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Pheasant Yakitori skewers

Pheasant is a great substitute for chicken in this Japanese-inspired dish from Cai Ap Bryn, with the meat marinated overnight for a deep flavour. Serves two to three.

Pheasant Yakitori Skewers

Pheasant Yakitori skewers

Marinade time: 24 hours Cooking time: 15 minutes


  • 4 pheasant breasts
  • 100ml soy sauce
  • 100ml mirin
  • 25ml water
  • 2 tbsp Sake
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • Pinch of sesame seeds to finish


  1. In a pan, add all the spices and the liquids (soy sauce, mirin, water, sake, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic and sugar), as well as one sliced spring onion. Place on a medium heat for 10 minutes to infuse.
  2. Cut your pheasant breast into ½in pieces and place in a bowl. Remove the pan of marinade from the hob and, once cooled, pour it over the pheasant and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
  3. If you are using wooden skewers, wet them for 15 minutes before skewering on your pheasant pieces. At this point, if you have chosen to serve rice with your skewers, put it on to cook now (unless it’s quick microwave rice).
  4. Place your skewers on a medium heat barbecue or grill. Take any remaining marinade and return it to a small pan to cook down on a medium to high heat for 5 minutes. Once simmering, spoon or brush the reduced marinade over the pheasant to give it a lovely glaze. Repeat this before the end. Your skewers should be caramelised and have an internal temperature of 75°C.
  5. Plate up with the rice and serve with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and chopped spring onions.

More on pheasant Yakitori

Post-shooting season, I tend to have a lot of pheasant vacuum-packed in my freezer. It’s an excellent substitute to chicken and can also be a cheaper option if you can perform the plucking and preparation process yourself. When the weather starts to warm up I tend to do a lot of grill recipes, and with pheasant it would be hard to beat a tasty set of skewers straight from the barbecue. In particular, these delicious yakitori pheasant skewers should be on the top of everyone’s barbecue list this summer. Of course, there are lots and lots of different marinades to experiment with, and honestly this is all part of the fun. Quite often I go through a jerk pheasant phase as I absolutely love the strong, spicy flavours. Mixing that with rice and peas makes for a very wholesome meal. (Read more bbq tips for game.)

However, recently I have been experimenting a lot with Asian flavours, especially Chinese and Japanese. One delicious type of marinade is the yakitori. ‘Yakitori’ simply means ‘grilled bird’, and although the most common choice is chicken, a well-marinated pheasant works a treat. The trick is to marinade it overnight so the flavours penetrate in deeply and keep the pheasant pieces juicy.

This is an excellent recipe to use up some birds from the freezer and provide a good barbecue option — or even a canapé.

For this dish I use the breasts only; legs are kept aside for making stock, slow cooking or even minced to make burgers, sausages or minced skewers. Minced pheasant with a little pork also makes excellent kofta-style kebabs once you add the right spices.