Quick Bites from Pender

Chicken Yakitori

In Recipes on March 29, 2010 at 5:01 am


Spring is here; summer`s coming.  Get ready for an international street meat extravaganza here on IV!

There are a couple of reasons I am starting in Japan with Yakitori:

  • from the ages of 7-11, my VERY FAVOURITE RESTAURANT in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD was Maiko Gardens.  Kimonos, tabi socks, tatami rooms and sukiyaki cooked at the table — very exotic for the 70`s
  • my first solo adventure in life was a hitchhiking adventure around Japan when I was 18.  I ate a lot of yakitori on that journey —  I`m a bit of a yakitori aficionado, if you know what I`m saying…

Traditionally, yakitori is boneless pieces of meat served on skewers — but I`m very partial to the beautiful organic game hens at Medicine Beach Market (MBM).  They can be a bit finicky to eat if you leave the bones in, so I removed the rib, keel and thigh bones before cooking.  I then roasted those very bones to make the yakitori taré (sauce).

I quartered the hens, seasoned with s+p, and grilled them on our grill pan over the stove.  (If we had a gas barbecue, I would have used that –it`s still too old to get out the charcoal grill.)

For the vegetarian/vegan crowd out there, I would imagine grilled firm tofu (always organic) would be amazing as well.  I may try that myself next time.


The taré recipes I found use both sake and mirin.  I have yet to find mirin in Victoria, and it ain`t never gonna happen on Pender, the grocery store doesn`t have the shelf space.  Not that it matters — mirin is simply sweetened sake — 3 parts sake to 1 part sugar.

Armed with that knowledge, I forged ahead with my own recipe, sans mirin.

Yakitori Taré (Sauce)

Yield:  1 Cup

Chicken Bones 7 oz 200 g
Sake 1½ C 375 ml
Soya Sauce 1 C 30-45 ml
Sugar ½ C 125 ml

oz=ounce      g=grams       C=Cup       ml=millilitres        TT=to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F

Trim the bones of fat and skin, and roast until well browned – 20-30 min.  Turn the bones halfway through.

Pour the fat from the pan.  Heat the pan, with bones, over a med-high stove.  When sizzling loudly, add the sake and soya sauce and bring to the boil.  Pour in the sugar, stirring well to dissolve.

Reduce the sauce at a brisk boil over med heat, until thick and syrupy, and approx 1 cup in volume.  (About 30-40 minutes.)  Strain into a clean sauce pan and skim fat from the surface as needed.   Discard the bones, or use them to make an Asian flavoured brown chicken stock.

Use a pastry brush to liberally mop the warm sauce over grilled skewers of chicken or beef.  You can also toss whole pieces of grilled chicken in the sauce.

Cool leftover sauce and store, covered in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.   Reboil for 2 minutes prior to serving.


I also got some local young cabbage greens from MBM — heavenly when quickly sauteed in a little olive oil with some garlic, then deglazed with white wine.  Season with s+p, and you have a very tasty vegetable to serve in between some sticky rice and your shiny, sticky, caramel-soy glazed chicken.



  1. Thanks for this recipe – it’s like seeing an old friend. When I lived in Japan I hated sushi (which I now love since I moved away, of course) and so I sustained myself on yakitori and bowls of steamed rice. Haven’t had it in a while – I’ll try this out!

  2. T! Your site is fantastic keep up the good work!!

  3. This looks absolutely delicious!! Makes me hungry 🙂

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