Lots of delicious things stacked up on a skewer. An easy-to-make umami-packed sauce and some searing heat. That's all you need to master the art of yakitori, or Japanese-style grilling.
The tori in yakitori means chicken (see the recipe), but feel free to invite other proteins to the party (hello, pork belly!) and even a few vegetables (in moderation). Start with whole shishito peppers and shiitakes, work your way through a panoply of chicken parts (thigh, wings, rolled-up nubbins of skin), before moving along to skirt steak and bacon.
The work is all in the prep: Cut the meat into elegant, bite-size pieces and build skewers in advance. Remember to salt everything generously before it goes on the heat.
Every grill master has a secret weapon. Yours is tare, the traditional yakitori sauce that clings to the meat as it cooks with a great balance of sweetness and salt with a little bit of booze (usually mirin or sake).
As with yakitori in general, anything goes. Get in the spirit and customize the tare master recipe with sliced scallions, a spoonful of yuzu kosho or some grated ginger.
If you can't light a grill outside, use a heavy cast-iron grill pan to char the meat and vegetables on the stovetop. All you need now to get the yakitori party started: hungry friends and cold beer.