Do you really want to get to know the art of making Yakitori? Ok, let’s not make it so dramatic. If you want to know what is yakitori, or how to make one, then you are in for a ride! 

Whether this is your first time or are an expert yakitori fan, you should have a good time exploring the world of these grilled skewers.  

There are many ways you can enjoy Yakitori’s. In this excerpt below, we will describe some of the best way to prepare the perfect Yakitori.  

Whether it is a classic chicken skewer or a contemporary adaptation with quirky ingredients, each preparation will be very well detailed. 

Even though it’s just one ingredient, we will unwrap the delights of Yakotari, piece by piece. Plus, show you the delicious recipes you can try out in your kitchen today!  


What is Yakitori – A Brief Historyof Yakitori  

The roots of Yakitori run back to Meiji in Japan when it first appeared as a cheap snack. It was easy to make (still is), and easy to consume on the go. 

The Japanese word “yakitori” literally means the grilled bird. As the word “yaki” (fiber) indicates (yaki), the character “tori” (bird) refers to chicken.  

This dish was originally for the ordinary, because of its low price as it proves to be the most useful. Over time, yakitori has progressed from a modest food supply simply popping up at local shops to a global movement. Hence, giving a stage to appreciate of its delicate flavors and subtle taste.  

With a heavy tone on technique and superior quality of ingredients, we see the role of Yakitori improving with each day. However, when it comes to making it at home, you will first need the right ingredients. 

Essential Ingredients for Yakitori  

Now that you know what is Yakitori, then here are the ingredients you should get! 

You’ll want to stock a shelf or two of essential ingredients for a good yakitori.  

  • Beginning with excellent chicken as Yakitori’s traditional menu involves this protein choice.  
  • Skweres are next most crucial item in the dish. Bamboo skewers are a popular one, but metal ones would do too.  
  • The most important ingredient for that authentic yakitori flavor is tare sauce, a mixture of soy sauce, sake, mirin (rice wine), and sugar. This combination is responsible for the sweet-salty glaze we all know and love on the dish.  
  • Cooking without salt is incomplete. Therefore, salt is another ingredient used for seasoning skewers that are not in the sauce. 
  • At last, think of adding shichimi togarashi, a Japanese spice blend, for some crunch.  
  • Finish with a tiny splash of soy sauce blend with a pinch of wasabi powder. These basic elements will guide the broad range of Yakitori. 

From your traditional theme of grilled chicken recipes to some not-so-traditional recipes. Let’s dive into the world of Takoyaki with vegetables, cheese, or even seafood.  

The Importance of Vegetables 

Although chicken is the most used meat for yakitori cooking, there are other alternatives. Even if you are planning to make a vegan Yakitori, we have some options covered. 

The other ingredients include pork belly, beef, or even the liver for an extra variation in your diet. Fresh, organic products are your best bet since they provide a good combination of fresh and good fat.  

The vegetables you pick can create texture and color in your skewers. Even adding to the dish’s overall presentation.  

Common choices are green onions and bell pepper or shiitake mushrooms. You can try anything that comes to your mind, though eggplant, cherry tomatoes, or zucchini are popular choices. The vegetables need to be firm and fresh to give you that classic Yakitori crunch.  

Granted, skewers are assembled by placing meat and vegetables on opposite sides to balance flavors and texture. Aside from the ingredients used, what is vital is cutting and treating them properly before they hit the lip-smacking grill.  

Let’s start grilling: Step-by-step Instructions for Yakitori Recipes 

Now that you know all the ingredients, and what is Yakitori, it is time to make some of the best Yakitoris in your own kitchen. 

Recipe 1: Classic Yakitori  

Let’s begin your Yakitori journey with the classic one! 

  • You need chicken thigh meat a to make the classic yakitori style. The tare sauce should also be on the list.  
  • Cut the chicken into even-sized pieces and make one-inch-long pieces from the green onions.  
  • Insert the chicken onion stick alternately diagonally on bamboo skewers with a small gap along the skewer. Get your grill preheated to medium-high heat and position the skewers above.  
  • Remember to turn them over for an ideal cooking. About two minutes later, give your chicken the classic tara sauce glaze. The sauce base needs to get sticky so keep turning the skewer many times.  
  • I advise you to routinely turn and baste until this breast is fully cooked. It should have a sweet glaze on within 8 to 10 minutes.  
  • You can also add Shichimi togarashi as garnishing if one prefers a little spice. 

Have your Yakitori right away, hot from the grill!  

When the sweet and savory meat hits your taste buds, and the juicy meat delights your mouth, we call it the perfect mouth.  

Recipe 2: Tsukune – Chicken Meatball Yakitori 

Tsukune is a meaty and succulent skewered mini meatball with an Umami flavor. This can very well satisfy all your taste buds, and you will have fun making it in the kitchen. 

