chicken yakitori with leeks

Lindsey Bareham

Most kebabs benefit from the meat being marinated first. These don’t; instead, completed kebabs are painted with tangy, salty yakitori sauce, the little chunks of chicken interspersed with lengths of blanched leek. Yakitori sauce can be bought in a bottle but it’s a cinch to make your own, its hauntingly alcoholic tangy flavour and dark colour a revelation. Serve with something simple; I opted for baby courgettes quickly deep-fried in lumpy tempura batter (100g flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 225ml fizzy water).

serves 4, prep 20 min, cook 25 min

100ml soy sauce
100ml sweet sherry
2 tsp wine vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
squeeze lemon juice
4 medium-thick trimmed leeks
8-10 chicken thigh fillets
wooden kebab sticks

Immerse the kebab sticks in cold water. Simmer soy, sherry, vinegar, sugar and lemon juice in a small pan, swirling to ensure the sugar melts. Simmer gently, reducing by half and thus thicken and become glue-like, with the consistency of sticky ketchup; allow about 15 min. Boil the kettle. Cut the leek into 5cm lengths, agitate in a bowl of water to loosen any dirt. Drop into a pan of boiling, salted water from the kettle, boil for 4 min or until tender to the point of a sharp knife. Drain, spreading out on a plate to cool.

Cut the chicken into small kebab size pieces. Thread the kebab sticks with 2 or 3 pieces of leek laid horizontally between the chicken; I allowed 5 or 6 pieces chicken and 2-3 lengths leek. Use a pastry brush to paint liberally on both sides with yakitori sauce. Cook over BBQ coals at white ash stage or on a pre-heated griddle pan for 3 min a side, repeated if not cooked to your liking.