Yakiniku – What it is, History, Characteristics and Recipe.
If you’re a fan of grilled bite-sized varieties of meat, straight out of the heat right before your mouth, then you would love discover Yakiniku!
It is common for every local to have their special grilled meat dish prepared and eaten in different forms, however, the Yakinuki barbeque brings with it a unique taste and memories of cohabitation between the Japanese and Koreans Cuisines.
Yakiniku is a Japanese term that generally identifies dishes at “Grilled meat cuisines”. It depicts the Japanese-style of preparing the grilled meat varieties over a charcoal grill or an electric or gas roaster, and to be served with his special sauce.
Interestingly, this style of cuisines offer the dish in preference to the type of meat or fish you would prefer. The dish can be in form of grilled beef, pork, chicken, seafood – squid, shell, fish and shrimp, internal meat varieties (Offal) – beef liver, intestine, heart, pory uterus, crosswise-cut beef tail, beef tripe, pork stomach. It is served with a sauce and comes with its nutritional health benefit for everybody.
Let’s get into the real deal on what Yakiniku is!
What is Yakiniku
The term Yakiniku refers specifically to the Japanese style of grilling bite-sized beef or offal, over charcoal iron grids outdoor, or with gas or electric hot plates indoors. First used in reference to the western barbeque in the 1872 book “Seiyo Ryoritsu”, by Japanese writer Robun Kanagaki, it identifies dishes introduced by the Koreans in Japan.
Although it is believed to be inspired by popular Korean dishes, Bulgogi and Galbi, the process of preparation where the Yakiniku meat is grilled, unseasoned and served with a sauce, is what sets it apart from the other BBQ dishes.
The dish is eaten while grilling the meat, which could be any of the varieties we highlighted earlier over a fire. The term can also be used to refer to dishes prepared in a similar way as the Yakiniku.
The seafood/meat can be grilled simultaneously with vegetables into a whole dish you can call “Yakiniku”. Quite often the type of meat used can depend on the region where a Yakiniku cuisine is situated.
Hence, several grilled meat cuisines can provide their visitors with their preferences aside from beef or offal, such as Vienna sausage, chicken, pork, lamb ( called the Mongolian mutton BBQ, Genghis Khan in Japan) with veggies.
In serving the Yakiniku dish, it is often placed with side dishes such as Korean-styled noodle or rice with a variety of sauces such those from garlic oil, soy, miso and even citrus fruits such as sudachi citrus, lemon, etc.
The sauces are often of two types based on how they are used. One sauce is applied when seasoning or marinade the meat before grilling, and another can be used as a dipping after it has been grilled (the Japanese style).
Origin and History
How Yakiniku originated and its history, has several theories to it, two of which we will be highlighting shortly, as well as the factors that have promoted its popularity across Japan and international cuisines.
The first theory on Yakiniku’s birth was that it became a dish after World War II. Being introduced by Koreans residents in Japan at the time, the aftermath of the war had resulted in food shortage. This had forced the Korean immigrants to make use of the parts of beef and pork entrails discarded by the Japanese, grilling it overheat to feed and making a business out of the remaining.
Stores which sold the grilled meat were called “Horumon-yaki” stalls which in Japanese (Osaka dialect) was “放るもん” (houru mon) which meant “things that were discarded”. The stalls later expanded into using a variety of other animal parts (short ribs, loins).
The second theory, however, faulted the origination of Yakiniku as a post-war dish. It highlighted that the Japanese were fans of grilled meat over an open fire during the Meiji restoration in 1871 (a period when they welcomed western culture to the country). Hence, the grilling of beef innards and pork offal were delicacies even before the prewar days.
There is the knowledge that Korean immigrants in the 1930s brought with them from Seoul to Osaka, their style of grilling beef on a spot similar to their famous dish (Sukiyaki-style bulgogi). This also confirmed the belief that the Yakiniku dish was a prewar dish, however, there’s no denying that the present-day Japanese grilled meat cuisines are replicas of the 1930s Yakiniku restaurants.
After World War II, the practice of Yakiniku dishes between the 1950s to 1960s had begun to spread across Japan from Osaka. However, one of the factors that promoted the dish was the preparation and selling of the Yakiniku sauce (Tsuke-dare, a dipping sauce), which enabled its use as a home dish for families.
