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Yakitori Nanbansu, Sweet and Sour Grilled Chicken Skewers



Print Sweet and Sour Yakitori


Does it get any better than this? 

I've had my eye on the Yakitori grill for a long time.


It's not all that expensive but dang, do I have space for it? not really, would it be pretty darned cool to have? absolutely, do I really need to spend the money? no. Well, earlier this month I was in World Market and saw that it went on sale for half price, do I have space for it? I'll find some, I'll be the coolest cook on the block, and I'm saving money. 

I couldn't wait to use it so I googled some Yakitori recipes. Here's what I did.

Marinate the chicken in a mixture of rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce and sugar called Nanbansu. 

Thread the marinated chicken onto bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes, that helps prevent the skewers from burning. 
Try and get some flat skewers, they are much easier to handle and the food doesn't spin on the skewers when you turn them on the grill. 
I took them right out of the marinade and onto the skewers, I didn't pat them dry. I also threaded some pieces of spring onion on with the chicken. 

I grilled them out on the patio under a blue canvas umbrella so the colors are not the best.  


I followed the instructions that came with the grill and started the charcoal in the grill. I even hunted down the Japanese charcoal binchotan, which wasn't hard to find in my area. It's very similar to natural hard lump charcoal which will do just fine. 

That's not a marshmallow, it's a firestarter. 


 I love how it snaps, crackles and pops. 


Settle down with a few hors d'oeuvres, your beverage of choice and enjoy.  
Actually, I found it very relaxing, I just sat there turning the skewers, sipping wine and enjoying the evening. 

Yakitori Nanbansu, Sweet and Sour Grilled Chicken Skewers


  • For the Nanbansu Marinade and Dip:
    1/2 cup rice vinegar (120ml)
    1/2 cup mirin (120ml)
    1/4 cup soy sauce (60ml)
    1/4 cup sugar (1 3/4 ounces; 50g)


  1. For the Chicken Skewers:
    1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast and/or thighs (450g), cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces
    Shichimi togarashi or yuzu kosho, for serving (optional; see note)

  2. For the Nanbansu Marinade and Dip:
    In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, and sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Nanbansu will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

  3. For the Chicken Skewers: zipper-lock bag (if using breast and thigh meat together, place each in a separate bag). Pour 2/3 Place chicken meat in a 1-gallon cup marinade into the bag (or 1/3 cup into each bag), press out the air, and seal. Let marinate 8 hours.

    Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes (to prevent them from burning up on the grill). Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
    Meanwhile, thread 5 to 6 pieces of chicken (keeping breast and thigh meat separate) onto each skewer, pushing the pieces together so that they’re touching. (This will keep the meat from drying out, but will ensure that the exteriors get crispy.)

    Grill chicken skewers over high heat, turning frequently, until well browned outside and cooked through on the inside, about 10 minutes total. If chicken begins to burn at any point, move to cooler side of grill to finish cooking. Serve chicken skewers with the remaining nanbansu on the side for dipping.
    If you like, you can also sprinkle some shichimi togarashi (Japanese chili blend) onto the skewers or mix a little yuzu kosho into the nanbansu dipping sauce for some extra flavor and heat.

    Recipe from Michael Harlan Turkell Serious Eats