Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)
つくね / 鶏のつくね
You can have a lot of fun experimenting with tsukune, or Japanese chicken meatballs. If you haven't tried these minced patties of deliciousness, get yourself to a yakitori joint asap. There's a lot of variation in tsukune, from what goes into them, to how they look, to the accompaniments they are served with. I've found that the key is the cut of chicken meat -- use something tender and fatty, like thighs ... stay away from chicken breasts at all costs!
- appx 1 1/4 lb boneless chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp sugar
- couple grinds of black pepper
- generous pinch of salt
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp mirin
- 1 thin slice of ginger, peeled & grated
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1-2 stalks green onion, chopped
- 1 slice green chili pepper, minced (optional)
- bit of grated lemon rind
- 7-8 bamboo skewers
- Soak the bamboo skewers in water for a while so that they won't burn. (I kind of rushed this step so mine burned a bit).
- Clean up the chicken thighs, removing any gross bits, if needed. If they are skin-on, remove the skin off of all of them and save one skin. Put the chicken meat into a food processor and one chicken skin and pulse so that the chicken gets roughly chopped. Remove from the food processor and chop a bit more with a knife to ensure there are no overly large pieces. The ideal texture is uniformly chopped, but not ground up like you get from the supermarket. Put the chicken in a mixing bowl.
- Dissolve the sugar, pepper and salt in the soy sauce and mirin. Mix into the chicken with the rest of the ingredients using your hands.
- Now, to form the patties -- oil your hands and get a tray to put the patties on. While I formed boring old meatballs, other shapes include forming a long tube/patty pierced by two skewers.
- You can also cook these meatballs in a variety of ways. At yakitori restaurant, typically they are grilled, but if this is inconvenient, you can broil them in the oven (broil, check after 10 minutes) or fry in a pan. Serve with your choice of condiments, whether yakitori sauce, a raw egg (that's right) or a daub of Japanese mayonnaise.
Serving Size: 3-4
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Preparation Time: 30 minutes