Our 11 Best Japanese Grilling Recipes to Feed Your Need For Yakitori

The best Japanese teriyaki and yakitori recipes to turn your home into an izakaya

By SAVEUR Editors

Published on April 3, 2017

Grilled meats are as iconically Japanese as sushi and ramen—some of our best Japanese recipes are grilled and skewered rather than rolled or simmered. Until the 19th century, most cooking in Japan was done over traditional hearths called irori built right into traditional homes. Nowadays, most who have moved into the cities don't have the proper space to grill, but one can still satisfy their cravings at Japanese barbecue joints serving up yakitori all over the country.

The kiss of smoke on grilled meats and vegetables adds something irresistible to the dish, but trying to replicate these flavors in a tiny apartment kitchen can be difficult. If you don't have the outdoor space for a traditional grill set-up, try using a broiler or investing in this portable Japanese konro grill, which functions as a all-purpose workhorse for Japanese grilled recipes. The grill is good for just about any of our global grilling recipes, but for a Japanese twist, we'd recommend using Japanese binchotan charcoal, a clean-burning fuel that burns long and hot—perfect for getting that sear on the perfect grilling recipe. From Japanese grilled chicken meatballs to grilled tomatoes, here are our best Japanese grilling recipes. And for more, check out Tadashi Ono's ode to Japanese grilling this way.

Japanese Grilled Chicken Meatballs (Tsukune)

Full-flavored chicken meatballs smothered in a sweet and salty glaze. Get the recipe for Japanese Grilled Chicken Meatballs (Tsukune) »

Koji-Cured Grilled Salmon
Koji-Cured Grilled Salmon

There are two types used for cooking: Ama-koji and Shio-koji. Ama-koji, called for here, has no salt, so you can control the seasoning yourself. In this simple recipe, it’s added to salmon fillets before they hit the grill, which lightly cures them and adds an umami kick. Get the recipe for Koji-Cured Grilled Salmon »

The Japanese ingredient koji is the fungus that grows on rice, barley, soybeans, or corn after it is inoculated with a fermentation culture called Aspergillus oryzae. It resembles thin rice porridge and is full of enzymes that produce amino acids when they interact with protein. One of those amino acids, glutamate, is responsible for the taste we know as umami, which is present in miso and soy sauce and makes foods especially savory and flavorful.

Mushroom Foil Yaki
Mixed Mushroom Foil Yaki

Mushrooms get cooked in a foil pouch with Asian sauces in this effortless “one-foil” dish. Get the recipe for Mixed Mushroom Foil Yaki »

Leek and Clam Foil Yaki
Clam, Leek, and King Oyster Mushroom Foil Yaki

Clams, leeks, and king oyster mushrooms get cooked in a foil pouch that resembles a Jiffy Pop. Get the recipe for Clam, Leek, and King Oyster Mushroom Foil Yaki »

Salmon, Scallion, and Enoki Mushroom Foil Yaki

Your new favorite way to cook salmon: with Asian sauces, scallions, and enoki mushrooms, all wrapped up in a foil pouch. Get the recipe for Salmon, Scallion, and Enoki Mushroom Foil Yaki »

Tadashi's Grilled Tomatoes
Tadashi's Grilled Tomatoes

Ripe tomatoes develop umami-rich flavor when grilled with a soy sauce marinade. Mitsuba, a Japanese relative of parsley, lends a mild cilantro-like freshness. Get the recipe for Tadashi’s Grilled Tomatoes »

Garlic and Red-Miso Porterhouse
Garlic and Red-Miso Porterhouse

A marinade of red miso, ginger, and garlic gives this steak a crisp, flavorful crust and a juicy interior. Get the recipe for Garlic and Red-Miso Porterhouse »

Chicken and Scallion Skewers with Yakitori Sauce (Negima Yakitori)
Chicken and Scallion Skewers with Yakitori Sauce (Negima Yakitori)

These simple chicken and scallion skewers gain loads of flavor from a basting of homemade yakitori sauce, a versatile marinade for most any meat or vegetable. Get the recipe for Chicken and Scallion Skewers with Yakitori Sauce (Negima Yakitori) »

Salmon Yakitori
Salmon Yakitori

These salmon skewers are basted with a sweet sauce, then grilled over charcoal to caramelize the sauce and add a smoky flavor. Get the recipe for Salmon Yakitori »

Grilled Scallops
Grilled Scallops with Yuzu Kosho Vinaigrette

Don’t let delicate yuzu or the briny, creaminess of scallops become overpowered by other styles of beer: a Pilsner belongs on the table here. Get the recipe for Grilled Scallops with Yuzu Kosho Vinaigrette »

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