Japanese chicken meatballs (tsukune)

Japanese chicken meatballs (tsukune) by Bent Street Kitchen

I love Japanese food and can happily eat it everyday.  It's tasty without the flavours being overpowering and satisfying without being too filling.

I've had these chicken meatballs or tsukune at various restaurants but have never tried to make them myself until now.   I've had them grilled on skewers or pan-fried like this recipe. I went with the easier option of pan frying and not having to put them on skewers. I got the original recipe from Maori Murota's "Tokyo Cult Recipes" but adjusted it.

These tsukune are great paired with a side of Japanese pasta salad and a cold glass of chardonnay. Nyum!


500 g chicken mince

1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and grated

2 shallots, finely chopped 

1 T and 1 t soy sauce

1 T and 1 t mirin



2 t sesame oil

1 egg

1 t cornflour

grape seed oil, for frying


3 T soy sauce

3 T mirin

2 T sugar

2 T oyster sauce

1 garlic clove


In a small bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients until well combined. Set aside.

Place chicken, ginger and shallots in a large bowl and knead together. Add soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, egg and cornflour and mix well. To taste test, place half a teaspoon of the mince mixture on a microwave-proof plate and cook on high for 30-45 seconds. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Place about a 1 cm depth of oil in a fry pan that would fit all your meatballs. Heat oil to medium heat. Using a tablespoon, scoop a generous tablespoon of mince and use another tablespoon to push the mince off onto the fry pan.  I shape my mince into patties rather than meatballs to help them cook evenly. Cook until browned on one side. Turn over and leave until cooked through. Remove meatballs from the fry pan and put on a plate. Tip out excess oil from the pan.

Put the sauce into the fry pan and turn up the temperature to medium high heat until the sauce thickens, taking care not to burn the sauce. Replace the meatballs and any juices on the plate and coat meatballs with the sauce. Discard garlic. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

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