I’m not Japanese, I don’t claim to know anything about Japan. I do watch Iron Chef, but the only things I learn from that are how to make fish ice cream and brain pudding. You will not find these things in my posts. I do, however, dabble in very Americanized Asian cuisine.
A few years ago I found an easy recipe for teriyaki sauce, and since then, I have modified it, made it a dozen times and experimented with it on various meats. Some have been successful, others have not, and as far as the O6 is concerned, this one I’m about to describe for you is the family favorite. And since it is such a favorite, I decided to give you a two-for-one today and include a wickedly simple side that is a “can’t miss” with kids and adults alike.
This dish has been described as a chicken satay, although to be more technically Japanese it would be more appropriately called yakitori, or in other words “on a stick” which also happens to be the preferred serving method for any food item at the Minnesota State Fair. I think you’ll find that this one is easy to pull off, great to make ahead of time and perfect for feeding a large group and the accompanying pineapple planks might make you a local legend.
Let’s get on with it, beginning with the marinade.
In a large zip top bag, combine:
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
3-4 cloves of garlic
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp fresh black pepper
While you’re doing this, put ten or so bamboo skewers into a vessel of water to soak.
A few tips on the above:
- For the ginger, I peel it with a vegetable peeler and then use the garlic press to pulverize it. This frees up a lot of juice, and reduces the solids down to nothing. It saves time and releases tons of flavor.
- You don’t need white pepper, but I like to use it in my pseudo-Asian dishes. If you don’t have any, just use more black pepper (but promise me that you’ll grind it fresh)
- Some recipes call for simmering the whole mixture to reduce it. That is great if you have the time, but I’ve found that when you use it as a baste and marinade, it doesn’t matter too much.
To this bag, add about 6-8 boneless chicken breasts cut the long way into halves or thirds.
Give everything a good shake and let it sit for as long as you can. Overnight in the fridge is perfect, but as usual, I can’t plan that far ahead so if I can get them in for an hour, I’m lucky. It still works out fine this way.
Warm up the grill when you start getting hungry. If you’re making the pineapple planks, now would be a good time to prep them. This is probably the easiest thing you’ll ever find here. You will need the following:
1 whole pineapple
Yep, that’s it. All the work is in the preparation. Start by lopping the top off, then peel the skin with a long thin knife. Chop off the bottom and cut it lengthwise into quarters. Cut the core out of the middle and then cut the quarters (again lengthwise) into three or four planks. There. Done.
Well, not totally. Put them aside for later and find something to drink. Here’s a little something I invented after a trip to Big Lots turned up a 60-cent bottle of “Spicy Ginger” made by Adina World Beat Beverages. Add ice and rum and you’ve got a party for one. The flavors are well suited to this meal as well, so give one a try if you can track down the mixer.
Your grill is probably hot by now. It’s time to poke the chicken. Retrieve the skewers from their bath, and grab the chicken from the fridge. Then run the skewers through the chicken strips, putting one or two pieces on each skewer. Pile them on a plate and head for the grill.
Once the grill is hot (400 degrees), turn the burners down to low/medium and lay out the chicken. Stay close to these, they cook quickly. Flip and twist every two minutes to produce a nice crosshatch pattern. The nice thing about this marinade is that the sugars caramelize well and produce nice dark lines. This makes for a great presentation. As you’re flipping, use the leftover marinade to baste the meat. I should point out that this is ok, but NEVER use leftover marinade as a sauce later. It is fine for a baste because any nasty raw meat stuff will cook, but as a table sauce, since it hasn’t been cooked, you don’t get that protection.
Alongside the chicken, you will want to introduce the pineapple. Bare. Nothing else needed. Although, if you wanted to, you could dust them with some cayenne pepper, or paint them with some hot sauce. The sweet and hot combo is unbelievable. I didn’t do it this time, but I’ve found that pineapple has a way of absorbing the heat and then balancing it with the sweet juice to result in a fantastic engagement of flavors. I tend to find the hotter parts of the grill for these.
But back to the meal at hand. Flip and turn your items until they have reached proper doneness. The chicken should have nice lines and the inside should be white, no pink or anything like that. The pineapple should be shrinking up just a bit, and it too, because of the sugars in it should develop some nice grill marks.
As usual, remove the chicken and the pineapple to foil lined pans and let them rest a few minutes while you get the table ready. The marinade here helps keep the chicken from drying out too much, so if you overcook a bit, no one will know the difference.
So, is this authentic? No. Is it delicious? Yes. And that’s what matters. This combo works equally well for salmon (minus the skewers) or beef (leave the skewers), but the chicken version always results in clean plates and plenty of requests for seconds.