Yakitori: Meatless Chicken Skin?!

Chicken skin yakitori

Chicken skin yakitori

For everyone out there who religiously removes chicken skin before eating the meat, this post is going to hurt. In a land where the “fat equals flavor” mantra is oft repeated, Japanese are bound to enjoy not just chicken with the skin left on, but also chicken that is just skin.

Chicken skin as a food item unto itself is generally only something seen at yakitori restaurants, where their specialty is skewering bite-sized pieces of chicken on thin bamboo sticks, then charcoal grilling them. The “kawa,” as the Japanese call skin, is cut up into one or two centimeter squares, then skewered up. This conga line of skin squares is then grilled up until a nice crisp is going. A bit of a thin, sweet sauce may be applied, but often just a bit of salt is all that’s really needed to best enjoy the flavor. (For those who like things a little spicy, there’s always some red pepper blend, or “shichimi,” on the table for you to be as judicious as you’d like with.)

Now, if you really don’t like chicken skin, this preparation is not going to bring you any peace, love, or happiness. However, if you are up to giving it a try, or already a (most likely embarrassed) chicken skin lover, grilled chicken skin at a yakitori restaurant just may lead to you having an out of body experience. Am I overselling it? How does super flavorful fattiness with just the right crunch sound to you? Remind you of something else, like perhaps bacon? Think of the grilled chicken skin as the bacon of chicken products (though it is not smoked), and then thinking about throwing caution to the wind and ordering another stick or two of it! But whatever you do, don’t chicken out.

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


Yakitori at restaurant Toritetsu in Shinjuku


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