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On the menu since Izakaya Yuzuki’s opening almost two years ago, this skewered grilled chicken dish (a.k.a. yakitori) is a staple on any proper Japanese menu. But the addition of koji—a fermenting agent that brings out the umami of the ingredients—is what sets them apart.


Makes 10 skewers

1 pound ground chicken (dark meat)

2 tablespoons salt Koji (available in the refrigerated section of Japanese markets or from aedansf.com)

2 tablespoons lard

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon sake

1 whole grated yellow onion, strained and squeezed to remove liquid

1 egg

20 shiso leaves

1 1/3 tablespoons potato starch

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1. Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until well blended. 

2. Form into balls or patties on small skewers.

3. Grill over a charcoal fire until cooked through.

4. Dip in the sauce (see recipe below) and serve.



1 cup mirin

3/4 cup soy sauce 

2 tablespoons sugar

1. Combine ingredients in a small saucepan.

2. Gently heat until sugar is dissolved and ingredients are well blended.