What Does Yakitori Mean in Cooking?

Yakitori is skewered and grilled chicken, offering a delightful fusion of taste and texture.

Unraveling the History of Yakitori

Yakitori, which translates to “grilled chicken,” traces its origins back to Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868). Initially served by street vendors, Yakitori quickly gained popularity and became a beloved street food delicacy. Over the years, Yakitori has evolved, and today, it encompasses a wide range of chicken parts, as well as creative variations using other meats and vegetables.

Key Ingredients and Preparation

  1. Chicken Cuts: Traditionally, Yakitori features bite-sized pieces of chicken, including thigh meat, breast, skin, liver, and cartilage. Each cut offers a distinct flavor and texture, contributing to the diversity of this dish.
  2. Tare Sauce: Tare is a sweet and savory glaze used to baste the skewers while grilling. It typically consists of soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), sake (Japanese rice wine), sugar, and sometimes ginger or garlic for added depth of flavor.
  3. Skewers: Bamboo skewers are traditionally used for Yakitori, as they allow for even cooking and are easy to handle. Soaking the skewers in water before grilling prevents them from burning during the cooking process.

Cooking Yakitori at Home

  1. Marinating the Chicken: To infuse the chicken with flavor, marinate it in the Tare sauce for at least 30 minutes or overnight, depending on your preference.
  2. Skewering the Chicken: Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto the soaked bamboo skewers, ensuring they are evenly distributed for uniform cooking.
  3. Grilling Perfection: Grill the skewers over medium-high heat, continuously basting them with the Tare sauce to create a caramelized glaze. Turning them frequently ensures even cooking and prevents burning.
  4. Variations: While chicken remains the star, you can experiment with various Yakitori options by incorporating vegetables, mushrooms, or even seafood into your skewers.

Yakitori Accompaniments

Yakitori is often enjoyed with a range of accompaniments, including pickles, Japanese rice, and cold beer or sake. The simplicity of the dish allows the flavors to shine, creating a delightful culinary experience.

Use Yakitori in a Sentence

Last night, we visited a Japanese restaurant and ordered a plate of delicious yakitori, savoring the perfectly grilled skewers of tender chicken with a flavorful tare sauce.


Yakitori’s irresistible charm lies in its simplicity and the art of transforming humble chicken into a symphony of flavors. This Japanese delight has transcended borders to become a global favorite, cherished by food enthusiasts everywhere. By embracing the essence of Yakitori in your own kitchen, you can experience the joy of grilling these savory skewers and savoring the authentic taste of Japan. So, gather your ingredients, fire up the grill, and immerse yourself in the delightful world of Yakitori as you create your own culinary masterpiece!