Make these Japanese chicken meatball skewers at your next family dinner

  • It is always fun to find recipes the family can cook together, so here’s one that parents and teens can whip up
  • This seasoned meat is glazed onto a hot grill and served with a salty-sweet yakitori sauce
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Chicken skewers with a salty-sweet yakitori sauce. Photo: TNS

It’s always special for families to come together and cook. Iron Chef and cookbook author Alex Guarnaschelli, alongside her teenage daughter, Ava, show exactly how fun and inspirational cooking together can be in their new cookbook Cook it Up: Bold Moves for Family Foods.

In it, they share more than 70 recipes that define their modern family meals together. Ava tends to find inspiration on TikTok, while Alex draws on her classic French culinary training, decades of repetitive cooking in restaurants and cooking on TV.

“We just want kids and adults to cook together and share their ideas with one another,” they write in the foreword. “Ava told me, ‘I don’t want kids to think they have to just cook kid food, Mom, OK?’”

Here we have an easy recipe for skewered chicken meatballs using two cooking techniques: After being shaped into balls or cylinders, the seasoned meat is first simmered in water and then browned and glazed onto a hot grill with salty-sweet yakitori sauce.

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Japanese chicken meatball skewers (serves 4)

  • 1 pound ground chicken

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 small shallot, grated

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch (also called cornflour)

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce, divided

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, divided

  • 3 tablespoons mirin rice wine

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • Metal or wooden skewers, for grilling

  • Steamed rice, for serving

1. Make the meatballs: In large bowl, combine chicken with breadcrumbs, shallot, ginger, cornstarch, a generous pinch of salt, the egg and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. (I minced the ginger and shallot instead of microplaning it.) Use a rubber spatula to combine, then add 1 tablespoon vinegar.

2. Roll the mixture into 24 meatballs or 18 cigar-shaped cylinders.

3. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet. Fill a shallow 2-quart pot 3/4 full and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season water with salt.

4. Rub a wooden spoon with oil to prevent the meatballs from sticking, and carefully drop 6-8 meatballs in water. Simmer until they are completely cooked through, 5-7 minutes. (You can test by removing one and cutting it in half.) Use a slotted spoon to remove to rack.

5. Return water to simmer and repeat with remaining meatballs.

6. While meatballs are cooling, make sauce. In a small saucepan, combine remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, mirin, remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar and sugar, and cook over medium heat until slightly thick, 2-3 minutes.

7. Preheat a grill or grill pan. While it’s heating, thread 3 meatballs or 1 cylinder on the upper half of each skewer.

8. When grill starts to smoke, dip a kitchen towel in oil and use it to grease the grill grates. Arrange a few skewers side by side.

9. Cook for 5 minutes, until browned, grill marked and hot. Repeat with remaining skewers. Using a brush, glaze the meatballs with the sauce and serve warm.

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