900ml sake, flamed off
750ml mirin, flamed off
500ml Yamasa soy sauce
250g Tokyo onion tops
1kg chicken bones
500g zarame sugar
300ml tamari soy
1.5kg chicken wing and drumstick meat
350g soft breastbone (Ask your butcher in advance for the soft breastbone cartilage found between the breast of the chicken – it takes quite a few chickens to reach a substantial amount of meat so advance preparation is important.)
15g sea salt
300g white onion, finely chopped and squeezed dry
120g fresh panko breadcrumbs
1g black pepper
For the tare sauce
Burn the alcohol from both the sake and the mirin (be careful as this flames up pretty high).
Preheat the broiler and, using the Tokyo onion tops and ginger as a bed for the chicken bones, splash everything with sake.
Broil the chicken bones until dark golden brown and the onions are thoroughly wilted.
Drain and discard fat.
Heat the sake and mirin at a low temperature, add zarame sugar (a dark, granulated coffee sugar can be used instead), and mix until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add the chicken bones, ginger and onion and continue to cook at a low temperature for 10 minutes.
Add the regular soy sauce and tamari soy sauce.
Cook on the lowest simmer for about 1.5 hours. Be careful not to boil rapidly as the soy sauce will burn, which will lead to a bitter sauce.
Carefully skim off any fat, strain well and reserve.
This tare sauce is a staple in the Yardbird kitchen and is used in many different dishes. It keeps very well in the refrigerator.
For the tsukune
Carefully remove the meat from the drumstick portion of a chicken wing (including skin and small bits of cartilage but not bone).
Place the meat on a tray and freeze for 20-30 minutes, along with the mechanisms of a meat grinder.
Dice the soft breastbone as small as you can.
Remove the drumstick meat from the freezer and immediately grind.
Put the drumstick meat back through the grinder again.
Vigorously mix in the soft breastbone and sea salt by hand until the mixture becomes dense.
Add thoroughly washed and squeezed white onions, panko breadcrumbs and pepper.
Portion the meatball mixture into 50g mini-footballs, thread a 6-inch bamboo skewer inside each ball and keep chilled.
Tare and egg yolk dipping sauce
Dilute the original tare sauce by 50% with room temperature water.
Drop in separated egg yolks (one per skewer) and let this sit for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Despite being soaked in tare sauce, the eggs are essentially raw so it’s very important to buy the highest quality eggs that you can find.
After 2 hours, place a semi-cured egg yolk into a small bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons of tare sauce.
We encourage our guests to mix the egg yolk vigorously in the tare sauce and dip the meatball inside.
The grill at Yardbird uses two metal bars that suspend our yakitori skewers over Japanese binchotan charcoal – this ensures that the meat never actually touches the grill. The meatball skewers, like all of our skewers, are sprayed with sake and then slowly grilled. Once a meatball is almost cooked (3-5 minutes of constant turning) it is repeatedly dipped into tare sauce until the meat is cooked all the way through and the outside has a dark and shiny brown glaze.
Each meatball skewer is served with a tare and egg yolk dipping sauce.