Friday, April 22, 2016

Chicken Yakitori

It's that time of year again!

The weather is getting warm. Our days have been in 70's and 80's this whole week. Our forecast shows nary a night under 40º. It's those days when the sun is beating down on your shoulders and you have an ice cold beer in your hand that grilling is just... the best.

I mean, who wants to stand over a hot stove when the weather has just begun to break? I don't. The garden is just starting to grow and flowers are in bloom. If I can sit outside in a lawn chair and flip dinner every once in while, oh yeah, I'm gonna do it. 

Yakitori is a grilled chicken kebab, smothered in a delectable marinade/sauce. It's a popular street food in Japan, and one I've been making for years. I can't believe I haven't shared the recipe before, but I scoured the blog and it appears this is a recipe that has fallen through the cracks. Well, no longer!

This is a very versatile chicken dish. Meaning, I've made this with all kinds of cuts of chicken. I've made it with chicken breasts- some by cutting the chicken in bite size pieces threaded onto skewers, and some just by cutting the breast into thin strips. I've made these with boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into chunks. I must say, you do get a ton of flavor using chicken thighs. 

For this batch though, I used chicken tenders.

I actually had chicken tenders on hand in the freezer, so I did a quick defrost on them. I like to quickly defrost meat by putting it in a cold water bath. I find it usually takes about an hour to defrost the chicken this way. An hour might not seem quick, but it's the quickest way to defrost the chicken without partially cooking it or changing the flavor. 

The marinade calls for mirin, or sweet rice wine. I can't find mirin in the grocery stores in my area. I suppose I could order some from Amazon, but I haven't got around to it yet. My workaround for mirin is a half-and-half mixture of rice vinegar and dry white wine. Works like a charm. 

After mixing the marinade, completely coat the chicken in it. I have a Food Saver marinator, but by all means, use a Ziplock bag or some other tupperware to marinate in. 

If you use wood skewers for this dish, don't forget to soak them in water for 30-45 minutes pre-grill. Trust me!  You can see how black the skewers get when they are soaked, but they just catch on fire when you haven't soaked them. Or, you could use metal skewers and not even worry about fire. 

After I threaded the chicken onto skewers, I reserved the marinade. I placed it in a small saucepan, and brought it to a boil for 3 minutes. I wanted to use the marinade to baste the chicken, but you know, it had raw chicken in it. Bringing the marinade to a boil will kill all the bacteria, plus thicken the sauce up nicely to use as a baste. 

Ready for basting!

One of my favorite sides for any Asian-inspired dish is baby bok choy. I like to quarter the small plants, brush them with olive oil, season them with salt and pepper, and then just sear them on the stove. 3-4 minutes is plenty of time to impart a little bit of tenderness into the bok choy. 

Steam up some rice, and you are set!

I highly recommend this flavorful dish. It's perfect for grilling season and/or for eating out on the patio. Plus, it's on a stick! Plenty of finger fun :-)

This week has been crazy y'all! I feel like I haven't had a second to spare. Monday and Tuesday were spent gathering plants from Lowe's to plant in the yard. Wednesday included errands and a visit at my sister-in-law's, and Thursday, well, it seemed gone in the blink of an eye. Today, I meet with the back surgeon. I was half-expecting a cancellation call yesterday, which thankfully didn't happen. The schedule doesn't stop there as both of our nephews have baseball games and we are having a family cookout tomorrow. On top of all this, we just had 4 truckloads of dirt dumped in our driveway to even out the darn yard before we build our fence. It feels like there's enough work for 4 families on our tiny 2 acres. 

It's that time of year again- busy, busy, busy!

Have a great day everyone, and hopefully you all have lovely weather this wonderful weekend!

Recipe adapted from: Cooking Light

Ingredients (serves 4):

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp dry white wine
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb chicken tenders, uncooked
5 green onions, cut into fourths


1. Combine soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, wine, ginger, red pepper, and garlic in large Ziplock bag. Add chicken tenders to the bag and shake to combine. Place bag in the fridge and marinate for 4 hours, turning occasionally. Remove bag from fridge 30 minutes before you grill them, to allow the tenders to come to room temperature. 
2. One hour before grilling, soak 10-12 wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. If using metal skewers, disregard this step.
3. Once tenders have sat at room temp, thread a piece of green onion onto a skewer. Then thread a chicken tender. And finally, place another green onion on the skewers. Repeat until you've skewered all the tenders. Reserve the marinade!
4. Place reserved marinade in a small sauce-pan. Bring marinade to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside.
5. Heat gas grill to high. When the grill is hot, turn middle burner to medium and outer burners to low. Place skewers on the grill and grill for 4 minutes. Flip the skewers and baste them generously with the cooked marinade. Cook for another 4 minutes, then remove from heat. Allow to rest for 5-8 minutes, and then serve.

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Linked to: Weekend Potluck


  1. Thank you for the recipe and for the substitution for the mirin, it is hard to find here too. I will definitely be making this one this BBQ season! I hope your appointment went well with the back surgeon. Back pain is awful. My hubby has degenerative disk disease (as does his father) and my back is just plain messed up with sciatica and compressed disks. I actually shrank with each of my pregnancies. I used to be 5'7" but am now 5'5". What I lost in height, I gained in shoe size. I went from a size 7 to a size 8 1/2. LOL! Oh well, my kids were all worth it. ;)

    1. You'll love this on the BBQ this summer, I promise!

      The doctor told me yesterday that I do have degenerative disk disease compressing my bottom disc next to the SI joint. I also have the shooting leg pain from this occurring. Argh. That's crazy that you shrank but gained in shoe size, I don't think I've ever heard that before! One more thing to look forward to about getting older, eh? Ha ha :-)

      Have a great weekend Debbie!

  2. My husband has really been getting into grilling, so I am sharing this recipe with him right away :) It sounds wonderful! And grilled bok choy? I have to try this!

    Hope your appt went well!

    1. I think your hubby will like this recipe, I know mine does. Let's face it though, my hubby loves anything we put on the grill, ha ha :-)


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