If you've been to an Izakaya joint in Japan, then you'll know why I'm such a sucker for these mince chicken meatballs. For those who haven't.. An Izakaya is a type of 'Japanese Drinking Establishment' which serves all sorts of tapas style food to accompany the drinks. If I remember correctly, these chicken meatballs are usually found at the BBQ skewers or Yakitori section of the menu. And they are absolutely delicious. :)
This is my first attempt at replicating these. I managed to find a few reference recipes online, but as always.. its hard to find authentic japanese recipes written in english. I was actually pretty pleased with the end result, as it actually tasted quite similar to what I remember having in Japan.
After mincing and putting all the ingredients together in my Magimix food processor aka Petals, I found the mixture to be quite flimsy. I had already added some cornflour to help the mince meat stick together. But I wasn't sure if the chicken mixture would be able to hold it's 'meatball' shape when I grilled it. So instead of throwing them straight on a grill pan, I decided to put them in some boiling water so that the outer 'meatball' shell is formed first.
Thats about when I stumbled upon this recipe from Rasa Malaysia and realised the author also boiled the meatballs prior to grilling them. Her yakitori sauce also made a bit more food sense. I had run out of ginger at home, so that may account for the slight discrepancy in taste. The next time I make these, I'll definitely try with some ginger.
Tsukune - Japanese Chicken Meatballs
Recipe adapted from Rasa Malaysia
For the Chicken:
- 300g chicken mince
- 1 cup chopped spring onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 teapsoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cornflour
- Skewers (soaked in water for at least 30 mins)
- tablespoon salt
Yakitori Basting Sauce:
- 4 tablespoons sake
- 5 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon corn starch blended with 1 teaspoon water
- Blend the spring onions and garlic into the food processor
- Using the bigger bowl in the food processor, mince the chicken, then added processed spring onions and garlic and combine well.
- Add egg and the rest of the seasoning ingredients to the chicken mince. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
- Wet your hands and scoop about a tablespoonful of the mixture into your palm. Shape it into a small ball about the size of a golf ball.
- Bring a saucepan of water with about a tablespoon of salt to boil
- Add the chicken balls and boil for about 7 minutes, or until the color of the meat changes and the balls float to the surface. Scoop out and drain on a plate covered with paper towels.
- In a small pan, mix all the ingredients for the yakitori sauce, except for the corn starch solution. Bring the mixture to boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce slightly reduced. Add the corn starch solution and stir until the sauce is thickened. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Thread 3-4 balls on to each bamboo skewer. Grill the skewers on a grill pan. Brush them with the yakitori sauce and turn the skewers frequently until the balls turn brown.
- Serve while its hot with a wedge of lemon. Sprinkle with shichimi togarashi (Japanese chile powder with sesame seeds) and some yakitori sauce if you like.