Have you ever heard of grilled rice? I had it in an Izikaya (Japanese gastro pub) on my trip to Japan this spring and fell in love with it. Basically it’s a rice ball or triangle of really good Japanese short grain rice that’s been grilled and then brushed with a sweet and salty soy marinade. You could also add a little miso paste. The outside gets crispy and the inside is chewy. This goes really well with yakitori, which was really the focus of my cooking demonstration.
I love the smell of yakitori outside in the summertime. It reminds me of the time I lived in Japan when we’d go to the Obon festival in the summer when street vendors were grilling the skewers on their long narrow charcoal grills–narrow so the wooden part of the skewer hangs off the edge so it doesn’t burn. Over the years I’ve experimented until I finally have THE recipe for wonderful yakitori.
Part of this recipe come from Hiroko Shimbo, The Japanese Kitchen, where she suggests charring some chicken wings and cooking them in the marinade. In Japan the skewers are cooked first and then dipped into the hot marinade several times. The marinade takes on a very rich chicken flavor. In my recipe I’ve used the idea of adding chicken to the marinade but without cooking it first.

Yakitori Tare (sauce)

1/2-3/4 cup Sake (Japanese rice wine)
1 cup Mirin
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups soy sauce (or wheat free tamari) I used reduced-sodium tamari
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 slices fresh ginger
lemon zest (1/2 tsp)
8 chicken wings (or to save time, 1 cup chicken stock)

Bring everything to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Remove chicken and strain sauce.
Save chicken for another use.

Yakitori

2 lbs chicken thigh meat cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, cut into small pieces, same size as chicken
bamboo skews, soaked several hours in water

Thread alternating pieces of chicken and scallions. Cook over medium high heat on a charcoal (preferable for good flavor) or gas grill. After chicken cooks for a few minutes start basting with the sauce by dipping the skewer into the tare (sauce). Don’t overcook!

You will never enjoy eating the typical “chicken teriyaki” once you’ve had this.