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Yakitori? It is Japanese understatement.

Yakitori is chicken meticulously divided Japanese-style and grilled over coals. It offers an astonishing variety of visual and taste dimensions to sample at this relaxed outdoor party.

Each part of the chicken becomes a separate element in a collection of skewered foods. Dip them into a clinging, flavorful sauce to grill quickly over coals. Also skewer shiitake mushroom caps and ginkgo nuts to cook with the chicken.

Lean and light, this economical dinner invites a leisurely pace. Present a tray of skewered foods at the table. Guests choose from the tray and cook the foods on a tabletop hibachi (within easy reach of all) or put their choices under the care of the host, who oversees the hibachi.

Accompany yakitori with hot cooked rice; an assortment of Japanese pickles made from cucumber, onion, burdock root, daikon, or mixed vegetables; and clear soup to sip (made from a Japanese mix). For dessert, offer strawberries and sliced oranges with plum wine.

At each place, have a little dish for soy sauce; individual plates for yakitroi, rice, and pickles; a bowl for soup; and bring on dessert later.

The skewered foods take time to assemble, but can be put together a day ahead.

You can find special ingredients at a Japanese market or a well-stocked supermarket that carries Oriental foods. Buy extra giblets, if desired.

The coals for yakitori must be hot. Start with a two-deep layer of ignited charcoal briquets. To maintain heat, add about 8 ignited charcoals to the hibachi every 20 to 30 minutes (keep a supply coming from another hibachi or barbecue).

Yakitori About 10 dozen slender wooden 8- to 9-inch skewers Water 2 broiler-fryer chickens, cut up (3 to 4 lb. each, including giblets) Chicken balls (directions follow) 5 to 7 green onions 1/2 small green or red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded 4 to 6 large (3-1/2-in. caps) or 8 to 16 small (1-1/2-in. caps) fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms 1 can (about 6 oz.) ginkgo nuts Yakitori glaze (directions follow) or purchased teriyaki baste and glaze Sansho pepper, salt, and soy sauce

Lay skewers in a rimmed pan; pour water over to cover; let stand at least 1/2 hour. Rinse chicken and giblets and pat dry. Pull off all skin and cut into strips about 1 by 3 inches; set aside.

Bone breasts, thighs, and drumsticks; cut their meat into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes. If necessary, cut thin pieces larger and fold to make this size; keep light and dark meat separate. Reserve odd-shaped scraps to make chicken balls; if needed, add thigh and breast meat to make 3/4 pound. Cut wings apart at the joints. Cut livers and gizzards apart where a natural separation occurs. Set wings and giblets aside.

Trim any large bits of meat from breast and back bones and add to scraps; reserve bones for stock, if desired, or discard.

Thread each piece of skin lengthwise onto a skewer.

Cut off and discard onion ends. Cut white portion into 3/4- to 1-inch lengths. Thread 3 pieces breast onto each skewer, with a section of onion, perpendicular to skewer, between meat.

Cut bell peppers into strips 1/4 inch wide and 3/4 1 inch long. Thread 3 pieces thigh onto each skewer, placing a strip of bell pepper, perpendicular to skewer, between pieces of meat.

Skewer each section of wing, running skewer alongside bone. Thread 2 or 3 pieces liver, gizzard, and heart onto each skewer. Push 1 or 2 chicken balls onto each skewer. Arrange chicken on a tray, grouping by kinds.

Soak dried mushrooms in hot water until soft, about 15 minutes. Rinse soaked or fresh mushrooms, gently squeeze out water, and trim stems. Thread a skewer horizontally through 1 or 2 mushroom caps. Place on tray with chicken.

Drain ginkgo nuts; rinse. Thread 4 or 5 nuts onto each skewer, using all. Place on tray with chicken.

If made ahead, cover everything and chill up to overnight.

To cook yakitori. Pour yakitori glaze in a narrow glass or jar. Dip skewered foods into glaze; lift out, draining briefly.

Lay skewered foods on grill over hot coals in a hibachi (see directions for coals, preceding). Turn foods to cook evenly; dip into glaze as many times as desired.

Cooked skin should be slightly crisp and browned; white and dark meat and chicken balls should no longer be pink in center, and giblets should look moist in center (cut to test); mushrooms and ginkgo should be very hot and well glazed. Total cooking time for foods ranges from 5 to 15 minutes. Season foods to taste with sansho pepper, salt, or soy sauce. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Chicken balls. Finely chop reserved chicken scraps in a food processor, or small portions at a time in a blender; you should have 1-1/2 cups. Mix with 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sake, 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Shape chicken into 1-inch balls; roll each to coat in 3/4 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) or fine dry bread crumbs.

Yakitori glaze. In a 2- to 3-quart pan, combine 1-1/4 cup sake, 2/3 mirin (sweet sake), 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup soy sauce. Boil, uncovered, until reduced to 1-1/2 cups. Use, or cover and refrigerate as long as overnight.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:May 1, 1985
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