NOTE: I actually made this recipe about a month ago, and wrote it up about then. I’m trying to pace out recipes and vary them up as I post them. This turned out to be a good idea, as work doesn’t leave me much energy at the end of the day at the moment.
Some of you may know, if you’ve been following me for awhile, that ever since childhood, one of my favorite parts of the bird is the heart. A little morsel packed with umami and capable of bring out the best in the bird, any bird. (Okay, duck breast brings out the very best of ANY bird, if done right!)
When Mother used to make her awesome giblet stuffing and gravy for the Thanksgiving turkey, if I were anywhere in sight, that heart would never make it to the stuffing or gravy. Once cooked, I was ready to nab it!
Recently, I drove down to Hartsdale, NY to visit a H-Mart, one of a Korean chain of groceries, and the closest link to my home. (It was my very first real driving trip of length after breaking that ankle, and the trip was rather physically taxing — the driving and the walking, but it was time to test myself, so I could go back to work properly.) At any rate, I purchased these really fresh and large chicken hearts there, as well as the head of “long Napa cabbage that serves as photo backdrop and a nice accompaniment to my meal. Regards the long Napa cabbage: It is indeed longer than regular Napa cabbage but the head itself is smaller — as in less waste for a single person trying to finish a whole cabbage!
I’ll talk more about H-Mart at the end of this post, and there will be a more specific H-Mart post in the near future. Let’s get to the yakatori!
At most Japanese restaurants (that I am aware of in the US), if you order yakatori, you get bits of chicken breast on a skewer, mostly about chicken-heart size. understandably, as it is very popular here.
But I’d known for some time that the Japanese skewer chicken hearts, cook and eat them. I’d done the Brazilian skewered chicken heart recipe last summer for this blog, and I’d really been waiting for the chance to try the Japanese version.
Once getting my hearts home, I surfed around for generalized yakatori recipes, and came up with this one:
NY Times: Yakatori Chicken with Ginger, Garlic and Soy Sauce In which the intrepid Times correspondent suggests chicken liver, gizzards or pieces of chicken thigh!
If you look at the recipe from the Times, I inadvertently mixed up their suggestion for sherry quantities for the mirin quantities. It turned out fine, anyway. Running back and forth from the laptop screen plays a toll! (And no, I’m not squinting at a minuscule phone screen whilst cooking!)
Prep Time: Around 2 hours marinating
Cook Time: 15-18 minutes
Rest Time: 5 minutes, especially if using metal skewers
Serves: 1-2 people, or maybe you want to introduce others to the wonders of chicken hearts? More as tasting appetizers.
CHICKEN HEART YAKATORI
- 0.6 – 1 pound chicken hearts (OR, the suggested livers, gizzards or boneless skinless thigh meat, sliced small and de-fatted). I actually purchased the lower amount suggested, but made the full volume sauce as delineated below.
- ½ cup low sodium gluten-free tamari, or, ½ cup dark soy sauce — which I haven’t been able to find gluten-free or low sodium, to date. Adapt as you need!
- 2 tablespoons mirin (Chinese cooking wine)
- ¼ cup dry sherry (or generic sake)
- 1 tablespoon organic coconut cane sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- Optionally, Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
- Serve on a bed of lettuce — or better yet, leaves of long Napa cabbage.
In a small pot, combine soy sauce or tamari, mirin, sherry (sake), sugar, garlic and ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes, until this sauce thickens. Put aside around 2 tablespoons of this sauce for serving, uncontaminated by raw chicken. Pour remaining sauce over chicken (hearts or otherwise), cover, and chill for at least one hour (and up to 4 hours). I marinated this for two hours.
If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for around one hour. I decided to go hog-wild (er, chicken-wild) and use the metal skewers from my parents’ legacy. Thread the hearts onto the skewers.
Make sure your grill is ready, whether an indoor one or an outdoor one — OR, set your oven to broil. If the latter, you’ll do best to arrange to hang the skewers you are cooking on so they drip into a bottom pan. In this case, I used the George Foreman electric grill, pre-heated. I allowed the hearts to cook about 7-8 minutes a side, before turning them. (I understand thigh meat takes about 6 minutes a side, and gizzards about ten?)
In the last minute or so, slather on that reserved sauce! (You can also use some as a dipping sauce after the hearts (or whatever chicken part) is served.)
NOTE: Please use finger-caution when removing food from metal skewers. Burns are no fun.
H-Mart drove me and my ankle crazy trying to arrive at it. I nearly gave up in disgust, but I’d already put myself through too many miles to get down there to Hartsdale. My Google Maps app on the phone had ceased to SPEAK to me — I’m not sure what’s caused this huff, but I hate that. But it provided visuals, and since traffic was slow, I did look at the screen often enough to get where I was going. (We gotta FIX this!)
I suspect if the name K-Mart, hadn’t already been taken… H-Mart would be K-Mart?…
Anyhow, the Hartsdale store is clean, large, and very vibrant with much of almost everything. There are also specific aisles for Korean, Chinese, and Japanese-dedicated foods, too. The veggie produce section is wonderful and totally fresh. The meat area has any number of cuts, including many highly unfamiliar with most of us Westerners. I don’t want to buy many meats that aren’t pastured, but I did pick up a small pack of chicken hearts (see above!) and some LA-cut buogi ribs for future reference. The LA-cut ribs are in the freezer — I am thinking sometime late April in getting to them.