Yakitori is a dish made from grilled chicken, however, it is unique in that it is intended to refrain from waste and as such, uses all parts of the chicken. This includes the liver and the heart of the chicken. This idea of using all parts of the chicken (or other ingredients) is connected to a specific concept in Japanese culture to avoid waste.
Yakitori involves chicken cut into small pieces and grilled on a skewer over coals. It has been part of Japanese cuisine since the middle of the 17th century. Like tempura, it can often be portably prepared and is therefore considered a convenient food. That being said, it does require some preparation. The chicken is cut into bite-size pieces that are all roughly the same size and then placed on a skewer making it easier to grill. The skewer itself can be made from steel, or sometimes bamboo. The type of seasoning put on the Yakitori chicken may vary. Most commonly, however, it falls into the categories of sweet or salty-sweet. Sometimes, spicy elements can be added incorporating wasabi and cayenne pepper along with soy sauce, sake, and mirin to create marinades for the meat.
How To Cook
There are also a variety of ways to cook the meat. But, they all evolve from the same simple principle of cooking over hot heat. Traditionally, Yakitori is prepared over charcoal but in modern-day cooking, gas and electric options provide convenience and ease. Several at-home kitchen devices are designed specifically to prepare Yakitori at home. From mini-grills to larger-scale electric elements, many Japanese homes will include these appliances. The best practice and arguably the most delicious way to prepare it is over hot charcoal, which adds an extra subtle grill flavor.
There is a range of Yakitori tastes and flavors, as specific pieces of meat often have different textures, and the sauces can elevate the overall flavor and experience. Yakitori is a staple of Japanese cuisine and is enjoyed as quick and inexpensive street food and in fine-dining restaurants. It is worth tasting it in a few different places to experience the unique varieties and nuances of different sauces and grilling techniques. We also recommend pairing it with an ice-cold Japanese beer!