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Chicken Yakitori with Honey Sauce

Chicken yakitori is Japanese grilling simplicity at its best, in which skewered thigh meat, cooked quickly over very hot coals, is served with a dipping sauce.–William Cooper

LC You Say Yakitori...Note

You can tweak this nifty little weeknight number to suit your time-frame and your tastes. Because the eminently quick chicken skewer recipe requires just a quick brush of sauce at the end, you can multitask and make dinner in minutes by grilling the chicken while the sauce reduces on the stove-top. And if you like things slightly sweet, a little salty, with just a hint of Japanese aromatics, then there’s no jiggering necessary. Not got a sweet tooth? Cut back a little on the honey. Prefer a little heat? Toss a long, slender red chile in the sauce. One of our testers brilliantly used the aromatics strained from the sauce—that is, the ginger, garlic, and scallion—and tossed together a quick fried rice to go on the side. Another tester simply drizzled the rest of the sauce over rice. Oh, the places you’ll go…

Chicken Yakitori with Honey Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup light (that is to say, low-sodium) soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin or other rice wine
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 3 tablespoons honey (or a little less, if you haven’t a sweet tooth)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Salt
  • Sesame oil for brushing
  • 24 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

Directions

  • 1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, honey, garlic, ginger, and scallions and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened and maybe even a little glossy, 10 to 20 minutes. Strain the sauce into a bowl and set aside or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • 2. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Unfold the thighs and, using a sharp knife, slice each thigh into strips about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. You should have about 72 strips, although the size and number of strips will depend on the size of thighs. (We’ve noticed that thighs on chickens tend to vary almost as widely as those on people, so if you end up with more or fewer strips, don’t worry.) Thread 3 or 4 chicken pieces onto each soaked skewer, without crowding them, then lightly season the chicken with salt and lightly brush them with the oil.
  • 3. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat. Brush and oil the grill grate.
  • 4. Grill the chicken yakitori skewers directly over high heat, turning once, until well marked and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Arrange the skewers on a platter. Brush or drizzle the chicken skewers with some of the honey sauce. Pass the remaining sauce on the side for drizzling and dipping at the table.
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