Japanese New Year’s staple “Tsukune” never fails to satisfy your taste buds. They are scrumptiously plump chicken meatballs on skewers, coated with the famous Teriyaki sauce.
What is Tsukune?
The name Tsukune is derived from the Japanese verb “Tsukuneru” which means knead by hands. So Tsukune is any ground meat (including fish) kneaded by hands, and shaped into round balls to cook.
Yakitori Grill Restaurant Staple Menu
Tsukune is a Yakitori Grill Restaurant staple menu. It is not just a staple menu but also super popular. “Why?”, I hear you ask. Because it is tremendously juicy inside and covered with finger licking special Teriyaki Sauce. Furthermore, they are grilled over charcoal.
What’s in Tsukune?
Chicken tsukune, especially Yakitori Grill Restaurant style, contains chicken cartilage. Common ingredients are ground chicken meat, onion or green shallots, ginger and seasoning.
Tips to make Tsukune, just like a Yakitori grill shop
Choice of chicken meat
If chicken cartilage is readily available, I recommend to get some and mince them together with chicken thigh and breast at home. I could not get any, so for the this post I used already grounded chicken mince from a supermarket.
You need to cook them first in a frying pan, and then grill them over the fish grill. (Like in the photo above) This mimics the method a Yakitori Grill restaurant cooks them.
Make My Special Teriyaki Sauce
I add sesame seed oil, oyster sauce and garlic to make ordinary Teriyaki sauce more rich in flavour.
Soak skewers beforehand
Japanese people are big on presentation. So burnt skewers do not look good. In order to avoid burning the skewers, you need to first soak the skewers in water.
Which way do you like to eat Tsukune? There are a few variations of how Japanese people would eat them. Simply just with salt? Or with an egg yolk like Yakitori Grill Restaurant style? In the photo above I have used a flavoured matcha salt. My favourite is eat these tasty chicken meatballs with my special teriyaki sauce.
I started sharing my authentic Japanese home cooking recipes in 2015. Because I loooove Japanese food and taking photographs, I wanted to improve my photography skills. I have learnt a lot since 2015, and improved both styling and shooting with the advice from Nagi’s photography book.
New Year’s Feast
I shared my Tsukune recipe as part of the New Year’s Feast back in 2015. Check out other New Year’s Feast recipes such as Kohaku Namasu (carrot and daikon radish vinegared salad), Sekihan (Azuki bean rice), Kuri Kinton (Mashed Chestnuts) and Datemaki (Sweet egg omelette roll)
If you liked my recipe for Tsukune Chicken Meatballs on Skewers, please rate it and leave a comment below. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with all the latest happenings on Chopstick Chronicles. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ChopstickChronicles so I see your wonderful creations!
Tsukune chicken meatballs
- 250 g chicken mince *1
- 1/2 an onion finely chopped or 35g
- 5 cm Green shallots finely chopped or 35g *2
- 2 tsp Katakuriko (Potato starch)
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sake
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp Sesame seeds oil
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped or minced
- 3 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
Tsukune Chicken meatballs
- Pour water in a small bowl and soak 8 skewers and set aside.
- Place all chicken meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and knead with your hands till all the ingredients are combined well.
- Divide the mince into 8 equal portions.
- Drain the soaking water from the skewers and wipe excess water off,
- Put some sesame seed oil on your hands and shape the mince into a mini sausage, then attach to a skewer. Repeat same for 7 remaining mince portions.
- Heat sesame seed oil in a large frying pan on medium heat and add the Tsukune chicken meatballs on skewers into the frying pan.
- Cook until both sides are browned and mince is cooked through. This takes about 10 minutes.
- Once the meatballs are finished cooking, transfer them to a plate.
- Heat a fish grill over medium heat and brush it with sesame seed oil. * 3
- Grill the Tsukune chicken meatballs on skewers for a couple minutes on each side to get nicely browned.
- Once all Tsukune chicken meatballs are browned nicely, turn the heat off and set aside.
- Brush with the special Teriyaki sauce to serve.
Special Teriyaki Sauce
- Heat sesame seed oil in a small saucepan.
- Add minced garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant.
- Add all the sauce ingredients together into the sauce pan and cook over medium heat to reduce the sauce.
- Once the sauce is reduced and thickened, turn the heat off and set aside.