Soy adds saltiness along with a deep color to these skewers; the glaze would also be great on short ribs.


  1. For the sprinkle:
    • 2 tablespoons toasted white and/or black sesame seeds
    • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
    • 1 teaspoon Aleppo-style pepper or other mild red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
    • Kosher salt
  2. For the chicken and assembly:
    • 1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
    • 1/3 cup soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
    • 1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
    • Vegetable oil (for grill)
    • Kosher salt
  3. Special Equipment
    • 8 (8–12-inch-long) metal skewers


  1. Make the sesame-citrus sprinkle:
    1. Mix sesame seeds, chives, Aleppo-style pepper, and lemon zest in a small bowl to combine; season with salt.
  2. Make the chicken kebabs:
    1. Combine brown sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and vinegar in a small saucepan. Transfer 1/4 cup mixture to a large resealable plastic bag. Working one at a time, slice chicken thighs in half lengthwise. Add to bag with marinade and massage marinade into chicken. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.
    2. Meanwhile, bring remaining marinade to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until reduced by half and slightly thickened (just shy of syrupy), 8–10 minutes. Remove glaze from heat.
    3. Prepare a grill for medium-high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side of grill; for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off). Oil grates. Thread chicken onto 6–8 skewers, folding and piling onto itself to form a compact shape. Season lightly with salt and grill over direct heat, turning every minute or so, until browned and beginning to char in spots, about 4 minutes. Move to cooler side of grill and continue to grill, basting lightly with glaze and turning every 30 seconds or so, until cooked through and coated with glaze, about 5 minutes longer. Serve chicken topped with sesame-citrus sprinkle.
  3. Do Ahead
    1. Glaze can be made 12 hours ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.


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