YAKITORI & Japanese seven spices

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Japanese food is getting popular now , so you might have known or even had YAKITORI already.

For some of you who don’t know what Yakitori is,  Yakitori is a Japanese style  skewered chicken (and sometimes vegetables).

After it is grilled, it is dressed in a traditional Japanese sauce which base is soy sauce, or salt.

If you have a chance to visit Japan, you could enjoy street YAKITORI  at the stands with SALARYMEN in suits after 5,6, 7 or 8 o’clock.

In Japan the workers sometimes don’t go back home straight, and hang out with colleagues, grumbling about their companies, drinking and eating Yakitori.

That is their relaxing moment.

I am not MEAT person, but I miss YAKITORI in Japan. Maybe I miss the smoke and its grilling smell.

They use SUMI (charcoal), so they are so flavorful like BBQ here.


So I can understand the men end up eating Yakitori at stands even though their families are waiting.

Sadly I don’t have a yard, so I can’t do grilling Yakitori with charcoal, but I do sometimes grill it in the oven.

Today I will introduce my in-home Yakitori.

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Here are ingredients you might want to prepare.

  • 1 deboned chicken thigh (please don’t replace with chicken breast)

In Japan we use chicken thigh with skin.  It is up to you.

  • assorted vegetables such as thick green onion, regular onion, green or red pepper, or shishito pepper.)

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(for sauce) (for 3-4 skewers)

  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • shichimi – Japanese seven spices

First soak the bamboo skewers in the water at least for 3-4 hours not to burn them during the grilling.

Cut the chicken thigh by bite-sizes, and prepare any vegetables by bite-sizes as well.

Then mix the ingredients of sauce together, and set aside.

If you want to have THICK sauce, you could cook them for a while until it gets thickened, but I use it as it is.

Skewer the meat and vegetables alternately.

OK, I confess.

Today I didn’t have enough time since my husband was coming back straight home (there are no Yakitori stands here!), I cheated.

I pan-fried a little before grilling to cook through fast, BUT please grill them from the beginning.

That is the right way.

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Now they are on a sheet pan. (It is better to use oven rack!  Again I cheated..)

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Then put the prepared sauce on skewered chicken and vegetables.

If you live in Japan,  every kitchen has a tiny oven for grilling fish, so we could use that oven for Yakitori.

We don’t have that convenient thing here, so put and broil them in the regular oven with the oven door ajar.

YES, the door needs to be ajar.

Here are the reasons of that.

1) Keeping the door ajar helps vent steam, so the oven environment stays dry and hot .

2) Keeping the door ajar  prevents an excessive heat up of the oven.  If the door isn’t ajar, the food gets burned before being cooked completely.

However there is another opinion.  Some people say if we open the oven door during broiling, the smoke comes out of the oven and we will  be in trouble ( I hate that loud siren noise for my four legs kids.)

When I broil skewers from the beginning in the oven, I put some water in the pan sheet under the rack, so even if the fat drops from the meat, it doesn’t cause smoke.

Today I cheated and pan-fried beforehand as I told you before, so I don’t need to worry about uncooked meat.

All I want is just some smoky flavor, so I keep the oven door ajar, and  I put the sauce every 1-2 minutes and finish grilling them.


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Can you see the red powder on them?

That’s SHI CHI ME!

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Literally it means SEVEN FLAVORS.

Like Chinese five spices, it is Japanese seven spices.

A typical blend may contain, coarsely ground red chili pepper, ground sansho (This spice is so tasty.  If you have had UNA JYU (Eel with rice), you may know this flavor.), roasted orange peel, black sesame seed, white sesame seed, hemp seed, ground ginger, and aonori (a kind of seaweed).

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My husband will get excited again when he sees Yakitori on the table, and won’t regret heading straight from the work to this table!


By the way, I sometimes prepare Yakitori in OBENTO,


to prevent him from stopping at stands beforehand.

Enjoy Yakitori at home!

3 thoughts on “YAKITORI & Japanese seven spices

  1. Pingback: Japanese Curry from RINTARO recipe | Japanese Kitchen in the USA

  2. Pingback: everyday obento | Japanese Kitchen in the USA

  3. Pingback: how to make KAKIAGE (Tempura) | Japanese Kitchen in the USA

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