My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!

Bento Recipe: Tsukune


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Ever think "Hey, why aren't there any Japanese meatloaf-like recipes?" Well, guess what, here's one! It can be made with chicken or fish, or whatever other ground meat you like. Skewers are optional, especially if you prefer to make bigger meatballs. You can also use a different sauce; I plan to experiment a bit.

Meatloaf onna stickWhat you need:

    For the chicken mixture:

  • 11 oz. ground chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 6 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger root, grated

    For the sauce:

  • 4 tbsp sake
  • 5 tbsp soy
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp water
  • 6" bamboo skewers. If you're going to be cooking on a barbecue or something else that uses fire, soak the skewers in water overnight to keep them from burning.

Mix the first six ingredients in a bowl, then set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

Wet your hands and take tablespoon-sized globs of chicken mixture out of the bowl. Shape them into small meatballs and put them aside on a plate. Rinse and re-wet your hands when the mixture starts to stick to them.

Squeeze the juice from the grated ginger into the boiling water, then discard the pulp.  If you don't have something like a garlic press to squeeze it in, wrap the grated ginger in several layers of cheesecloth, tie it shut, and put that in the boiling water.  Put the chicken balls in the boiling water. Boil them until their color changes and they float, which takes about 8 minutes.  Then take them out and let them drain on paper towels.

Mix the sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar in a saucepan.  Let it come to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Mix the water and cornstarch in another dish, then add that to the sauce mix.  Stir and simmer until it thickens a bit.

Thread the chicken balls on the skewers, 3 or 4 per skewer.  Cook on a medium grill, broiler, or barbecue, keeping the skewers away from the fire.  Cook for 3 minutes, turning every minute or so. When the chicken balls begin to brown, brush them with the sauce and cook for a few more minutes, turning every minute or so.  Repeat twice, by which time you should be about out of sauce.

Note: The first time I made these, I used my George Foreman grill. That turned out not to be my best idea, as it doesn't allow me to specify the setting. It's either on or off, and that's all. "On" was too hot, which leaded to burning the sugar in the sauce, which led to black crunchy bits and difficult-to-clean surfaces. I'll try broiling or simple pan frying next time.