• Andrew Zimmern Cooks: Chicken Yakitori


Chicken Thighs & Livers with Yakitori Sauce

By Andrew Zimmern

The secret to making authentic izakaya-style Japanese chicken skewers is in the fresh ginger juice baste and classic yakitori glaze—a craveable combination of dashi, sake, soy and mirin. I like to cook the skewers on a tabletop grill with binchotan, a charcoal made of compressed white oak that burns at high heat. It adds a fun DIY element to your barbecue and allows your guests to help in the cooking process.

Watch Andrew make this recipe:

Chicken Thighs & Livers with Yakitori Sauce

Servings: 4

Total: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1  1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup kombu (1/2 ounce), broken into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup bonito flakes
  • 3 cups sake
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1  1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 bunches scallions (about 12), cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 pound chicken livers
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 pound ginger, peeled and juiced
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • Togarashi, for garnish
  • Hot mustard, for serving


In a saucepan, bring the water and kombu to a simmer. Add the bonito and return to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 3 minutes. Strain the broth into a large saucepan. Add the sake, soy sauce, mirin and sugar to the broth and boil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak bamboo skewers in water for 20 minutes; drain. Alternately thread the chicken thighs and half of the scallions onto one set of skewers. Next, alternately thread the livers and the rest of the scallions on skewers. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Prepare a grill for medium-high direct heat. We are using a Japanese-style tabletop grill with binchotan charcoal. Brush the chicken skewers with oil and grill directly over the heat turning frequently, until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Move the skewers around the grill if necessary to avoid sooty flare-ups. Baste the skewers with the ginger juice and yakitori glaze. Remove from the grill and sprinkle with togarashi. Serve with extra yakitori glaze and hot mustard.

NOTES Kombu is dried seaweed. Bonito flakes are made from smoked bonito or tuna. Both are available online or at Japanese markets.

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