After the shio koji finished fermenting, I had a few ideas on how to use it. The initial idea was sausages. I was going around and around trying to find a way to make a sausage with enough simplicity to taste the shio koji which still being interesting enough to want to eat. After filtering through ideas, this sausage was based in the skewered chicken eaten while in Japan.
Yakitori is dead simple – charcoal, chicken parts and seasoning – and, when done well, is incredibly delicious. Of crave-able meats, it is hard to beat chicken and short of the best fried chicken, yakitori and its variety is right up there. Offal, dark meat and skin on sticks is a good recipe for simplicity. When I thought of it, the skin and dark meat served on sticks with giant glasses of beer was one of the most comfortable moments is vacation of boundary pushing experiences and meals.
The first issue I met was the chicken skin. I had no interest in using the uncooked skin in this sausage. Flaccid poultry skin had no roots in yakitori and I thought crumbling crispy roasted chicken skins would be an interesting addition. The next issue was in most chicken sausages, you fight dryness constantly. Chicken is lean and, in my opinion, depending on the grind might be too lean. Given how I planned to render the skins to crisp them, I needed to add fat. I added pork fat cured in shoyu to the grind. Cheating? Yes. Delicious. Yes.
The last challenge was determining how much shio koji to use. After all, this was a pretty unknown ingredient to me and is not exactly sitting in Grigson’s sausage books. I added a tablespoon. Cooked a little and tasted it. Added another teaspoon of shio koji and repeated the process. I was happy with two, so I finished binding the sausages and stuffed them into casings.
Instead of tying them into links, I opted to throw two skewers through the coil and grill it as it stood. This method not only gives more portion flexibility, I think it yields more even cooking results over a grill. The punch of roasted chicken skins combines with the shio koji in a very interesting way. These sausages have intense savory flavors, but there is a subtle sweetness which I picked up earlier in roasted cabbage which was flavored with shio koji. For sausage which is essentially 6 skin-on chicken thighs and a little pork, they do not skimp on flavor.
I wanted a minimalist sausage and based on ingredients, I passed the test. I also wanted to feature the shio koji and I think I should have done better here. The roasted chicken skin flavors were carried by the pork fat with assassin like precision. The shio koji played a smaller role, but still present and appreciated,
Chicken Skin – Shio koji Sausages
500 grams chicken thighs
150 grams cured pork fat
50 grams crisply roasted chicken skin
2 tablespoons shio koji
Note: If you do not have fatty cured pork/bacon to grind, back fat and another 1-2 tablespoons of shio koji will work well. Start with one. Taste and adjust.
Step one: Keepinig bowl extremely cold, grind the pork fat. Then crumble the chicken skin. Then grind the chicken thighs. Chill the ground meat and crumbled skin for a few hours and up to a day.
Step two: Add shio koji to ground meat/crumbled skin and mix the sausage forcemeat until it is bound. Grab a bit, heat it through and taste it. Adjust seasoning with shio koji.
Step three: Stuff into casings or form into patties.