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Japanese Happy Mouth Yakitori Sauce

yakitori ribs
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4.44 from 16 votes
Try my recipe for Happy Mouth Yakitori Sauce on grilled chunks of meat the next time you have the gang over for a ball game. It is also great on ribs!

Sauces and Condiments


A bit more than 1 cup, enough for 2 slabs of ribs or 2 small chickens and a whole mess of chicken livers
Servings: 8 2-tablespoon servings


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes


  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh grated ginger plus all the liquid that comes out when you are grating
  • 5 cloves garlic crushed
  • ½ cup soy sauce preferably low sodium
  • ½ cup sake or dry white wine
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite hot pepper sauce more or less to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons corn starch
About the ginger. That's about 1 fat finger perhaps the size of a your thumb. Grate it on the small holes of a box grater. Some of it might shred. That's OK.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Cook. In a 2 quart non-reactive saucepan, mix all the ingredients except the corn starch and gently simmer on medium-low for about 30 minutes.
  • Strain. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into another sauce pan. The chunky stuff has given its all for us and it is now time to discard it like old love letters. Gently press the mush that is left in the strainer against the mesh with a ladle or a spoon to get out all those good juices. Taste the sauce and adjust the honey or hot sauce if you wish. Put it back on a burner on medium-low.
  • Thicken. Put the cornstarch into a coffee cup and add an ounce or two of cold water. With a fork, whisk it so it is thoroughly dissolved and, before it has a chance to separate, dump it into the sauce. The sauce will get milky, thicken considerably, and when it warms up start burbling like lava. Simmer about 10 to 15 minutes or until it gets like motor oil and clarifies a bit.
  • How to use: To replicate the yakitori-ya experience, don’t put meat and veggies on the same skewer because they cook at different rates. Keep everything on the skewer the same and similar in size. To make sure they all turn together and don't spin, use two skewers rather than one.
    Cook the meat or veggies over direct heat, but not extremely hot. One layer of charcoal or medium heat on a gas grill should do it. Leave the lid open and turn the meat often. When the meat is almost done, paint the sauce on. No more than 2 coats are needed. Watch carefully so that the sugar doesn't burn.
    If you don't want to do skewers, you can do chicken or turkey parts, salmon filets or steaks, pork chops, or even ribs.

Nutrition per Serving

Calories: 122kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 854mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 34IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg