Yakitori: Grab This One by the Neck


Grilled seseri

It’s a shame, really. Why take a perfectly delicious chicken, and only eat the “white meat” and “dark meat?” Chicken organs (not just the liver) of all varieties have something to offer. And then of course there’s nankotsu, or chicken cartilage, that can be grilled (usually the case with the cartilage than comes from the breast) or fried into crisp little balls (as is usually done with the knee cartilage). Why stop below the neck? The chicken neck itself has lots of fans, and for good reason: Seseri, as chicken neck is known, has great mouthfeel from its tight, muscular core and the surrounding, tasty, fatty part.

Seseri is a mainstay at yakitori restaurants, where grilling up chicken is their specialty. The neck is cut into bite-sized pieces, impaled (sorry for the imagery), seasoned, grilled, then brought right to your table. It will be juicy, but firm on the inside. Some say the consistency is not so distant from that of eating grilled chicken hearts. It can be eaten as just one of many items you might order at a yakitori restaurant, or it can also be enjoyed as something to nibble on, otsumami style, as you drink a beer or two.

Predictably, there’s more to be done with a chicken neck than a simple skewer-and-grill treatment. Seseri can be part of a scrumptious stir-fry, be it as a ponzu and mushroom mashup, or as a green onion and miso dish. It holds its own when stir-fried with some gizzard, too. Frying is another very viable approach to enjoying seseri. With the ever-strong popularity of curry flavors in Japan, one popular recipe is to marinate the neck in curry powder and Japanese rice wine, then give the drained wings a light flouring before frying them up to a golden brown color.

They say that sticking your neck out is bound to lead to bad things, but the thing with those old sayings is that sometimes they just aren’t true.

Looking to try yakitori in Tokyo?
Japan Gourmetpedia recommends using our sister site, Tokyo Dinner Ticket, to find the perfect restaurant.


Yakitori at restaurant Torinosuke Toritaro in Shinjuku

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