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Chicken Yakitori with Homemade Glaze

20 May 2024

I’ve been a fan of Japanese food for as long as I remember, there’s just something about the flavours that are always in balance, true umami flavours. I love figuring out how to make sauces and marinades which taste authentic and this recipe for yakitori glaze from @justonecookbook hits the spot.

I grilled the chicken skewers in a grill pan to get them nice and charred, while glazing every few minutes, but you could also grill them in the oven. 

Chicken Yakitori with Homemade Glaze

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Dinner, lunch, snack Japanese
By Saffron Serves: 12 skewers
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour


  • Yakitori Sauce (“Tare“)
  • ½ cup light soy sauce
  • ½ cup mirin
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • Chicken Skewers
  • 4- 5 spring onions
  • 500 g boneless & skinless chicken thighs
  • Vegetable oil (for brushing the wire rack)
  • 12 wooden or bamboo skewers


The prep


Soak the bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning.


Separate the green parts from the white parts. Roughly shop the green parts and set aside. Slice the whit parts into even pieces, 3-4 cm length and set aside.

The Yakitori sauce


Add all the sauce ingredients to a small sauce pan and also add the green parts of the spring onion.


Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat down to low and ket it bubble away, uncovered, until it's reduced to about one-third, ± 30 minutes.


Let it cool to room temperature, it will thicken a bit once cooled (you can make this sauce ahead of time if you like, it will keep for up to 3 months in an air tight jar in the fridge).


Divide the sauce into 2 portions: 1 for brushing the chicken and 1 to keep clean serve separately.

The Yakitori


Slice the chicken thighs into 3 cm blocks. Fold a slice of chicken in half and skewer through the meat so it stays folded. If you have longer slices just repeat the folds so it's kind of zig-zagging.


Then skewer a piece of white spring onion right through the middle. Repeat so you have 3 slices of chicken and 2 spring onions per skewer.

Option 1: Grilling


Line a baking tray with aluminium foil (for easy clean up) an place an oven-safe wire rack on top. Brush some oil in the wire rack to prevent sticking.


Place the skewers onto the wire rack in 2 rows.


Preheat the grill to high (this will take 4-5 minutes) and place the baking tray, at mid height, in the oven.


Grill for 6 minutes then brush the skewers with the yakitori glaze. Flip the skewers and brush the other side with the glaze as well.


Place back in the oven and grill for 3-4 minutes to caramelise the sauce.


Finally repeat this last step 1 more time: glaze the skewers, flip them, and glaze the other side and grill for another 2 minutes until nice and charred.

Option 2: Pan fry


Heat a large heavy based skillet or frying pan and when hot add 1 tbsp vegetable oil.


Place the skewers in the pan in a single layer (you might need to cook in batches).


Cook until both sides are nice and charred, about 5 minutes each side.


Add the sauce to the pan toss well to coat and let bubble away to let the sauce caramelise. Remove from the heat.


To Pan-Fry the Yakitori (optional)


Heat a large frying pan on medium heat. When it‘s hot, add about 1 Tbsp neutral oil. When the oil is hot, place the skewers in the pan in a single layer (you may have to cook in batches). Cook until both sides are brown, about 5 minutes each side. Then, cover and cook on low heat for 2–3 minutes. Add the sauce to the pan and cook until well coated.

To serve


Transfer the skewers to a serving plate and, with a clean brush, baste the top of the chicken skewers with the sauce you set aside.


Serve with toasted sesame seeds sprinkled over the top.

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