Yakitori Basting Sauce

Yakitori Basting Sauce Chicken

It’s summer and the grill is hot! I’m on a quest to learn about Japanese grilling. The chicken in the pictures on this post was not grilled; it was the by-product of making the yakitori sauce. Very delicious, if a bit strongly flavored!

It’s part of the cooking method yakimono, which also includes toasting, broiling, roasting, and pan-frying. The yaki cooking method could be generalized as high and dry heat—confusing because sometimes oil is involved, but remember that oil is not “wet.”

Yakitori Basting Sauce Recipe for Chicken

Kushiyaki is the general term for food grilled on a skewer. Dengaku is skewered food (such as eggplant, tofu, taro, rice cakes, small fish, etc) that is roasted over charcoal, dipped in a miso-based sauce, then roasted again. Tori means chicken, so yakitori is small pieces of chicken (or meatballs, wings, skin, or livers) on skewers, grilled and often dipped in a sauce made with sake, mirin, and shoyu. Yakitori restaurants also serve a variety of kushiyaki, and sometimes all the food they serve is referred to as yakitori. Confused yet?

Yakitori Basting Sauce Recipe for ChickenThe recipe today will show you how to make your own yakitori sauce. Then I’ll post about a couple of yakitori recipes soon. Yakitori Chicken Wings

Several Japanese recipes include the word “yaki” in their names, though the foods are not usually skewered for cooking: yuan yaki, which includes a sauce made with citrus juice, and teriyaki , which includes a shiny glaze made with mirin, sake, shoyu, and sugar. Here are the yakimono recipes on my blog.

Yakitori Basting Sauce Recipe for ChickenYakitori basting sauce is based (I love homophones!) on a mixture of sake, mirin, and shoyu. During cooking, skewered chicken is dipped into the tare (sauce) pot. The sauce acquires some chicken flavor every time a skewer is dipped into it. This continuously adds flavor to the sauce, so don’t dispose of extra sauce when you make yakitori—keep it for next time. To refresh your heritage tare, cook up some more sauce with just the other ingredients.

Yakitori Basting Sauce Recipe for ChickenThis recipe gives you a head-start on the chicken flavor for your sauce by cooking some wings in it! When the sauce was cooked, I saved the chicken wings to eat for dinner with plain rice and some nice chard from our garden. Mr. Tess grew amaranth last summer and it volunteered this spring so I cooked some of those leaves as well. They are very pretty dark red.

Cooked Amaranth and Chard

Basting Sauce for Yakitori

Yakitori: Tare
makes 1 1/2 cup sauce (if you have the book, it was a misprint to say 1/2 cup!!!)
page 405Yakitori Sauce Recipe

  • 8 chicken wings (drummets with the single bone)
  • 3/4 cup sake
  • 1 1/3 cups mirin
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups shoyu

Broil or grill the chicken wings until they are charred over about half their surfaces.
In a medium pot, bring the sake and mirin to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the sugar, and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Stir to prevent burning. Add the shoyu and chicken wings, and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes. At the end of the cooking, the sauce will be thick and glossy.
Strain the sauce through a strainer lined with cotton cloth, reserving the chicken wings. Let the sauce cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for as long as a month. Reheat the tare before using it, and once every week between uses. Notice how rich and thick the cold sauce is?

Yakitori Basting Sauce ChickenI think this sauce would freeze, but I forgot last summer. I don’t grill during the winter so it was left in the back of the fridge too long once the cold weather came.

More Yakitori Recipes From Tess

More Japanese Sauces and Dips From Tess

⇐ Previous Post Next Post ⇒
Watermelon Jewels Yakitori Chicken Wings

15 thoughts on “Yakitori Basting Sauce

  1. *rusty wheels turrrrning*….These looks delicious! Do you think it would be possible to do this with ground pork?….For some reason I’m in the mood for dango with pork and kind of a chinese flavoring tonight. I’m kinda thinking Shao-Tsing, garlic, sesame oil and a bitty of sugar for the glaze!…Almost kind of like a lazy gyoza without the ginger. ^_^ Do you know of a similar recipe to pass along? I’d love it!

    Also…Do you ever deal with Japanese measuring spoons?…I haven’t quite worked “15 Spoon” down to a science yet, but it seems to be roughly a tablespoon…Is it measured in grams? If you don’t know the answer already, I’ll get on it as a project and post it somewhere useful for anyone else who might be puzzled about it!

    P.S. Thank you for your comment the other day, I did respond, but soon deleted the entry just because it revealed a lot more about me than I’m comfortable with floating around out there for too long…I want to let friends know more about me, but there are a lot of creeps out there, too, who are up to no good, too. I wanted to thank you for your kind comment, though, in case you missed where I posted it on my own blog. Thanks! ^_^ ….( I asked what school your daughter had gone to, too :) )

  2. Saitoko,

    Ah. I was wondering how you are. I did miss the answer, but you are right to delete, or not post, information you are not comfortable with making public. I am having a hard time finding my voice in a blog: personal, but not revealing…

    My daughter studied costumes for theatre at de Paul. She was so excited when she was accepted to study there! And we enjoyed seeing her work in productions. I’d not been to Chi-town much before, but it’s an interesting place. We stumbled upon lots of great ethnic restaurants and shopping neighborhoods when we visited there.

    I think if you made meatballs with pork they would be buta-yakii (hey! I don’t know any Japanese except from English recipe translations???). But they would probably be tasty. Or if you use skewers, maybe kushi-buta-yaki? Check out the post I did about SQUID dumplings! I grew up in the UP so we did not eat anything so weird (exotic) as squid!

