If you enjoy yakitori (grilled skewered chicken), you will fall in love with yakiton, Japanese grilled skewered pork.
Yakiton is cooked pretty much like yakitori — cut the meat into bite-size pieces, thread into a bamboo skewer, grill on both sides while brushing with tare several times during cooking.
Are the green onion stalks a must? Not really. But the yakiton that inspired our home version was cooked that way. We had just finished walking under the torii gates at Fushimi Inari when, lo and behold, there was an alley line with food stalls on both sides. Yakiton was the first item I ordered.
I watched the cook grill the meat. Partially cooked pork, apparently, because pork doesn’t cook as fast as chicken. Well, unless you use a cut like pork tenderloin which requires just a few minutes on the grill.
But ternderloin is fatless and, for grilled meat, we are partial to cuts with lots of fat. It is the fat, after all, that keeps the meat moist during cooking. And that’s in addition to contributing flavors.
Almost any part of the pig, including its organs, can be skewered and cooked as yakiton
The cut of meat you use for cooking yakiton is totally up to you, naturally. If you’re not an offal virgin, know that almost any part of the pig may be used. Jowl, heart, intestines, liver, tongue… In Asia, wasting any part of an edible animal is discouraged.
Brushing the pork with tare is good but plain salt will do
As for the seasoning, we brushed the pork with tare and allowed the meat to absorb the flavors of the sauce. But brushing the meat with sauce during grilling is not a requirement. The pork may be sprinkled, quite simply, with salt before going on the grill.
Our version is brushed with tare — inspired by the unforgettable yakiton at Fushimi Inari — and cooked in the broiler.
Yakiton: Japanese Grilled Skewered Pork
- 500 grams pork belly (in one piece) simmered, uncut, in lightly salted water for an hour then cooled to room temperature
- 4 to 6 stalks green onion (you'll need thick stalks for this)
- 6 bamboo skewers soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
- ½ cup tare sauce
- Preheat the broiler to 400F.
- Slice the cooked pork belly into one-centimeter (about half inch) slices then cut each slice into bite-size pieces.
- Cut off the root ends of the green onion and discard. Cut off the dark green part of the stalks and set aside (you may use them to make broth). You need only the white and light green portion for making yakiton.
- Peel off the tough outer stalk of the green onion and discard. Cut the trimmed green onion into two-inch lengths.
- Take a bamboo skewer, thread a piece of pork in it followed by a piece of green onion. Repeat until you have four to five pieces of pork in the skewer. Do the same for the rest of the pork and green onions.
- Arrange the pork skewers in a tray and brush the top side with tare. Broil for two to three minutes.
- Turn the pork skewers over and brush with tare. Broil for another two to three minutes.
- Repeat until the pork and green onions are nicely charred.
- Serve the yakiton immediately. They're really best while hot!