In case you missed yesterday’s Funtime Buntime post, you might want to check it out-it’s pretty darn cute.

Last week I was given some serious Asian inspiration.

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Sarah over at The Sugar Hit featured a killer Japan Week during which she posted some fantastic looking Japanese-inspired recipes.  I’m still drooling over her okonomiyaki and chocolate matcha fondants

Anyway, it got me thinking about another type of Japanese food that I really enjoy: yakitori.  Yakitori is a type of grilled skewered chicken, though in Japan it’s traditionally cooked over an open charcoal grill.

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While we were in Tokyo this past summer, a friend took us to a great yakitori restaurant.  It was a smoky little joint with a few seats right in front of the open grill, giving us a full view of the food preparation process.  Every time a customer emerged in the foyer from the stairs that led up from an unmarked door on the street, the entire staff would shout a chorus of welcomes.  You can see some of the eats here.

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A popular dish at yakitori restaurants is called tsukune.  Tsukune are chicken meatballs made with miso, sesame oil and scallions, cooked slowly over the grill and brushed repetitively with a basting sauce called tare.

I’ve made a few adjustments to the cooking process (I’m assuming most people don’t want to be outside standing over their charcoal grill) and the result is a batch of juicy, slightly sweet, tender meatballs that are wonderfully hearty.

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This is my new fall comfort food.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Apple Bars

Tsukune {Japanese Meatballs}

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Makes about 3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • FOR THE BASTING SAUCE:
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sake
  • 1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • one 1” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • FOR THE MEATBALLS:
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • ½ cup minced scallions (about 3)
  • 2 Tbsp red miso
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil

Instructions

  1. First make the tare sauce. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to about ½ cup, about 20-25 mins. Strain the sauce through a mesh sieve, saving the sauce in a small bowl and discarding the solids. Let the sauce cool while you make the meatballs.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add half of the ground chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is opaque and just cooked through, about 2-3 mins. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat; set aside,
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked chicken, remaining ground chicken, scallions, miso and sesame oil. Knead with your hands until a homogenous, sticky mixture forms, about 3-4 mins. (I wore latex gloves while doing this, you really do need to use your hands, stirring with a spoon will not be sufficient.)
  5. Divide the mixture into 12-16 evenly sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20-25 mins, brushing the meatballs with the tare after the first 5 mins, then every 5 mins afterward, flip the meatballs carefully with tongs and brush again with the tare. You want a nice glaze on those meatballs by the end.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve over rice or noodles, garnish with sesame seeds if desired and enjoy!
http://www.bashfulbao.com/2013/11/tsukune-japanese-meatballs/

Adapted from Bon Appetit

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