Sunday, 11 September 2011

Izakaya Series: Week 2 Chicken Tsukune 鶏つくね

Continuing on with our Izakaya Series, this week we have another popular choice when ordering yakitori; Chicken Tsukune 鶏つくね. Yum!

Tsukune at my local Yakitori bar when living in Japan. The left is salted and the right is coated with a sauce.
Tsukune in Japanese refers to any type of ground meat that is moulded into a ball, sausage or burger shape. Although Tsukune is commonly grilled yakitori style, you can fry, barbeque or boil it, much like a sausage. Tsukune is also a great addition to a bento box (Japanese style lunch boxes) and nabemono (hotpot) as they stay very moist and full of flavour!

This recipe should make around 5-6 skewers (soak the skewers for an hour in water to prevent burning)

Chicken Tsukune

500g (1lb 2oz) chicken thigh skin on, or chicken breast (if you can find chicken mince, great! It is non-existent in Cork!)
1 spring onion minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Good pinch of salt

If you want to have a sauce coating, the Yakitori Sauce from the previous post is perfect!
1. Finely mince the spring onion and put in a bowl.
2. Grate your ginger (or very finely chop if you have no grater) and add to the spring onions.
Lovely spring onions!
3. Mix your mirin, soy, sugar and salt with the spring onion and ginger.
4. Wash and thoroughly dry them with kitchen paper. If there are any bones remove them along with any connective tissue.

5. Remove all skin, keeping one aside for later.
6. Mince the chicken either by hand or using a food processor (I minced by hand as it creates a lovely texture that is lost through processing)
7.Add mince to bowl .

A great texture from hand mincing
8. Finely mince the skin and add to the bowl. (this step is optional, the added skin intensifies the flavour)
9. Mix all the ingredients together and allow to marinade for 2-3 hours in the fridge.

To Prepare

1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Shape the chicken mixture onto the skewers in a cylindrical shape and set on to the grilling rack.
3. If using a wooden spoon, like I have (mainly because I added too much mirin and they wouldn't hold on the skewer! ^^) shape the mixture over the spoon.
4. Cover the end of the spoon with tin foil to prevent burning and place on the grill.

5. If using the Yakitori Sauce, grill until starting to brown and then brush the sauce over. Continue to do this ever 3-4 minutes until cooked and/or brown and glossy. (I lightly coated mine in sauce)
6. Check to see if they are cooked by either cutting one open or using a thermometer.

To Serve

Serve directly on to the table and allow guests (or yourself :)) to choose as they please.
A small dish of seven-spice mixture (shichimi), sea salt or some Japanese mayonnaise are great condiments for chicken Tsukune.

From my experience in making this dish I found that it was slightly too sweet for my taste (possibly due to my incorrect measure of mirin) If you prefer a more savoury flavour, omit some of the sugar.

If the mince mixture is not moulding itself well to the skewer, add in 1-2 tbsp of panko (Japanese bread crumbs) which should hopefully bind it more strongly together.

Enjoy with your Yakitori Negima and some chilled drinks!


Next week on the Izakaya Series we have a firm favourite with my partner in crime and my friends; Yakisoba 焼きそば, literally "fried noodle"! A perfect way to complete your Izakaya Banquet!

Looks noodle-icious! :D

See you then!