Recipe for a Staple Street-Food Snack: Yakitori
These chicken skewers with mushrooms are coated in a glaze made from 'mirin', rice wine, sugar, and soy sauce.
© Ryland Peters & Small
Takoyaki, imagawayaki, yakitori… the dishes served at yatai, Japanese street-food stands, are as delicious as they are good value. Yakitori, which literally translates as ‘grilled bird’, are chicken skewers cooked over a charcoal fire, and are without a doubt the most characteristic example of street food. Although they can be prepared and served in a more refined way, they are particularly popular in summer, the festival season in Japan, with hungry festival-goers.
The recipe presented in the collective work Street Food is for chicken and mushroom yakitori, coated in a glaze made from rice wine, mirin (a very sweet type of sake), white sugar, and soy sauce. The book advises that you use chicken breast, but in Japan, yakitori are often made using various parts of the chicken, the combination of different flavours adding a stronger character to this dish intended to be eaten while out and about.
16 white/Paris mushrooms, stems trimmed off
250 g boneless chicken breast, cut into short, thin strips
16 fresh shiitake mushrooms, halved, stems trimmed off
1 green (bell) pepper, seeded and cut into 2×2-cm squares
2 spring onions/scallions, cut into 2-cm lengths
Sliced red chilli, to garnish (optional)
50 ml/3 tablespoons rice wine or Amontillado sherry
50 ml/3 tablespoons mirin
50 ml/3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 metal skewers or wooden skewers soaked in water
Make the yakitori glaze by placing the rice wine or sherry, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute until melted together into a syrupy glaze. Turn off the heat.
Thread the white/Paris mushrooms, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, green (bell) pepper and spring onions/scallions onto the eight skewers.
Preheat a grill/broiler to medium–high heat. Brush the skewers generously with the yakitori glaze and then grill the skewers for eight–ten minutes until the chicken is cooked through, brushing repeatedly with the glaze and turning over the skewers halfway through. Serve at once, garnished with the red chilli, if desired.
Street Food (2020), a collective work compiling recipes from different chefs, is published by Ryland Peters & Small, and is currently only available in English.
© Ryland Peters & Small
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