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!
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
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?