Yakitori are a traditional style of Japanese kebabs. They're usually served by street vendors and accompanied by a nice cold beer after a long day at work. For a cookout, these grilled chicken and scallion kebabs make the perfect appetizer, though they also work as a main course, depending on your needs. Marinaded in a combination of soy sauce, sake, ginger, and chives, they're full of flavor, moist, and tender. They're particularly delicious when dipped in warm soy sauce.
Preparing the yakitori is quick and easy. You will need to allow about an hour for the chicken to marinade. At the same time, soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least one hour to prevent them from burning on the grill. This recipe should fill 10 bamboo skewers, though it's good to have a few extra ready.
- 1 cup/240 mL soy sauce (divided)
- 1/2 cup/120 mL sake (or dry sherry)
- 2 teaspoons/10 mL sugar (white granulated)
- 1 tablespoon/15 mL ginger root (fresh; peeled and grated)
- 2 tablespoons/30 mL chives (chopped)
- 2 pounds/900 g chicken breast fillets (trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 12 scallions (white portions only, cut into large pieces)
Gather the ingredients.
In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup/120 mL soy sauce with the sake (or dry sherry), sugar, ginger, and chives. Mix well, ensuring the sugar is dissolved.
Place chicken pieces and half of the marinade in a resealable plastic bag. Toss to coat and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Reserve the remaining marinade for grilling.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from the marinade and thread onto skewers, alternating the chicken with the scallions. Discard the marinade.
Place the skewers on the hot grill. Brush with the reserved marinade during the first 2 to 4 minutes and grill for a total of about 6 to 8 minutes (internal temperature of 165 F), turning the skewers a few times.
In a small saucepan, heat up the remaining 1/2 cup/120 mL of soy sauce to use for dipping.
Serve and enjoy!
- Always discard the marinade that the raw chicken was soaking in to avoid bacterial contamination.
- The kebabs can be assembled the day before. Keep them refrigerated and in a large pan that will catch the dripping marinade.
- The cooked chicken should be golden brown. To keep them authentic, avoid charring as it's not desired in Japanese cooking.
- Use other vegetables in place of (or along with) the scallions. Leeks are equally popular for yakitori, though other onions, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, and squash can be added to kebabs.
- In a similar chicken yakitori recipe, the marinade's chives and white sugar are replaced with mirin and brown sugar. Making both varieties can add interest to your cookout without extra work.