Beef yakitori snacks

I had a couple of people round for a catch up (over drinks of course).

I was trying to think of something quick and I easy I could feed them between martini drinking when I came across some beef mince on special offer at the supermarket.

I bought a kilogram and decided to make yakitori, a type of Japanese skewer kebab, inspired by izakaya/yakitori-bar type food.

I made the following recipe:


  • Soak several bamboo skewers in water overnight.
  • Peel and finely chop a thumb-sized piece of ginger and add it to a large bowl.
  • Finely chop 8 spring onions and add them to the bowl.
  • I added a splodge of garlic paste.
  • I then added 4 eggs and stirred them lightly with a fork to break them up.
  • I then added a tablespoon of plain flour and a teaspoon of cornflour.
  • Next, I tipped in the mince and mixed it all up with my hands.  This is both a hugely satisfying task but also horrifically messy.  Thoroughly wash your hands both before and after.


  • I made the mince mixture into little balls, around 3.5cm in diameter.


  • I then threaded them onto the bamboo skewers. I put three on each but this will depend on the size of your skewers.


I then mixed a glaze:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp mirin
  • 2 tsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp vinegar from the pickled ginger jar (balsamic or even ordinary vinegar would be fine as well I’m sure)
  • A dash or Worcestershire sauce
  • Stir in the ingredients in a bowl then microwave for 20 seconds.
  • I then put the grill on 200 degrees C and threw in the yakitori for about 8 minutes.


  • Remove the yakitori from the grill.
  • Use a pastry brush to coat the top layer with the glaze.
  • Gently turn the yakitori over so that the less-cooked side is facing upwards.
  • Coat the newly exposed sides and put back into the oven for about 8 more minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

I served them immediately with a simple dipping sauce (2 parts soy sauce 1 part rice vinegar).

You can sprinkle over some more chopped spring onions if you can be bothered. It adds a nice contrasting colour.

Otherwise best consumed when tipsy. It would go particularly nicely with a Pickled Ginger Martini.

    The Laura Santtini Umami Martini

    Laura Santtini is a London-based chef with a recipe book that changed the way I looked at food. She describes herself as the genetic equivalent of a Molotov cocktail: half Italian, quarter Persian, pinch of Sephardic and then an English-Irish mix. Her recipe book is full of things you can prepare in a matter of minutes (ie before your friends get to your home via the tube after work) yet you can present them with a simplistic yet explosive flair that says “oh it’s just something I threw together before you got here” but looks and tastes like restaurant quality cuisine.

    Laura Santtini’s book “Flash Cooking” gave me the confidence to entertain guests at home. Which has had a profound impact on this blog, because it means I can give people martinis, then serve them dinner when they are no longer able to use their legs to walk to a restaurant. Well done Laura, and thank you.

    Ms. Santtini has also produced a very fine condiment: Taste 5 Umami Paste. I usually rub it on food items to marinade them, although one of my friends likes to just eat the stuff for the flavour itself. Praise indeed.

    Having previously added Worcestershire Sauce to a martini for a taste of salty umami I thought I might try the same with the Taste 5 Umami paste, not least as an experiment that my aforementioned friend might like. I took a pea-sized globule of the paste and muddled it into a measure of vermouth, then topped it up with gin and stirred.

    I didn’t use a garnish this time round but I could suggest the following as good pairings for the umami flavour:

    A twist of lemon
    An olive stuffed with garlic
    An olive stuffed with anchovy (for double, nay triple umami)
    A sprig of Rosemary
    A slice of cucumber

    Disclaimer: the following photograph contains no martini.

    Be sure to rub the sauce on some meat or fish to marinade before you fry it.

    This post is self-indulgent

    I don’t actually like the word ‘nibbles’. It sounds frightfully bourgeois. Nonetheless, it’s nice to have something to eat to accompany a martini, especially if it’s been a long day and you’re waiting for dinner. Here are some past examples.

    The root of all evil: carbs, fat and cheese flavouring, deep-fried.

    Langoustine with roe.

    Olives, of course.


    You can’t go wrong with nuts.

    Even radishes.

    Grilled lobster for special occasions.

    This is some seared beef I made with a creamy sauce.

    More seared beef, with cucumber and a wasabi-yoghurt dressing.

    Crisps: more evil.

    Dad’s koi carp from the pond? No I’m just kidding. They’re practically my siblings.

    Grilled salmon skin with a sweet soy glaze.

    More olives, Nocellara this time.

    Bombay mix, peanuts and frozen blueberries.

    Wasabi peas.


    It’s an unusual looking tropical fruit with sweet, white flesh.

    Look how cute they look.

    Croustades with lumpfish roe and dill.

    Sashimi with daikon relish and pickled ginger.

    Rolled spinach with miso and sesame sauce.

    Dry and desirable: like my character, but not like my liver.

    Pate and chives on oatcakes, with lots of olives.

    Japanese ‘izakaya’ styled spring onions.

    Whatever you serve, it should compliment the martini.

    But don’t get so drunk you forget about the real food cooking in the oven.