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.
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.
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.
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.
This is my new fall comfort food.
One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Apple Bars
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat; set aside,
- 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.)
- Divide the mixture into 12-16 evenly sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- 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.
- Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve over rice or noodles, garnish with sesame seeds if desired and enjoy!
Adapted from Bon Appetit