The Sunflower

Good eatin’ on the dime: Turkey bacon yakitori with veggies

Served+alongside+cornbread+or+rice%2C+the+yaki-chicken+and+bacon+skewers+make+a+fitting+summer+afternoon+lunch+or+early+dinner.
Served alongside cornbread or rice, the yaki-chicken and bacon skewers make a fitting summer afternoon lunch or early dinner.

Served alongside cornbread or rice, the yaki-chicken and bacon skewers make a fitting summer afternoon lunch or early dinner.

Served alongside cornbread or rice, the yaki-chicken and bacon skewers make a fitting summer afternoon lunch or early dinner.

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Talk grilled, roasted, and steamed cuisines with central and east asian gourmands and they’ll probably tell it to you straight “We eat with our hands”.

Consider the ancient Vedic civilization of the Indus Valley. They emphasized eating with the hand because it symbolized what they believed to be the five divine elements of existence   space, Earth, air, fire, and water. At meal time, each finger would be held together to scoop food.

Cultures in southeast Asia forgo the use of metal utensils almost entirely. In the Han Dynasty in third-century A.D. China, silver and bronze were deemed far too expensive for dining. To this day, hungry eaters proudly resort to using sprigs of bamboo fashioned into chopsticks.

With that in mind, this week’s dish contradicts the western mindset of forks and knives, sporks, and knorks.

I decided to spin a Japanese favorite  yakitori skewered chicken into something of a true polycultural culinary variety.

 

The ingredients for the skewers are what make it an example of polycultural cuisine. Consisting of a various colors, the dish is rich with color.

 

Ingredients:

Chicken Breasts – 16 oz.

Turkey Bacon – 6 oz.

Mirin (Japanese Cooking Oil) – 6 Tablespoons

Soy Sauce – 6 Tablespoons

Worcestershire Sauce- ½ Cup

Sugar 3 Tablespoons

1 Red Bell Pepper

6 White Baby Potatoes

Lemon Pepper – 1 Tablespoon

Salt – 1 Tablespoon

Black Pepper – Tablespoon

Minced Garlic – 2 Cloves Chopped

Skewers

 

Preparation

The first step is to procure a few cuts of chicken. If you are feeling agrarian or are the subsistent type, a three pound whole bird gutted, skinned, deboned, and cleaned is perfect.Though, for the sake of ease, 16 ounces or three to four boneless chicken breasts will suffice to make about eight skewers. Keeping in mind that you will be adding turkey bacon as well, running short on bird shouldn’t be too big a worry.

Chop each breast into cubes and season with lemon pepper, garlic, salt, and black pepper.

Repeat this process with your strips of turkey bacon after chopping them into 1-inch squares. Remember, bacon is naturally going to have a richer flavor than chicken, so it needs less seasoning.

For a bit of extra zip, soak all cuts of chicken and turkey bacon in a bowl of soy sauce and worcestershire. The meats are good to go.

Now come the veggies. Alongside the bacon, veggie choice is what transforms this dish into an amalgamation of continental, Latin, and Asian cuisine.

Dice the red pepper and white baby potatoes into wedges no larger than the size of shooter marbles or a Kennedy half-dollar piece. Any larger than an inch by an inch and you run the risk of undercooking.   

All the bits for kebabing up the food are now ready.

 

The sweet mirin basting sauce: Warning, this is easy to screw up

Crucial to the flavor of the skewers is the thick, savory, tart sauce in which they are roasted.

Mix the mirin and soy sauce in a saucepan and bring them to a boil. Once the mixture is at a simmer, begin, stirring in sugar in one-tablespoon increments. Add too much sugar at once and you will end up with a mixture that is too thick and over-saturated with glucose. Note that the ingredients will initially have a bitter, alcoholic scent.That’s just the burning mirin.

Keep the sauce on medium or high heat for one to two minutes, stirring constantly. Once it begins to smell sweet like citrus or vanilla bean, cut off the burner heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature.

If you’ve done this correctly, you should have a creamy sauce that both looks and smells like maple syrup.

 

Skewering and roasting

All that’s left to do is skwer up the veggies and meat in any order you want. For the sake of aesthetics, I chose the following combination — chicken, pepper, bacon, potato.

Once eight to 10 skewers are ready, place them on a foil-covered pan and baste them in the mirin and soy sauce mixture with a small pastry brush. Be sure to flip the skewers to marinate both sides equally.

Now, set your oven to roast at 450 degrees and let the skewers cook for about 6 minutes. Then, remove pan and coat each side of the skewers once more with marinade. Repeat this again when you reach 18 minutes of cooking time.

After that, roast until the potatoes, peppers, bacon, and chicken are tender and slightly crisp.

Just before removing from the oven, use remaining sauce to coat the nearly finished skewers.

Let the skewers cool, and serve them with rice or cornbread if you want a continental take on your summer dinner.

 

A bit of perspective

If you have pulled this one off, know that in preparing this dish, you are celebrating the tradition of polycultural food. The yakitori turkey bacon skewers are representative of the staples of world cuisine. Bitter, sour, sweet, salty umami all contribute to make this preparation enjoyable.

The sauce is rich, sweet, tangy; the ghost of the boiled mirin pervades making the turkey bacon and chicken taste of garlic and fine, aged wine. When they hit your taste buds, the red peppers and potatoes have a piquant flare as if you’re dining on enchiladas with chili ancho.

That polyculture of taste, the colors, the reds and pinks of animals’ muscle, yellows and freckled imperfections of roasted potato skin, the wafting of simmered soy and sugar all of it makes for a humble, democratic, good-eating endeavor.

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