Tsukune is a Japanese-style meatball that is typically cooked yakitori style over live coals and accompanied by a rich dipping sauce. They are most often made with ground chicken thighs for rich flavor. At my parties, however, I have switched to ground turkey—US groceries sometimes won’t even sell ground chicken, let alone ground thighs, and turkey is both readily available and inexpensive. The following recipe finishes the meatballs under the broiler, but they are also marvelous grilled.


  • 1 pound ground turkey

    TOR- Bar Menu Book cover Bar Menu André Darlington
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 1⁄2tablespoons grated onion

  • 1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons mirin

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt 


  • 3 tablespoons tamari

  • 3 tablespoons mirin

  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons sugar 

In a medium-size bowl, combine all the tsukune ingredients thoroughly. Cover and allow to rest in refrigerator for 20 minutes. If using wood skewers, soak in water for 20 minutes. Fill a wide, shallow pan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Form meat mixture into roughly 11⁄2-inch balls and lower into the boiling water. Working in batches if necessary, boil meatballs until cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to an oiled wire rack to drain. Place oven rack in top position and pre-heat broiler. Thread three meatballs to a skewer and arrange skewers on a baking sheet. Brush meatballs with sauce and broil for 3 minutes. Flip meatballs, basting a second time, and broil until beginning to brown, about an additional 3 minutes. Serve immediately with sauce (recipe follows). 

In a small saucepan, bring all sauce ingredients to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes.

Excerpted from BAR MENU: 100+ Drinking Food Recipes for Cocktail Hours at Home by André Darlington. Copyright © 2022. Available from Running Press, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Photo Credit: Neal Santos

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