Yakitori are Japanese meat skewers usually consisting of different parts of the chicken such as breast meat, thigh, skin and liver, grilled typically over charcoal to give it its signature smoky flavor. Often found at izakaya (Japanese style pub) and food stalls at festivals, yakitori are popular and there are many specialized restaurants called yakitori-ya, serving different varieties such as vegetables and beef.
Yakitori are made by cutting meat in bite sized pieces and skewering the meat on bamboo skewers. They are then grilled over an open fire using charcoal giving it its characteristic charcoal flavor. After that they are either brushed with a special sweet soy based glaze called tare or seasoned with ‘shio’, Japanese for salt. Other seasoning such as black pepper or Togarashi, Japanese pepper, are also often used. Popular varieties of yakitori include, momo, juicy chicken thigh meat on a skewer. Negima, chicken thigh meat alternated with cut leaks on a skewer giving it a sweet crunchy bite to it. Popular among children are tsukune, small chicken meatballs on a skewer covered in sweet tare. And kawa, pieces of chicken skin skewered together and seasoned with either tare or shio. Other varieties include grilled piman (Japanese green pepper) filled with minced meat and asparagus wrapped in bacon.
When you go to a specialized yakitori-ya, you will often be asked if you would like your yakitori to be seasoned with tare or shio upon ordering. Yakitori are considered a type of street food and can be eaten with your hand holding the skewer. Special skewer holders to discard used skewers are usually found on the tables of places like a yakitori-ya. Interested how to make yakitori? Come join our cooking class and learn how to make this Japanese favorite.