In this recipe, we simply alter chicken pieces to meatballs! 

  • Start with the finely minced chicken thigh meat. Or readymade high quality chicken thigh meat that has been grounded.  
  • Fry the chicken, tossing it with green spring onions that are finely chopped. 
  • Use one egg for binding, some soy sauce, and a bit of sugar for additional taste.  
  • For the next step, knead the mixture thoroughly but without adding too much extra flour. Then form it into little, oval-shaped meatballs.  
  • Push the skewers into the holes by the board to hold on to the meatballs to the top. Then bake them over low heat.  
  • Remember to flip them when they are leveled to the other side from different sides. After half an hour, brush them with tare sauce and allow each layer to brown.  
  • Shape the ground chicken meat into little patties and grill until cooked. Pay careful attention to the glaze. 
  • Garnish generously with sesame seeds or a splash of spicy mustard on the side as for that extra kick! 

Now, all there is left to do is take a delicious bite from your favorite Yakotari dish. 

Recipe 3: Negima (Chicken and Green Onion Yakitori) 

After knowing what is Yakitori, and the classic way to make it. Then here is the next contemporary way to make it. 

Chicken thigh meat on skewers and green onion. This dish gives you that extra fresh crunch with the green onions. 

It is, as they say, “Simple but tasty!” 

  • For this recipe, first start cutting chicken thigh meat portions into desired bite-size pieces. After that, cut your green onions into one-inch pieces by using a sharp knife (this should be a staple in every Japanese dish, whether its takoyaki, or shushi rolls).  
  • Follow the same direction for skewers, putting the chicken pieces in various directions with the green onion slice in between. 
  • Light your gas grill and bring the temperature to medium-high. This will give you a longer cooking time without having to overcook your meat to get that crunch. 
  • Now it is time to place your skewers onto the grill and pay extra attention to cooking. You need to turn them occasionally to get that perfect even cook. Remember the onions will cook faster than the meat. So, you can cook skewer them separately if you feel that the veggies are getting a little too charred. 
  • Once the chicken has reached a moderate golden tone, whip your tare sauce over it with a spoon. Leave your sauce to form a delicate crust and soak everything with its melt-in-the-mouth sweet and salty flavor. Don’t forget to add the sauce to your green onions as well. 
  • Keep grilling until the chicken gets done and the onions are soft enough with a tiny char, which normally requires 10 to 13 minutes.  

Plate the Negima skewer while still hot, and glaze one extra layer of sauce for that final glossy shine! 

Recipe 4: Butabara (Pork Belly Yakitori) 

What is Yakitori? A powerhouse of recipe experiments! 

To begin with, pork belly is amouth-watering yakitori addition, loved by many. However, you need to grill it to the correct level for a perfect combination of crispiness and tenderness.  

  • First, boil the pork meat for at least an hour to get all the parasite out. You will be left with fresh pork meat. This is a very important step when you are making anything with pork meat. 
  • Second, cut the pork belly into bite sized slices. Then stick them to bamboo sticks. Ensure to put them on skewers with slight gap in between.  
  • Turn on the preheating grill at medium-high heat. Skewer your whole pork and grill the them by turning them occasionally to render the fat, and ensure the edges are getting crispy.  
  • Finally, apply tare sauce onto the skewers for the last 5 minutes of cooking to tenderize the meat and balance the sweet and salty flavor.  
  • Watch the fat of pork belly to prevent the flare-ups from erupting. You can fry it a little longer until it has a crispy skin and its pork is tender. This takes about 15 to 20 minutes. If your pork has a high fat percentage, getting it crispy with a perfectly cooked inside will take time. 

Serve the butabara hot or warm, with a side of pickled vegetable. This serves as a refreshing balance against the heavy flavors of the meat. Plus, makes the pork more digestible. 

Recipe 5: Gyutan (Beef Tongue Yakitori)  

If this is not your “piece of cake” you can skip to the next recipe. But, always remember someone’s yuk is another people yum. 

This is surely a yum in Japanese recipes! 

  • Gyutan, or beef tongue, is a delicacy in the yakitori world, known for its tender texture and distinct flavor.  
  • To prepare the gluten, boil the beef tongue until tender, then peel off the outer layer of skin.  
  • Slice the tongue into thin, bite-sized pieces and skewer them onto bamboo sticks. Before grilling, season the meat with a little salt to enhance its natural flavor. You can also add salt to the water when the tongue is boiling. This will ensure an extra seasoning for your meat
  • Heat your grill high and place the skewers on, searing each side quickly to create a light char while keeping the inside tender.  
  • Beef tongue cooks faster than other meats, usually within 4 to 6 minutes, so keep a close eye on it. You wouldn’t want to overcook since it heavily effects the taste

You can serve this with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten its rich flavor, rather than with tare sauce. Enjoy these skewers hot for a unique and savory yakitori experience. If you feel like some flavor is missing, do not hestiate to add a dash of wassabi on top. 

