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.
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.