Chicken yakitori is more than just a delicious dish; it’s a culinary experience that has captivated taste buds worldwide. This savory, skewered chicken treat originated in Japan and has become a global favorite. It has irresistible flavor, simplicity, and versatility.
So, I’m excited to share this WW-friendly four-ingredient recipe and explore its history, cultural significance, cooking techniques, and modern variations.
Yakitori Historical Roots and Cultural Significance
The roots of chicken yakitori can be traced back to the 17th-19th centuries in Japan, where it was a popular street food. However, enjoying with friends and colleagues over drinks is a quintessential part of izakaya (Japanese pubs) culture.
Initially, yakitori referred to grilled skewers of various types of meat, but chicken yakitori gained prominence due to its affordability and deliciousness. While it traditionally uses bite-sized pieces of chicken, often thigh meat, other cuts like breast or wings can be used too.
The key to perfect yakitori is the quality of the chicken, with emphasis on freshness and tenderness.
Four-Ingredient Chicken Yakitori Recipe:
(The full printable recipe with directions can be found at the end of this post).
Reduced-Sodium Teriyaki Sauce
Dark Sesame Oil
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Cut boneless skinless chicken breasts into 24 pieces. Then, you’ll whisk the teriyaki sauce and sesame oil together. Add chicken and toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes. While that cooks, cut scallions.
Alternate three pieces of chicken and two scallion pieces on each wooden skewer.
After that, spray skewers with nonstick spray. Grill them until cooked through. Brush skewers with reduced marinade.
Serve and enjoy!
- Even distribution of the meat and the space between pieces will ensure even cooking.
- Create your own variations of chicken yakitori and experiment with different marinades, sauces, and even vegetables between the chicken pieces on the skewers.
- Some popular variations include teriyaki chicken yakitori, spicy miso yakitori, and, surprisingly, even vegetarian options using tofu or mushrooms.
Other Grill Recipes You Might Enjoy:
Chicken yakitori is typically made with bite-sized pieces of chicken skewered onto bamboo sticks and grilled to perfection.
The choice of grill can influence the final taste of the yakitori. Whether you use a charcoal or gas grill or a grilling pan, the grilling process involves constant basting with the sauce (a savory, sweet soy-based glaze) to build layers of flavor.
Chicken yakitori, with its lean protein and balanced flavors, is considered a healthier choice compared to many fried or heavily processed dishes. Yes, and amen!
Adaptable to accommodate dietary preferences, it is a versatile option for various lifestyles.
So, the next time you savor a succulent skewer of chicken yakitori, remember that you’re not just enjoying a meal but partaking in a rich culinary tradition spanning centuries.
Four-Ingredient Chicken Yakitori
- Nonstick spray
- 1/3 cup Reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
- 1 tbsp Dark sesame oil
- 1 lb Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 24 (1-1/2 to 2-inch) pieces.
- 8 medium Scallions, white and light-green parts only
- In a medium bowl, whisk teriyaki sauce and sesame oil. Add chicken and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Off heat, coat the grill rack or grill pan with nonstick spray. Preheat the gas grill, charcoal grill, or grill pan to medium-high.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook marinade until syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes. Cut white and light-green parts from each scallion into 2 pieces (approximately 1-1/2 to 2 inches long). Using 8 (6-inch) skewers, alternately thread 3 chicken pieces and 2 scallion pieces on each skewer.
- Coat skewers with nonstick spray. Grill skewers until chicken is lightly charred and cooked through (165ºF, using a meat thermometer). Approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side. Brush skewers with reduced marinade.