Grilling season has officially begun; I made my annual batch of tare (the base for teriyaki or yakitori sauce) using the recipe in Hiroko Shimbo’s book The Japanese Kitchen.
The glossy-sauce for skewered chicken is made by cooking mirin, sake, sugar, and shoyu until it is thick and shiny. In Ms. Shimbo’s version, chicken drumettes are included and simmered to make the tare especially flavorful right from the beginning.
We enjoy the soy-cooked wings when the sauce is first cooked.
This basic sauce can be used all summer for yakitori (grilled chicken or other bird) on skewers. During each grilling session, dip your skewered chicken parts into the sauce and let the excess liquid drip back into the pan, thus adding more flavor to the sauce each time it’s used. Some yakitori restaurants in Japan even claim to have been using their sauce for years, adding saké, mirin, and shoyu when needed: that makes for their “secret” illusive deliciousnes…
After each use, you can strain then refrigerate it for up to a week before you should boil or use it again. If you don’t grill often, then freeze the sauce between grilled meals.
BUT!!! This tare (basic sauce) can be used for more than simply flavoring yakitori (chicken skewers). All summer you can use portions of the sauce to grill: chicken, pork, fish, or just about anything you can cook over charcoal, food you cook on skewers, or not! Add some orange juice, honey, fruit preserves, spices, or other flavorings and voila: teriyaki sauce.
Tare: basic sauce for Japanese grilling
makes 1 1/2 cup sauce
- 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.