Yumiko's Home Cooking: YAKITORI Featured

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  • Tuesday, 01 June 2021 00:05
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Yumiko's Home Cooking: YAKITORI

Prep Time:30 min

Cook Time:15 min

Total Time:45 min

Yakitori is a Japanese skewered chicken cooked on a grill with either sweet soy sauce or just salt. You do not marinate the chicken before cooking. It's great for entertaining a big crowd, as it is a kind of finger food and it is easy to make. In this recipe, you will learn how to make the two most common yakitori: negima (chicken and shallots or scallions) and momo (plain chicken thigh) with sweet soy sauce. The recipe also includes different methods of grilling yakitori – on a yakitori griller or barbecue, or using the oven grill or broiler.

Serves:12 skewers


Ingredients:(tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)

  • 12 bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes (see note 1)
  • 500 g (1 lb) chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2.5cm (1”) cubes (see note 2)
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) shallots/scallions, white and green firm parts only, cut into 3.5 mm/11⁄2”


  • 75 ml (2.5 oz) soy sauce (normal Japanese soy sauce) 75 ml (2.5 oz) mirin
  • 1 tbsp sugar


  1. Add sauce ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium or medium low and simmer for about five minutes to reduce the quantity by about a third (see note 3).

Making yakitori skewers

  1. To make momo (chicken thigh), thread around five pieces of chicken onto the skewers.
  2. To make negima yakitori skewers, start with the chicken and alternately thread the chicken pieces and shallots or scallions, ending with chicken. I put four chicken pieces with three shallots or scallions, but you could have three pieces of chicken with two shallots or scallions (see note 4).

Grilling on yakitori griller or barbecue(using grill, not the plate)

  1. The distance between the hot charcoal and where the skewers are placed should be about 5-6cm (2-21⁄2 inches) (see note 5).
  2. In the case of a barbecue, oil (not in ingredients) the grill first.
  3. Using a brush, baste both sides of the skewers with sauce and cook for four to five minutes.
  4. Turn it over and baste the cooked side while cooking three to four minutes.
  5. Turn it over again and baste the up side (cooked side) while cooking for 30 seconds or so.
  6. Turn it over once more to cook for 30 seconds or so (see note 6).
  7. Remove from the griller and place it onto a plate. Serve immediately.

Grilling under the oven grill or broiler

  1. Turn the oven grill on high.
  2. Line a large baking tray with aluminum foil (see note 7). Place a wire rack on top and oil the rack (not in ingredients).
  3. Using a brush, baste both sides of skewers with sauce and place the skewers on the rack. I used 70 cm x 26 cm/14½ inch x 10¼ inch baking tray and I was able to fit all of the skewers.
  4. Place the baking tray under the oven grill. The distance between the skewers and the grill should be about 5 cm/2 inches.
  5. Cook for five to six minutes, then take the tray out and turn the skewers over.
  6. Baste the cooked side of the skewers and place the tray back under the grill.
  7. Cook for four to five minutes, then take the tray out and turn the skewers over again.
  8. Baste the cooked side of the skewers and place the tray back under the grill.
  9. Cook for a minute or until the chicken and shallots or scallions start to char.
  10. If required, turn the skewers over once more to get the other side charred.
  11. Remove the skewers from the tray and place them onto a plate. Serve immediately.


  1. I used thin, round bamboo skewers measuring 15 cm (6 inches), but you can use skewers that are longer or even flat skewers. I find that thin round skewers are the easiest for threading on the chicken pieces. Soaking the bamboo skewers is very important. It prevents the skewers from getting burnt too quickly when grilled. The number of skewers required varies depending on how many pieces of chicken and shallots or scallions you have. In my case, I had 49 chicken pieces and 24 shallots or scallion pieces. Because I made four chicken pieces with three shallots or scallions on each skewer, I ended up with eight skewers of negima (chicken and shallots or scallions) and three of momo (chicken thigh). You can do any combination of chicken and shallot or scallion.
  2. I bought thigh fillets without skin. I sometimes use the thigh with skin, which is equally delicious. You can also use chicken breast or a mixture of both.
  3. Depending on the size of the pot, the time taken to reduce the sauce varies.
  4. If any shallots or scallions are left over, you could make a skewer of shallots or scallions!
  5. Depending on the griller or barbecue, you may need to adjust the distance or spacing depending on the temperature. The heat should be medium high to high.
  6. I basted twice on each side, but you can turn them over once more and add another coating of sauce if you prefer a stronger flavor.
  7. If you don’t line the baking tray with aluminum foil, the sauce will drop directly onto the tray and burn. Line it so that you don’t have to clean up a mess later.
  8. Nutrition information is for one skewer, assuming 12 skewers were made with an equal distribution of ingredients.

The complete article can be found in Issue #280 of the Tokyo Journal.

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