Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Izakaya Series: Week 1 Yakitori Negima 焼き鳥ねぎま

Hello again and apologies for the lateness of my post. August was a flurry of family weddings, reunions, a head cold (bleugh) and a foodie holiday (yum!).

And now its back to the posting. Over the coming weeks I will be focusing on the Japan's Izakaya style food. These dishes are great for a relaxed dinner with friends or finger food for any type of party.

Izakaya Banquet! Delicious :)
An Izakaya is a bar/pub which serves a huge range of small dishes to accompany your drinks. Most Izakayas have a mix of tatami mat flooring or tables and chairs. I have been lucky enough to enjoy Izakayas with both colleagues and friends while living in Japan and it is definitely a must if you're visiting Japan. They can usually be spotted by their red lanterns hanging outside.

In most Izakayas you will find a delicious selection of food ranging from sushi, sashimi, yakitori (chicken skewers), kushiyaki (meat & vegetable skewers), kaarage (fried chicken), yakisoba, tofu dishes and a range of salads and pickles.

These dishes may all be ordered at one time and shared among the table with a nice glass of Japanese beer, sake or shōchū. Sounds good?

Then invite your friends around and create your own Izakaya experience!

焼き鳥ねぎま! おいいし!
This week will we be making Yakitori Negima (焼き鳥ねぎま) Yaki- grill, Tori- chicken, Negi- onion, Ma- (I'm not too sure). Many will have seen this dish available in your local Japanese restaurant and enjoy it as a starter to your meal.

Let us begin the grilling!

Yakitori Negima Ingredients

500g (1lb 2oz) chicken thigh fillet (chicken breast works just as well if you don't like chicken thigh)
5-6 baby leeks or thick spring onions. I used the latter.
8-10 bamboo skewers soaked in water for one hour.

Our yakitori sauce ingredients

 Yakitori Sauce

500g (1lb 2oz) Chicken wings

375ml mirin
250ml sake (cooking sake will work well)
375ml Japanese soy sauce
55g caster sugar
2-3 tsps kuzu starch rocks (a Japanese starch) or arrowroot

1. Preheat the grill to high and cook the chicken wings, turning occasionally, for 15-20 minutes. Ideally the chicken should be golden brown and just starting to blacken slightly.
Remove and set aside.

Grilled chicken wings

2. Pour the mirin and sake into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the soy sauce and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Add the grilled chicken wings and bring to the boil. Reduce and simmer for 30 minutes.

The chicken wings add a rich flavour to the yakitori sauce
4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
5. Once cooled, strain the sauce and serve the chicken wings as a snack (I like to sprinkle them with some sesame seeds), or keep them until serving for an extra dish in your Izakaya banquet!

I overdid mine slightly, but they still tasted wonderful!

6. Pour 2 tbsp of sauce into a smalldish and add the kuza/arrowroot and stir until it has dissolved, then return to the saucepan.
7. Place over a high heat until the yakitori sauce starts to boil and becomes glossy and thick.
8. Remove from heat and allow to cool once again before using.

Making the Yakitori Negima

1. Cut each thigh fillet into 8 even pieces.
2. Slice the spring onion into 4 even pieces (the white/greenish part of the spring onion only)

 3. Thread the chicken and spring onions in any variation that suits you. I started with a piece of chicken and alternated with the spring onion to arrive at 3 pieces of chicken and 2 pieces of spring onion.

To Grill and Serve

1. Grill the skewers in a conventional grill for 3-4 minutes till juices begin to flow from the meat.

2. Brush with the yakitori sauce or dip the kebabs into the sauce and continue grilling, turning regularly.
Allow excess sauce to drip back into the bowl

3. Brush, or dip for a second time and cook for a further 1-2 minutes or until well glazed.

4. As the yakitori finish grilling, remove to a serving platter and pour a small amount of yakitori sauce over the kebabs and allow guests to help themselves.

A small dish of seven-spice mixture (shichimi) is an excellent condiment for this tasty dish.

Deliciously coated yakitori negima

A serving of edamame beans 枝豆 is also a welcome side

Yakitori/ Kushiyaki is a very versatile dish and you can add any types of meat, fish or vegetable you like. Great variations include salted pork belly, chicken skin, squid tentacles, asparagus wrapped in parma ham, a variety of mushrooms etc etc.

Also, Yakitori can be seasoned with the method above; a sweet soy sauce, or they can simply be salted as they are cooked (especially the pork belly-delicious)
Any seafood should be served with a wedge of lemon.

Enjoy and いただきます!!

Next week in the Izakaya Series: Tsukune つくね, chicken meatball skewer. Another great accompaniment to your Izakaya Banquet!

I can't wait!


  1. That was a really delicious food and a good health...