Yakitori Skewers

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FOOD: Japanese at home: Yakitori Skewers

At the start of the year it was predicted that 2020 would be the moment we’d pick up our chopsticks and get stuck into Japanese cooking. But whilst there’s no less thirst for Japan’s healthy, umami-packed food, it’s not been as easy as we might has hoped to get to know our sushi from our soba. But whilst restaurants are closed and planes remain grounded, we can bring a taste of Japan to our kitchens with some simple home-cooking.

Add a Japanese kick to your barbecue this summer by serving up sizzling yakitori skewers – read on for our easy-to-follow recipe.

Popular in izakaya throughout Japan, yakitori are tasty chicken skewers, cooked over hot coals and more often than not, enjoyed with a tall glass of beer. Informal and inexpensive, there are a huge variety of yakitori skewers to try, using every part of the chicken from thigh to breast to wings, and for the more adventurous, skin, liver and even heart.

But if you’re looking to turn your back garden into your very own yakitori-ya this summer, we recommend starting with the more familiar cuts of meat, alongside some of Japan’s most popular vegetable yakitori, including whole shishito peppers, shitake mushroom and asparagus.



Chicken yakitori:

Chicken breast or boneless thigh

Leek or spring onion

Vegetable yakitori:

Shiitake mushrooms, fresh and whole

Spring onions


Firm tofu

Enoki Mushrooms

Bacon slices

Shishito peppers, whole


Yakitori sauce (tare):

Soy sauce, 150ml

Water, 100ml

Mirin rice wine, 2 tablespoons

Rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons

Light brown sugar, 130g

Garlic, 1 teaspoon, crushed

Ginger, 1 teaspoon, crushed

Potato starch, 5 teaspoons (optional)



Sesame seeds




Step 1:

Pre-soak a handful of bamboo skewers in a bowl of water, to prevent them from burning whilst cooking.

Step 2:

Make the yakitori sauce by adding all of the ingredients to a pan, gently heating and stirring until the sauce becomes smooth, thick and glossy. Set aside.

Step 3:

Meanwhile prepare your yakitori skewers. For chicken yakitori, cut all of your ingredients into bitesize pieces and thread onto your skewers, alternating between pieces of chicken and pieces of either leek or spring onion, depending on your preference.

Step 4:

To prepare your vegetable skewers, combine whole shiitake mushrooms with bitesize pieces of spring onion, chunks of firm tofu with bitesize pieces of asparagus and bundles of enoki mushrooms, wrapped in strips of bacon. Shishito peppers are best threaded whole, but across two skewers for stability whilst cooking.

Step 5:

Yakitori can either be cooked basted in tare sauce, or simply seasoned with salt. To baste, brush each skewer with yakitori sauce before transferring to a pre-heated barbecue grill. Choose an area with strong, even heat, oiling the grill in advance to avoid the skewers sticking.

Step 6:

Turn the skewers regularly to ensure they cook evenly, brushing more yakitori sauce onto the chicken or vegetables with each turn.

Step 7:

Remove from the grill once the chicken pieces are golden and the vegetables are thoroughly cooked. To serve, brush with a little more sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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