Chicken Skin 雛皮
We love cripsy skin of any kind very much. This is a common yakitori item made of just chicken skin. But to make it all nicely crunchy without causing flared up when it cooks, which gives it a gasoline-taste, requires some preparaion. You can use any part of the skin but I usually use the thigh part. To remove any strong smell and to render out some of the excess fat, the skin is placed in salted boiling water with some sake. (Although I have not tried, some people use roasted brown tea or “bancha” 番茶 for this.) I boil the skin a good 5-7 minutes until I see fat floating on the surface. Wash the skin in cold water and pat dry. Next question is how to skewer the pieces. Most yakitori-ya, apear to make multiple folds or make a stack of small square pieces of skin on skewers but, for us, this does not work well since the skin does not get crunchy throughout. Instead the edges of the squares or tops of the folds get too singed and the insides of the folds are soft. You see how we did it in the pictures. You need to avoid flare-ups while grilling by moving them to colder areas of the grill.
Chicken liver 肝 きも
Chicken liver is our (especially my wife’s), favorite. Again, it requires some prepping and this is my version. Fortunately, chicken liver is very cheap and comes in plastic tubs at most grocery stores near us. But unfortunately, you need to carefully sort out the fragmented and blemished parts and remove any fat, vessels, connective tissue attached to it. Then soak it in ice water for 10-15 minutes. I then use a marinade consisting of equal parts mirin plus sake and soy sauce with grated ginger root (sort of teriyaki marinade but not very sweet). I marinade the liver for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. When skewering the liver paying attention to some details can help. As you can see in this picture, either I use metal yakitori skewers with flat surface (4 sewers on left) or use two bamboo skewers (two on right) to prevent the liver from rotating when it is turned. I spray the metal grills with a non-stick spray (I use a Weber brand which works best). Attention to these details will result in a lovely textured chicken liver–nice grilled surface with a creamy center, and lots of flavor. We should have some more discussion regarding sake and wine later but the liver goes extremely well with red wine. This evening, we had Syrah from Languedoc, Domaine Famille Ligneres Montagne d’Alaric “Notre Dame” 2004, before switching to sake.