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Chicken Yakitori-Japanese Grilled Chicken

Chicken Yakitori- Japanese Grilled Chicken are bite-sized boneless chicken pieces skewered on bamboo sticks and grilled or broiled till cooked thoroughly. "Yakitori" is a Japanese word which means 'grilled chicken'. Traditionally, this is served as an appetizer in Japanese cuisine. After grilling, the "tare" sauce which consists of soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar is brushed on the cooked meat to add a sweet-savory onion-like flavor. This recipe was inspired by my friend Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. Serves 4.
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian, Filipino, Japanese
Keyword: Asian Japanese Chicken Yakitori
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 315kcal


  • Outdoor or indoor grill


  • 10 to 12 pieces bamboo barbecue skewers
  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs cut in thin 1-inch sized pieces
  • 8 to 9 stalks scallions sliced in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil for sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 1/4 cup sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar


  • Pre-soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. This avoids splinters to get into the meat and to avoid burning the skewers during grilling.
  • After 30 minutes, skewer 4 to 5 chicken pieces to each bamboo stick. Alternately, skewer the green part of the scallion between each chicken piece. Keep the skewered chicken in the refrigerator till ready to cook or grill.
  • Prepare the sauce by mixing together in a saucepan the vegetable oil, tamari gluten-free soy sauce, mirin, sake, water and brown sugar. Add the white parts of the scallions and boil together over medium high heat. When sauce boils, lower heat to a simmer. Continue cooking for about ten minutes till the sauce reduces to a thick consistency, almost like a syrup. Turn off heat and set the sauce aside for later.
  • Pre-heat outdoor grill to a medium high. Grill the skewered chicken for about 7 to 8 minutes on each side, turning to cook evenly and thoroughly. For safety reasons, chicken should be cooked completely.
  • As soon as chicken is cooked, remove from the grill. Brush the cooked sauce over the chicken pieces till glaze covers the meat completely. Serve warm as an appetizer.
  • To broil chicken: If outdoor grilling is not possible, my friend Namiko suggests broiling the chicken skewers. Broil the chicken in the oven on High for 6 minutes. Then brush the glaze over the meat. Broil for 4 minutes more. Plate the chicken and brush the cooked sauce just before serving.
  • To pan fry chicken: If outdoor grilling and broiling in the oven are not possible, you can pan fry the skewered chicken in a large skillet that can fit the entire stick. Over medium high heat, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and pan fry the skewered chicken for 6 minutes on each side till cooked thoroughly. Brush the sauce over the cooked chicken before serving.
  • COOK'S COMMENTS: Slice the chicken pieces as thinly as possible so they cook quickly and evenly. Some large Asian markets have meat sections with pre-sliced chicken pieces for these type of recipes. Or if there is a friendly Asian butcher in the meat section of the store, ask him to slice the chicken uniformly for you and specify for "yakitori" to get the right thin cut.
  • INGREDIENT INFO: Tamari which is gluten-free, is a low-sodium soy sauce. Sake (say "sah-keh") is the Japanese wine served with meals, made from rice in a double fermentation process that is similar to beer-making. Sake's alcoholic content is higher than most wines with an ABV of 15 to 20 % and has a clean, crisp, delicate flavor. Mirin is the Japanese cooking wine, with a lower alcohol and higher sugar content. Mirin's sweet flavor contrasts well with the slightly salty Tamari soy sauce.
  • SHOP FOR IT: The ingredients tamari gluten-free soy sauce, mirin and sake are bottled and can be purchased from online sources, too. For my readers convenience, you can shop for it on my Amazon affiliate page right here on the blog. The retail price stays the same for you. I earn a small commission from Amazon which goes to the ingredients and maintenance of the server. Thanks in advance for the support. CLICK HERE to buy ingredients.
  • PHOTOGRAPHY Credits: President Elpidio Quirino monument marker at Hibiya Park, Tokyo - taken by Tim Quirino; Our family photo by Pauline Q. Varanal; Kyoto shrine temple by Elizabeth Ann Quirino.

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    Serving: 1g | Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 1713mg | Potassium: 360mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 330IU | Vitamin C: 4.5mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1.8mg