I started this blog with “Yakitori” posts 3 years ago. I also posted about our surrogate “Izakaya” “Tako Grill”. Last year, to our surprise, Chef Kudo went back to Japan for good and opened up his restaurant “タコグリルTako Grill” in the small town he originally came from called “Kuroishi” 黒石 in Aomori prefecture 青森県. Now Mr. Terry Segawa 瀬川哲紀 who mostly took care of the business side of Tako Grill is more involved in the kitchen. He added quite nice Izakaya type snacks to the menu (actually, he now has a special Izakaya menu). When Terry is behind counter, he often offers something “off the menu”. These dishes are different and quite nice; one evening it was Yakitori (chicken liver and hearts). My wife really likes chicken liver Yakitori, which I have not made for some time. This prompted me to make these small yakitori skewers on weekend.
When I barbecue whole chickens, I usually discard the neck, gizzards and liver which are packaged in paper and tucked inside the cavity. (These are usually meant for making the American classic gravy-with-giblets). This time, I used the liver to make this small Yakitori while we are waiting for the whole chickens to finish cooking.
Since the Webber grill was otherwise occupied with the whole chickens and the mosquitos were still around making me reluctant to stand around outside tending the grill, I cooked these Yakitori in the toaster oven in “Hi-broil”.
Chicken liver: I removed attached fat, vessels etc and soaked them in sake for 20-30 minutes. I used a flat metal skewer. From two whole chickens, there was enough liver to make two small skewers (picture below).
Sauce: I made quick “tare” たれ or dipping sauce. It is a mixture of sake (1 tbs) mirin (1 tbs), sugar (2 tsp) and soy sauce (1 tbs). I first heated the sake and mirin mixture to boil, then dissolved sugar and added soy sauce. I then made a potato starch slurry (katakuriko 片栗粉 or potato starch plus sake). I streamed it in until the sauce was slightly thickened.
Chicken tenderloins: This is a variation of shiso and salted plum roll 梅しそ巻き which I previously posted. Instead of making it into a roll, I butterflied the chcken tenderloins, lined it with 1 or 2 leaves of perilla and smeared bainiku 梅肉 (I removed the meat of umeboshi 梅干 plum and minced it into paste with a small amount of mirin to make it a paste consistency). After closing the butterflied portions, I used a sawing motion to thread the skewer (see below).
I cooked the skewers on Hi-broil in the toaster oven (with the upper heating elements about 1 inch from the skewers) turning once or twice for 10-15 minutes. For the liver, I coated the surface of the cooked liver with the dipping sauce and broiled it for one more minute turning once. I put on one more coat of “tare” sauce and sprinkled “sansho” 山椒 or powdered Szechwan pepper corn on the liver.
This was a perfect appetizer to eat while we waited for the chicken to cook. Sometimes the liver included in the packet found in the cavity of a whole chicken is not fresh and is all broken up, but I should check it before discarding. This was perfectly good chicken liver.