Anyone who has had the opportunity to visit the intricate network of yakitori stalls in Tokyo will always savor the experience. Customers stand informally around counters drinking beer and eating continuously from the charcoal braziers lined with skewered meats and vegetables; chicken is the most popular. This is my slightly simplified version of this classic dish.
- 1½ pounds boned chicken thighs or breasts, skin removed
- 10 scallions, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 3 medium green peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares
- 14 6-inch bamboo skewers, softened about 1 hour in cold water to cover
- 1 tablespoon canola or corn oil
- 1 cup soy sauce
- ½ cup sweetened rice wine (mirin)
- ½ cup sake
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- ¾ teaspoon dried chile flakes
1. Mix the Yakitori Marinade ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Cool slightly.
2. Trim the chicken of any fat or gristle. Cut into ½-inch cubes. Thread the chicken, scallions, and green peppers alternately onto the skewers, starting and ending with the green peppers. Place the skewered chicken in a flat pan. Pour the warm marinade on top, cover with plastic wrap, and let the chicken and vegetables marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
3. Heat a heavy skillet or a grill, brush the surface with the oil and heat until very hot. Cook batches of the skewered chicken and vegetables over high heat about 3½ to 4 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch on both sides, turning once. Baste the chicken and vegetables several times with the marinade as it cooks. Brush the pan or grill with more oil as needed. Remove the cooked meat and arrange on a serving platter. Serve as an appetizer, or as an entrée with steamed rice.