Chicken yakitori

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This irresistible chicken yakitori recipe is a simple, delicious way to barbecue chicken, combining sweet, sticky tare glaze and hot charcoal to great effect. Remember to keep your chicken and spring onion bites the same size for even cooking, and don't forget to soak your skewers to stop them burning!

First published in 2018

Yakitori is the quintessential Japanese barbecue dish, in which chickens are meticulously butchered into their component parts and precisely arranged in different ways on small bamboo, wood or steel skewers.

The chicken must be grilled over charcoal (even a specialist type of charcoal called Binchōtan is used) and it is usually served with a ‘tare’ or soy basting sauce, into which the meat is also dipped as it is being cooked.

A yakitori chef is highly respected in Japan (the Japanese do an excellent job of becoming highly specialised in the kitchen) but it’s okay, you can have a go at home with very pleasing results. It’s worth butchering the chicken yourself because you get to try all the different cuts, and pretend you’re a yakitori master at the same time. However, chicken thighs and breasts are easier and faster.





For the tare


  • Barbecue


Add all the tare ingredients to a saucepan, bring to the boil and reduce by half until thick and glossy. Divide the tare into 2 bowls – one shallow bowl for dipping the skewers while you’re cooking them and one for serving at the table
Remove any skin from the chicken and cut into rectangular strips. Fold each strip, pushing a skewer through each side to create a domed effect. Alternate each piece of chicken with a section of spring onion and brush lightly with oil
Heat a barbecue for direct grilling. When the flames have died down and the coals are white, gently grill the chicken skewers, turning often. Once the chicken skewers are around 80% cooked, begin dipping them into the tare and returning to the grill to caramelise

Helen Graves is Head of Content at Great British Chefs. She's also the author of the cookbook LIVE FIRE: Seasonal Barbecue Recipes and Stories of Live Fire Traditions, Old and New, and the editor of Pit, an independent magazine with roots in live fire cooking.

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