Japanese Beef Skewers (Kushiyaki) Recipe

Japanese Beef Skewers (Kushiyaki). Hideki Ueha
  • 2 hrs 5 mins
  • Prep: 2 hrs,
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 4 skewers (serves 2-4)
Ratings (10)

In Japanese cuisine, "kushiyaki " refers to all foods that are skewered and grilled. It includes beef, chicken, pork, offal, seafood and vegetables. While less commonly used, the term "kushiyaki-ya" refers to restaurants that specialize in skewered foods.

Kushiyaki and Yakitori

A popular Japanese skewered and grilled dish that Westerners are quite familiar with is yakitori, which means skewered chicken (vegetables and chicken offal) grilled over an open flame. In the West, this term has been adopted to refer to almost anything that is skewered and grilled. Similarly, "yakitori-ya " refers to a Japanese restaurant that specializes in any type of skewered food.

While commonly enjoyed at restaurants, kushiyaki and yakitori can easily be made at home, especially during the summer when grilling is more popular.

This Japanese skewered beef recipe has a bold Asian flavor profile bursting with savory and sweet goodness from its soy sauce-based marinade. The sweetness of these beef skewers is reminiscent of a teriyaki sauce, yet the addition of Japanese sake, ginger, garlic and scallions will remind you that this is not your average thick and sweet teriyaki skewer, but rather a sophisticated Asian beef dish. 

Beef kushiyaki is a great main dish for an intimate family meal or large parties or potlucks. The recipe below can easily be multiplied to accommodate large parties.

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound beef flank steak, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 1 small piece grated ginger (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 to 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (add more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 stalks chopped green onions
  • Bamboo skewers

How to Make It

  1. Soak the bamboo skewers in water for a few hours. Alternatively, metal shish kebob skewers may be used.
  2. Combine sugar, soy sauce, sake, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, oil and green onions in a resealable storage bag or large secure container. Shake or mix the ingredients together and refrigerate.
  3. Slice the beef flank steak into thin 2-inch by 2-inch pieces.
  4. Marinate the sliced beef with the prepared marinade in a resealable storage bag or plastic storage container in the refrigerator. 
  1. For best flavor, marinate the beef at least two hours. Marinating the beef for over four hours or even overnight will result in meat that is overly salty given the potency of the soy sauce in the marinade.
  2. Remove bamboo skewers from water, and skewer several pieces of beef onto the bamboo stick. Discard the marinade after all meat has been skewered. There’s no need to brush additional marinade on the meat while it’s cooking.
  3. Grill the beef kushiyaki on the barbecue over medium to high heat until beef is cooked to desired wellness, about three minutes on each side. Because the meat is thinly sliced, you’ll find that it cooks fairly quickly. Be careful not to overcook or burn the meat, as it will become tough.