A common izakaya (pub) bar snack in Japan, tsukune come in all different shapes and sizes. The one common element is the sweet, sticky glaze brushed over the patties as they cook. When following the recipe, try to let the glaze caramelise a little before basting again.
- 12 g (about 3) whole dried shiitake mushrooms
- 600 g chicken thigh mince
- 6 spring onions, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
- 3 tbsp finely sliced shiso leaves (optional; see note), plus extra to serve
- 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1½ tbsp red miso paste (see note)
- 3 tsp sesame seeds, toasted, plus to extra to serve
- 100 ml ponzu sauce (see note) or soy sauce
- salt and white pepper
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) mirin
- 1½ tbsp brown sugar
- baby cos lettuce leaves, to serve
- 4 red radishes, finely shredded
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 20 minutes
Soak 16 bamboo skewers in water for 20 minutes
Using a mircoplane, grate the dried shiitake into a large bowl. Add the chicken mince, spring onion, shiso leaf, ginger, miso paste, sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon ponzu sauce. Season to taste. Using your hands, knead and squash the mince for 4–5 minutes until it becomes thick and sticky. Shape the mixture into 8 x 2 cm-thick oblongs. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 80 ml (⅓ cup) ponzu sauce, mirin and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until reduced to a glaze consistency. Set aside to cool until ready to use.
Preheat a grill or barbecue to high. Slide 2 skewers through the middle of each chicken patty so that the tips meet in the centre creating an ‘A’ shape. Grill the patties for 8–10 minutes, turning frequently and basting every minute or so.
Arrange lettuce leaves on a plate, top with a chicken pattie and drizzle with some of the sauce. Top with radish, extra spring onions and extra sesame seeds.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman Lloyd.
• Ponzu sauce, miso paste and mirin are all available from Japanese food stores and some Asian grocers.
• Shiso leaf, also known as perilla is available from select Asian grocers.