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Recreating the Flavors of Asia’s Street Vendors: Maple and Soy Glazed Chicken Skewers

Street vendors in East Asia are known for their delicious skewered meat cooked over hot coals and basted with a sweet and savory sauce. The combination of bold flavors and quick cooking makes these skewers a favorite. At Milk Street, we’ve adapted this concept for weeknight cooking by using a broiler instead of an open-air grill. The broiler provides controlled heat and still gives the meat a delicious char.

Our recipe for savory-sweet chicken skewers, inspired by Japanese yakitori, is a simple yet flavorful option for a quick meal. We marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, and oil, then use the same mixture as a basting and finishing sauce. To add complexity to the glaze, we incorporate maple syrup instead of traditional sugar. The heat from freshly grated ginger helps balance the sweetness of the soy sauce glaze.

These chicken skewers can be served with rice and a crunchy slaw, or turned into a sandwich or wrap with shredded vegetables and a smear of mayonnaise. For easy cleanup, we recommend lining the baking sheet with foil.

Maple and soy glazed chicken skewers

Start to finish: 40 minutes


  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger OR 3 medium garlic cloves, finely grated OR both
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1½ teaspoons sherry vinegar OR cider vinegar
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, halved lengthwise
  • Sesame seeds, toasted OR thinly sliced scallions OR both


1. Stir together the soy sauce, ginger, and oil. In another bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of this mixture with the maple syrup and vinegar.

2. Toss the chicken with the remaining soy sauce mixture.

3. Heat the broiler with a rack 4 inches from the element. Thread the chicken onto metal skewers and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.

4. Broil the chicken until well browned, about 12 minutes, flipping once.

5. Brush the chicken lightly with the soy-maple mixture and broil until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

6. Brush the chicken with the remaining soy-maple mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

For more recipes and dinner ideas, check out the food section of The Washington Times.

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