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Video #0007 – Japanese Classic Cuisine: Yakitori

Yes, I’m taking another break from audio podcasting. Today I show you how to make a classic Japanese dish that you’ve probably had many times before, Yakitori.


  • 1 package chicken thighs (about 6 pieces)
  • 1 small bundle green onions (negi)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 6 tbsp. sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 2 tbsp. mirin (Japanese sweet cooking sake)


  1. Soak skewers in water, at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Combine soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar; cook until boiling.  Boil about 1 minute then set aside.
  3. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces (about 1 inch or so), removing bones if necessary. Peel off the skin, and trim any excess fat and skin with the knife.
  4. Thread chicken and negi onto skewers, alternating between chicken and negi.
  5. Cook over charcoal or bake in an oven (I usually set it to 350 degrees).
  6. Cook until meat is firm but not tough, and/or an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees.


  • Those of you wishing to avoid alcohol can leave it out of the sauce. The taste won’t be quite the same, but should still be good. Also, mirin is available in a version without alcohol as well (basically has the flavor of mirin without the alcohol).
  • If desired, lightly sprinkle salt and pepper (to taste) on the skewers before coating with sauce.
  • If you’ve got the time, marinate your chicken and negi in the sauce. Let it soak at least 1 hour, preferably all day (prepare it in the morning, eat it for dinner).
  • For improved texture and to caramelize the sauce, finish your yakitori under the broiler for an additional 5 minutes or so at the end.
  • Boneless skinless thighs can sometimes be found in your market’s frozen foods section.
  • Some people like to shake some toasted sesame seeds on them right before serving.
  • It goes well with edamame (soybeans in the shell).  And, of course, beer.
  • Traditionally, yakitori is made with just about every part of the bird, including the innards (gizzards, etc.).  I’m not really a big fan of chicken innards (as I suspect is true of much of the American viewing audience), so I leave them out.

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