Learn all about yakitori grills and how to make the perfect kebab.
The joy of cooking outdoors is an experience that brings people together, especially when it comes to creating mouthwatering BBQ dishes. One such delicacy is the Japanese Yakitori, which has made its way into the hearts and homes of BBQ enthusiasts worldwide. In this article, we will explore Yakitori grills and how to make the best kebabs using this age-old cooking technique.
What are Yakitori Grills?
Yakitori is a traditional Japanese dish that involves grilling skewered meat, primarily chicken, over a charcoal fire. The name ‘Yakitori’ translates to “grilled chicken” in English, but the dish has evolved to include other meats and vegetables, resulting in a diverse range of delicious kebabs.
Understanding Yakitori Grills
A Yakitori grill is a specialized grill designed for cooking skewered food over a charcoal fire. Its unique features include:
- Long, narrow or square design: The shape of a Yakitori grill allows for even heat distribution, ensuring that skewered meat and vegetables cook evenly without direct contact with the flames. (We like using the Cube Grill by Everdure.)
- Adjustable vents: Yakitori grills are equipped with adjustable vents, allowing you to control the heat and airflow within the grill. This helps maintain the perfect temperature for grilling kebabs.
- Charcoal fire: A key element of Yakitori grilling is the use of charcoal, which imparts a distinct smoky flavor to the kebabs. Binchotan, a type of white charcoal made from oak, is preferred for its high heat output and long burn time.
How To Make The Best Kebabs
- Choose the right ingredients: Selecting high-quality meat and fresh vegetables is crucial for creating delicious kebabs. Opt for boneless chicken thighs, as they remain juicy and tender when grilled. Feel free to experiment with other meats, such as pork or beef, and a variety of vegetables, like bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. (If possible visit your local butcher and produce stand.)
- Prepare the skewers: Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from burning during the grilling process. Alternatively, use metal skewers for increased durability and reusability.
- Marinate your ingredients: A good marinade can elevate your kebabs to the next level. For a classic Yakitori flavor, mix together soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, and grated ginger. Allow the meat and vegetables to marinate for at least 1 hour, or overnight for maximum flavor.
- Assemble your kebabs: Thread the marinated meat and vegetables onto the skewers, alternating between ingredients. Make sure to leave enough space between the pieces to ensure even cooking.
- Preheat the Yakitori grill: Light the charcoal and let it burn until it’s covered with white ash. Adjust the vents to achieve the desired cooking temperature, typically between 350°F to 400°F.
- Grill your kebabs: Place the skewers on the Yakitori grill, maintaining a safe distance from the charcoal. Cook the kebabs for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, basting with additional marinade for extra flavor.
- Serve and enjoy: Once the kebabs are cooked through and have developed a beautiful caramelized exterior, remove them from the grill and serve with a side of steamed rice or your favorite dipping sauce.
Yakitori grills offer a unique and authentic way to enjoy delicious kebabs in the comfort of your own backyard. By selecting the right ingredients, preparing a mouthwatering marinade, and mastering the art of grilling over a charcoal fire, you can create an unforgettable outdoor dining experience for your friends and family. So, gather around the Yakitori grill and indulge in the flavorsome world of Japanese BBQ. Happy grilling!
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