- Yakitori at Home -


Our family frequently visits our local Japanese Yakitori restaurant and given it's a meal that the whole family can enjoy (no complaints from the kiddo's), I had to attempt to make it myself.  Originally I'd planned on just doing it all on the grill since I didn't have a charcoal set up at home but for Mother's Day my husband got me a really fun portable BBQ so it was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.  Don't be discouraged if you don't have one, we tested some of these on the grill and it was just as flavorful and delicious.  I decided to make a few different recipes tonight, and given how there seemed to be a lot of steps it didn't really take too much time to prep.  The meatballs were a hit with the kids so I'm including the recipe below.  Make a big pot of rice and cut up some raw veggies and its a meal the whole family will enjoy.

Shopping List for Chicken Meatballs


For the Meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
  • 10 wooden skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes before using on grill or BBQ)

For the Sauce

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns or 1/4 teaspoon of crushed black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 3 medium whole cloves of garlic
  • 3 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 piece of ginger (approximately 1" long), sliced

Side Dishes

  • white or brown rice
  • Raw cabbage
  • Raw cucumbers or carrots
  • soy sauce for dipping

What I love about this dish is that it can totally be prepped ahead of time!  All you are doing is throwing these meatballs on the grill and cooking for a few minutes.  We have a local Japanese market by our house that makes it very easy to get different items to compliment this meal but these are all things you can find in your local grocery store. 


Start with all the prep work; finely chop up the scallions, mince the garlic and fresh ginger and add it to a bowl with all of the other meatball ingredients.  No special order here, just all needs to end up together.  Mix with your hands thoroughly.  Same with the sauce, add all to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling bring down to a simmer and cook until reduced about 30 - 45 minutes.  Whisk every 10 minutes or so and strain sauce or simply remove whole ingredients.  Put aside in fridge until ready to use.


Once everything is blended together roll into 1" balls and add 4 meatballs to each skewer.  Important side note is that you should be soaking your wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before adding meatballs.


I definitely could of stopped here and had plenty to eat including the side of rice and veggies but I really wanted to try some of my other favorite Yakitori dishes.  I made miso, mirin and soy marinated short ribs, stuffed mushrooms as well as my favorite dish which are vegetables wrapped in pork belly.  I'll admit if you want an even simpler recipe these are it.  Just buy the thinly sliced pork belly and wrap on your favorite vegetables and grill.  So much flavor without a lot of work or mess!

barta interiors - steak.JPG

If you are feeling adventurous and have a charcoal grill this definitely adds a lot of great flavor.  I've also included a link to the portable charcoal BBQ my husband got me for Mothers Day.  What I love about this product is it can be taken to the beach or camping.  The Everdure by Heston Blumenthal is also totally portable and easy to clean.  Can't wait to try burgers on this thing!


Once the coals are heated up add them to your BBQ and your ready to cook!  The chicken meatballs (depending on how hot your BBQ is) takes about 2-3 minutes per side.  I rotate about 4 times and add the sauce we prepared at the end and cook for another 15-30 seconds.

barta interiors - chicken meatballs.jpg
Barta Interiors - Cooked Meatballs.JPG

These were so good, something I would recommend is really watching your meatballs while they cook, since some area's of the BBQ is hotter then others you may need to rotate or move to sides once they are almost done.  The pork belly wrapped vegetables were much easier to cook.  The wrapped tomatoes were my favorite and next time I'll add some wrapped asparagus.

barta interiors - pork belly vegetables.jpg

Happy to share how to make one of my favorite meals out at home.  It was much easier then I thought which is always a plus.  Again if you are looking for something SUPER simple go with the pork belly wrapped vegetables or cook a marinated steak.

barta interiors - table top.jpg