewers and don’t bother putting them in water, it won’t prevent them from burning. Now thread 1 or 2 chicken pieces on a skewer, followed by one side of a spring onion. Top with more chicken pieces, one more spring onion and finish with another chicken piece.

Think about stirring your yakitori sauce every now and then, ok! The sauce will bubble when it’s stirred, this is perfectly normal.

Flip the skewer over and do the same with the other side using the spring onions that are already attached to the other skewer. Now you have fancy looking double yakitori. Easy, no?

Keep going on until you have precisely the amount you wanted. I went for 3 of them.

See what bubbles I’m talking about? The sauce will be done by now. Stir until all the bubbles are gone and divide the sauce over 2 different bowls. It will appear fairly thin, but that’s normal—once it has cooled off it will turn into a thick yet still liquid syrup. I usually apply the raw chicken marinade while it’s still a little more liquid—this will prevent the yakitori from easily burning during grilling.

Use one of the sauce bowls to marinade the raw chicken with and save the other one to baste the yakitori with after it’s cooked. You don’t want to mix those two up! I applied the marinade to one side.

Lightly oil a grill-plate or use the grill in your oven. Place the yakitori on the grill with the marinaded side down and lightly baste the other side. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes (until well done) while flipping them over every now and then and occasionally basting them.

Before serving them, baste them lightly with the ‘fresh’ cup of yakitori sauce that will have thickened by now, this will make them look slightly darker. You can sprinkle them with sesame seeds to make them look even prettier. These are so good with fried vegetable rice and satay sauce!

See how easy it is?


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    17 Comments »

    1. 1

      OOOOhhhhhh!!!! That looks wonderful. I am going to try it tonight. I wonder if I can find mirin here (Canada). I’ll let you know. I can’t wait . . . Yum.

      Vicky on Dec 6, 2008 @ 2:24 pm Reply
    2. 2

      Another winner – and thanks for testing with white wine – roads too icy today for venturing out and I have everything else and it sounds wonderfully refreshing after a week of soups – good soups, but time for a bit of change!

      And the fake food photography has nothing on your photos which make me want to immediately make most of the recipes you post!

      Ann from Montana on Dec 6, 2008 @ 2:41 pm Reply
    3. 3

      looks good. i used to order yakitori when i dine in japanese restaurants, but they always taste funny. i never thought of making them myself. it’s a great recipe for party’s too.
      I’m studying for food designer and i once saw a documentary on them and they revealed what you said. they use clay, shoe pollish etc, to make the foodlook good. but you are proving them all wrong by making these beautifull creations and with fresh yummy food. seriously you are an inspiration.

      akemi on Dec 6, 2008 @ 4:04 pm Reply
    4. 4

      Recently on a Chicago station, during a morning news show, there was a guest chef out on the plaza making some dessert thing. When it was time for one of the news guys to taste it, he took a bite and pronounced it delicious. He then tried the vanilla ice cream it was plated with. The camera panned away quickly.

      Whoops! It wasn’t ice cream, it was a big, beautiful scoop of Crisco! Yum!

      Peggasus on Dec 6, 2008 @ 5:12 pm Reply
    5. 5

      Looks good, but 1/2 what of Mirin — 1/2 cup? (or 1/2 bottle?)

      Betsy on Dec 6, 2008 @ 6:29 pm Reply
    6. 6

      Yummy ..it looks great..i love your fotography. May I ask what camera and lens you use? also I’m glad u mentioned about the lasagna looking great in fotos and that its all fake…..Ive been making lasagna a few times to post it and my fotos just show a messed up one on the plate…lol..altho its tastes really good…but because of the not perfect lasagna foto I have not posted it ..but thanks to you I just might inspite of the messy lasagna foto…(i really wanted the layers to show like in the magazines but u made me realise tt maybe its nt possible afterall).Thanks..

      Zurin on Dec 6, 2008 @ 6:47 pm Reply
    7. 7

      Betsy, that always seems to happen :)

      It’s 1/2 a cup.

      Kay on Dec 6, 2008 @ 7:07 pm Reply
    8. 8

      Zurin, I have a link named ‘photos’ right below the 6 thumbnails in the sidebar. It’s a little about the photography.

      No, unless you’re gonna use glue, mashed potatoes and lots of other tricks, it’s never gonna happen :)

      Kay on Dec 6, 2008 @ 7:08 pm Reply
    9. 9

      YUM! Yakitori, so good. I used to live in Portland, OR, and would eat in restaurants and make food like this a lot more. Then I moved to a small town, and for some reason all my more exotic Japanese, Thai, etc., food just went out the window–I pretty much dive for American Girl Potatoes and Beef comfort food in the last few months. I’ve made yakitori before, but I think I’m gonna try your recipe, it’s much prettier. :-) Also, for some reason this post also reminded me that I need to make my Pad Thai. Yum. Thanks for the reminder of all the yumminess out there!

      naomig on Dec 6, 2008 @ 7:45 pm Reply
    10. 10

      This is one of my favorites, simple and tasty!

      Kevin on Dec 6, 2008 @ 9:09 pm Reply
    11. 11

      I just made this tonight! I made a few adjustments, namely replacing mirin with seasoned rice wine vinegar (to give it that extra tang, and to help season) and, lacking skewers, I instead stir-fried the whole mess by itself. I also reduced the sugar quite a bit, which means my sauce stayed pretty thin, but yum! it tasted quite a lot like traditional teriyaki! I’m really interested to try this with lime juice / zest and real mirin to put a thai twist on it.

      Melissa on Dec 7, 2008 @ 2:22 am Reply
    12. 12

      Melissa, it works great with lime juice and zest or with orange juice and zest. Gives it a really fresh flavor. I once made it with less sugar as well, but really missed the syrupy marinade. That’s what makes it a real yakitori to me.

      Kay on Dec 7, 2008 @ 9:46 am Reply
    13. 13

      Thank you for guiding us thru’ this!

      Mrs Ergül on Dec 9, 2008 @ 3:58 am Reply
    14. 14

      Wonderful! I made this for my family and they LOVED it! I had planned for leftovers by making extra but everyone came back for seconds! Thanks for a great recipe! And I was able to find Mirin too! :)

      Vicky on Dec 13, 2008 @ 12:20 pm Reply
    15. 15

      Just tried this recipe and it was amazingly delicious. Never had yakitori sauce before. Tried it on pork chops last night (first time with chicken) and our guests raved over it. Thanks for the recipe!

      Becca on Mar 27, 2009 @ 4:41 pm Reply
    16. 16

      Looks so delicious! Do you have to use rice wine/wine, though? I can’t use alcohol in any of my cooking.

      Autumn on May 30, 2009 @ 4:17 pm Reply
    17. 17

      @Autumn:

      I honestly don’t know how you’d have to go about things if you’d leave out the Mirin. Never tried it, and doubt there’s a substitute for it, really. It’s kind of what makes the yakitori yakitory.

      Kay on May 30, 2009 @ 4:21 pm Reply

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