Recipe 6: Gyoza (Chicken Thigh Yakitori)  

Gyoza refers to the yakitori made with classic chicken thighs. Then grounded into a rich flavor to make the Gyoza filling.  

  • Begin by cutting chicken thighs into uniform bite-sized pieces. Then you know the drill by now! 
  • Skewer the chicken onto bamboo sticks, ensuring not to pack the pieces too tightly, which allows each piece to cook thoroughly.  
  • Season the chicken lightly with salt and let it sit while your grill heats to a medium-high temperature.  
  • Place the skewers on the grill, turning them regularly. Once the chicken starts to brown, brush it with tare sauce. Grill the chicken until it’s cooked and has a nice glaze, typically taking about 10 minutes.  

Then the first part comes! 

  • Take a gyoza sheet, and then fill it with the Yakitori filling. Seal the ends and prepare it in these following ways: 
  • Air fry them for 10 minutes. 
  • Classic pan fried, and lightly steamed. In a heated greased pan, lightly char the bottom of the gyoza. After 5 minutes, put some water around the gyoza and steam it for a few minutes. 
  • Simply boil the gyoza in a classic way. 

Serve the yakitori gyoza hot off the heat with extra tare sauce for dipping. You can also create your own dipping sauce with soya sacuce, mirin, and worchester sauce, with a dash of toasted sesame seeds on it. 

Recipe 7: Shii-take Mushroom Skewerry  

What is Yakitori?  

Not just another recipe for meat lovers! 

Afterall traditionally, when it comes to the making of it for everyone. Plus, manages to serve to tastebuds, and your principles. 

Yes, to impress the vegans we have developed a vegetarian alternative.  

Shiitake mushroom yakitori will delight the audience’s taste buds like the original.  

  • First, take only whole, large shiitake mushrooms and discard their stems. Mushrooms can be whole or cut into smaller slices if they are large.  
  • Then you know the drill! 
  • Get your grill to medium heat. Thread the skewers with the mushrooms on the grill and let them soften (usually in about 5 min).  
  • Glaze the mushroom strips on both sides with tare sauce. Grill them, pressing down with the spatula to get colorful, beautiful tong marks on your mushroom until you get the nice glaze. This step is extra important, or else you won’t get that classic yakitori char. Remember that mushrooms are not as fleshy as chicken so you will need to press down to get that char 
  • Turn the skewer frequently after every ten minutes. The edges should be sizzling and slightly crispy but not burnt.  
  • Finish your yakitori of shiitake mushrooms, serve with a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds if you want or a drizzle of soy sauce for an extra umami flavor.  

You can serve the same dish with other vegan options like soya chunks or tofu. 

What is Yakitori – Common Mistakes to Avoid  

Yes, you can face some difficulties while grilling Takoyaki for the first time. It doesn’t mean you are any less of a cook. You will need a few practices to get the best Takoyaki! 

Meanwhile, check out these mistakes and try to rectify them as you go. 

  • Not turning the skewer regularly causes uneven cooking and makes it difficult to achieve that surface char that everyone wants.  
  • Another mistake is using the wrong kind of heat. Yakitori is the ultimate form of grilled skewered delicacy. Therefore, if you want that barbeque char flavored charcoals and high heat are the only ways to get it.  
  • So, if you are using gas this will affect the results. However, do not run to the store to get charcoal. The taste difference won’t be astronomical so do not worry. 
  • Resist a tendency to keep the skewers constantly rotating. Rather than disturbing them by flipping them over, allow them to cook each side a few minutes longer before turning.  
  • The case of using too much sauce is the second repetitious mistake which many make. You can apply the tare sauce a few minutes before the end of cooking to avoid getting it burnt.  
  • Also, allow the tare sauce to blend in the meat or vegetables for a few minutes. Make sure that what you make is cut uniformly to be cooked evenly.  

Hopefully we were able to give you a good answer to what is Takoyaki. Do you have more to add? Please let us know in the comment section below. Also, find out our other delicious recipes like Japanese pancakes, and Onigiri. 

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sibashree bhattacharya
Sibashree has been into SEO and eCommerce content writing for more than 9 years. She loves reading books and is a huge fan of those over-the-top period dramas. Her favorite niches are fashion, lifestyle, beauty, traveling, relationships, women's interests, and movies. The strength of her writing lies in thorough research backing and an understanding of readers’ pain points.

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