Yakitori is traditional for Hanami, but it’s also classic street food. This recipe calls for boneless skinless pieces of chicken, but in Japanese yakitori stalls, skewers are also pierced with ground chicken meatballs, chicken hearts and livers, and other bits and pieces, such as tailpieces. My husband is so fond of yakitori that he bought a special ceramic yakitori grill, but it’s just as good made on regular gas or charcoal grills. The classic teriyaki marinade is delicious, but I’m especially fond of the tangerine version below, a variation on one from barbeque maestro Steven Raichlan.
- About 2 lbs. chicken, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Trimmed scallions cut into 1-inch lengths, white and light green parts only, optional
- Bamboo skewers, soaked in hot water for at least 1 hour
- Toasted sesame seeds (black or white) for garnish
Classic Teriyaki Marinade
- 1/2 c. soy sauce, preferably Kikkoman
- 1 T. brown sugar or honey
- 1 tsp. grated ginger or ginger juice
- 2 T. peanut oil OR 1 T. peanut oil and 1 T. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
Combine the marinade ingredients in a resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag and squish the contents around until the brown sugar or honey has dissolved.
Tangerine Teriyaki Marinade
- 1 c. fresh tangerine juice OR 1/2 c. tangerine or orange/tangerine juice concentrate
- 1/2 c. naturally brewed soy sauce, such as Kikkoman
- 1/3 c. honey
- Zest from one tangerine OR ½ oz. dried tangerine peel, crumbled
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/4 c. minced shallot or onion (NOT super-sweet)
- 1 T. minced fresh ginger
- a 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
- 3 T. sesame oil (dark/roasted/Asian)
using fresh tangerine juice, place juice in a small saucepan over high
heat and boil until juice is reduced by half. Add the remaining
ingredients (including the juice concentrate if using instead of the
fresh juice), bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and cook for
about 15 minutes, or until thickened and syrupy. Remove from the heat
and let come to room temperature before marinating the chicken.
Place the marinade of your choice in a resealable plastic bag with the cut up chicken, squish out as much air as possible, and let marinate for at least one hour, and up to three hours.
Preheat the grill to high.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Thread the chicken onto the skewers, alternating each piece of chicken with a piece of scallion if you choose. Leave enough space so diners can hold on to the ends.
Place a doubled-up length of foil over one side of the grill so that the skewer bottoms don’t burn.
Grill the skewers, brushing them frequently with the reserved marinade, until well browned on the outside and cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with the reserved sesame seeds.
Tangerine Teriyaki Marinade adapted from a recipe in Barbeque USA, by Steven Raichlen.