The sauce was used to eat the grilled unseasoned meat, this way there was less smoking and burning when preparing the meat.
In 1980, the smokeless roaster introduced by Shinco company in Japan helped spread the adoption of the dish further. With the Yakiniku restaurant environment, being smokeless, more families and visitors became attracted to the cuisines for the dish.
In the 1990s the adoption of the Yakiniku dish grew with the removal of restrictions on the importation of beef in Japan, dropping the price of beef and making the dish available to masses.
An official day was set for the celebration of the dish by the All Japan Yakiniku Association In 1993. This was to be on the 29th of August. Presently, with the smokeless roaster in use, the Japanese style of eating Yakiniku with the grilled sauce, has become widely popular, even in South Korea.
Yakiniku Sauce Recipe
The typical Yakiniku dipping sauce is sweet sesame flavoured as a healthy dipping for thinly sliced pieces of meat (grilled short rib or beef varieties). We referred to the “typical” Yakiniku sauce because with time, people have learned to modify the Japanese BBQ sauce (Yakiniku no Tare, 焼肉のタレ) to their taste without too many changes made.
Hence you will find that the ingredients will slightly differ for different Yakiniky cuisines and families.
For a typical “tare” seasoning of the Yakini sauce, you can identify it by its content of the soy sauce (dark). This sauce is homogenized with the sake, fruit juice, garlic, sugar, mirin and sesame seeds. Often, used in recipes to add colour and taste with its strong aroma, the soy sauce has been a basic ingredient for most Asian recipes.
It is obtained from fermented soybeans mixed with water, salt and wheat flour. The good factor about the ingredient is that it comes in varieties, for people with peculiar health diets such as those in need of low-sodium intakes, or gluten-free meals.
The Yakiniku sauce is also known for its health benefits such as its soy sauce content having potent effects on seasonal allergies (rhinitis) and great if you’re looking to reduce your calories and carbs.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 3 minutes
Total preparation time: 8 minutes
Servings: 2 (⅓ cup)
¼ cup of soy sauce
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons mirin
1 ½ teaspoon ground roasted white sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 ½ tablespoons sugar (granulated)
½ teaspoon of roasted white sesame seeds
Chop the peeled garlic clove into bits. Using a skillet, prepare a mix of the soy sauce, chopped garlic, sesame oil, sugar and mirin.
Heat the mixture with stirring for about 3 minutes using a medium to high heat to enable sugar dissolve while preventing burning.
Set the sauce for 8 minutes to cool.
Pour the sauce into a bowl and filter out the garlic from the sauce using a strainer. Discard the garlic. Pour and mix in the roasted sesame seeds and ground roasted white sesame seeds into the bowl of strained sauce.
Your Yakiniku sauce is ready to be served!
With your grilled meats with vegetables ready, you can have a direct dip of the meats into the sauce or, pour the sauce over the meat.
Quick tip for reuse/storage: The Yakiniku sauce can be prepared ahead of when needed for the week and stored in an airtight container for a week. Also, for family use with kids, the concentration of the sauce flavour can be reduced with a bit of hot water to dilute.
Exclusive recipe for thefoodwonder.com
Nutrients in the Yakiniku sauce dipping (per tablespoon – 17g)
Calories 32 Cal
Fat 1.8g (16.11 Cal)
Carbs 12g (11.8 Cal)
Protein 0.69g (2.76 Cal)
If you happen to visit a Japanese Restaurant or Yakiniku cuisine at any period of the year, remember to fix the visit close to August 29th, the official day for Yakiniku.
However, you choose to have your dish grilled, the Korean style, where the beef is marinated while grilling on a tabletop open-flame grill, or the Japanese style where it is grilled unseasoned and eaten with a Yakiniku sauce, do enjoy!
Also, remember that it can be prepared as a home dish, all you need is the recipe we have outlined and a heat source (gridiron, electric/gas/charcoal roaster) and you’re good to go.
In these days though, will be good and interesting to try different style of Yakiniku Cuisine, Korean Barbeque is one of them and probably more popular in some parts of the world.