This post (and recipe) is dedicated to the life and memory of a good friend of mine, Tomoaki Sawada, a.k.a. Sawada-san. I had been working with him for several years, and met him multiple times here and in Japan. Every time, he had been so good to me. He liked good food, and he liked to drink, Sake, and Shoju. I made that recipe today, but was not planning to post for a while, but this is only fitting that I post today.
I first had Yakitori – literally translates to grilled chicken – in the smallest place in a back alley in Tokyo. The place could sit maybe 5 people, but the food was sumptuous. They have a tiny grill, and they can’t cook for more than 2 or 3 at a time, and they used ice cubes to clean the grill, quite an experience. So you don’t have to fly to Tokyo, here’s a recipe that should get close.
Ingredients for Yakitori – grilled chicken
– 2 chicken breasts, 8-10 oz. each, skinless boneless (Organic does taste better!)
– a bunch of green onions (scallions), cut into 2 inches segments
– bamboo skewers
– 1/2 cup soy sauce
– 1/2 cup sake
– 1/2 cup sweet rice wine (Mirin)
– 1/4 tsp ground ginger
– 2 garlic cloves, chopped very finely
– 3 TBSP sugar
– aluminum foil
Steps for the Yakitori
– wash the chicken, pat dry with paper towels, and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips
– wash and cut the scallions into 2 inches strips
– skewer the chicken strips and scallions onto a pair of bamboo skewers (using 2 makes it easy to turn over). You may also place the scallions on separate skewers as they do not need to cook as much.
– in a small sauce pan, mix in the soy sauce, Sake, Mirin, ginger, garlic, and sugar.
– bring to a boil, then reduce about half till the sauce is a bit sirupy
– set aside about 1/3 of the sauce
– meanwhile, preheat your grill to high
– clean and oil your grate when it is hot enough
– place some aluminum foil to protect the exposed part of the skewers
– place the skewers on the grill
– after 3 minutes, turn the skewers over and brush with some of the sauce
– keep turning the skewers every couple minutes and brush with more sauce
– the whole grilling process should take 8-10 minutes depending on your grill and the thickness of the chicken
– serve immediately with the sauce you set aside
Sawada-san, this one’s for you!