    Perhaps you should look at teriyaki glazes if you want to cook something like you describe? Much simpler and more versatile than this yakitori sauce.

    As to your question about Japanese measuring spoons, I admit ignorance. My experience is limited to English language cookbooks about Japanese cooking, so I’ve never heard of it. I’d be interested in any information you have. Sometimes I see (from the administer panel) my blog translated into Japanese, Dutch, Turkish, Spanish, Arabic, and French. I think that is very funny, considering that I am such a novice living so far from Japan.


  3. I love kushiyaki of all descriptions, except for chicken hearts. Yum. But I would never have thought of doing it myself at home (even though I do have a Weber BBQ and it would be perfect!). I love reading your recipes though! Thanks…

  4. Great. There’s a lot I still have to try, but so far it’s been good food. I’ve got to get used to the Weber—it’s different from my old grill, and I miss being able to raise and lower the grate…

  5. Hi Tess!…I have another question about your tare recipe. :) Do you think it would still be ok to make it even though I don’t have the chicken wings on hand? I want to make negima tonight (what can I say, I’ve gotta make due with what we’ve got around the house on the last day of the month before payday!) and want to start cooking the tare NOW so that I can sit with it while it’s cooking and let it glaze up patiently before tonight…What about putting a small part of a chicken flavored consomme block into it while it’s cooking? Do you think it would make an ok substitute just in a pinch? As always, I’m loving your recipes!…Now if I could only make it taste like it does at the Izakaya!….*drool* ^_^

  6. Saitoko,
    You could use chicken bones. I think a chicken cube would not add collagen (thickness) and would make your sauce too salty. This recipe makes a LOT of sauce that you keep in the fridge for a week, reheat and or use, then keep again. I think it can be frozen as well. So if you make it, it’s a sauce you’ll live with for a while. Or if it’s not good, you’ll end up throwing it out…
    If I were you, I’d just make a plain teriyaki sauce until you can get chicken bones or wings. That recipe doesn’t use the chicken and it only makes a small amount.

  7. Hi Tess,
    Hoping you still follow posts here….

    I stumbled upon this recipe for yakitori, on my quest for a thick sauce. Are you supposed to cook this tare without a lid?

    I cooked it for 15 min with a lid when I realised it would probably thicken a lot better if you don’t use a lid.
    So I took it off, But it still isn’t really a thick sauce. What’s the secret? Or is it the cooling and then reheating?

    The chicken wings ‘by-product’ is pretty good!

    • Hi Rob,

      I agree: the wings by-product is pretty good!

      Yes, you must cook it without a cover. It thickens partly by way of evaporation (reduction), and partly because the sugar almost caramelizes. The very first time I made this, the sauce thickened in a little more than the 30 minutes Ms. Shimbo suggests in the recipe.

      This summer, I fussed about the low heat being really very low. It was close to an hour before I lost patience and turned the heat up so it was not bubbling too slowly—blurp……blurp……blurp, but to a point where it was not quite boiling—blurp.blurp.blurp. I hope that makes sense?

      When I turned the heat up, I stirred it the whole time, until it thickened up.

      Also, this never gets thick like manufactured bottled sauce. It has no corn sugar and no thickeners added. It’s more like the consistency of real maple syrup. The way to use it: brush a thin layer on the food (or dip and shake off the extra), let the heat of the grill dry it, then repeat, until the food is cooked.

      I keep my sauce in a plastic container which seals well and transfer it to a pan to heat and use.

      The picture of the sauce in the tinfoil pan was just after I took it out of the refrigerator: The collagen from the chicken wings makes it gel when it’s cold.

      It does thicken up as you keep reheating it and using it.

      • Tess,

        Thanks for the quick reply.
        “so it was not bubbling too slowly—blurp……blurp……blurp, but to a point where it was not quite boiling—blurp.blurp.blurp. I hope that makes sense?” haha, that actually does make sense.

        It doesn’t need to be as thick as a manifactured sauce, but i’d like it to stay on the food ;) like maple syrup would be perfect. Anyway, I ate the wings yesterday, I’ll be making the yakitori today. I’ll let you know if something happens that could be of use to other readers of the post.

        • Hey, I hope you like it!
          Put the sauce on in many thin layers and you should be all right.

          Like painting: better to spray a little, let it dry, spray again, dry, and so on… Unless you like dried paint drips!

  8. Great blog! I think yakitori is not appreciated enough, so I’m happy to see you writting about it too. I like the tare recipe. Thanks!

    • Hi! Your blog is very interesting as well, and I’m sure to be checking it out during this upcoming grilling season. Your detailed pictures of how to cut the chicken are especially valuable—especially the wings. My method for tebasaki is much more complicated. (I left some comments on your blog)

      (sorry for the delayed response: somehow askimet thought you might have been spam—silyl askimet!)

    • No, I haven’t tried that. I’ve added various fruit juices and garlic, ginger, or hot peppers to make this into a teriyaki sauce. Do not add the flavorings to the mother sauce: take some of the tare out before adding other things to it.

      I’d say that the yakitori tare is already salty, but a sweet white miso might work. Be careful of burning if you try that: miso, especially lighter misos, burn easily.

  9. Tess, what is the ceramic pot called that holds Tare in a yakitori restaurant? I’ve read somewhere they keep the sauce in it for years…

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