TRADITIONAL RUMAKI
(Bacon, Chicken Liver, and Water Chestnut Kebabs)

Source: BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: direct
Yield: Makes about 16 rumaki
Advance Preparation: 1 hour for marinating the chicken livers

1 lb. chicken livers (about 16 livers)
1/2 cup soy sauce (Kikkoman's preferred)
1/2 cup rice wine or cream sherry
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 - 4 cloves garlic, peeled and gently crushed with the side of a cleaver
3 slices peeled fresh ginger (each 1/4-inch thick), gently crushed with the side of a cleaver
2 whole star anise
8 drained peeled canned water chestnuts, cut in half lengthwise
8 slices bacon, cut in half crosswise

You'll also need:
About 16 small (6-inch) bamboo skewers
Heavy-duty foil

1. Trim any sinews or bloody or green spots off the chicken livers. Combine the soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and star anise in a nonreactive mixing bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the chicken livers and let them marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 hour.

2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken livers from the marinade and blot them dry with paper towels. Set the marinade aside. Wrap each chicken liver, along with a water chestnut half, in a piece of bacon, securing it with a skewer.

3. Strain the marinade into a nonreactive saucepan over high heat, let it come to a boil, and boil until thick and syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Set up the grill for direct grilling using a three-zone fire and preheat one zone to high and one zone to medium; leave the third zone unlit.

5. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Tear off a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil that is roughly as long as the grill is wide. Fold the piece of aluminum foil in half lengthwise. Place the folded aluminum foil flat on the grate and the edge closest to you so that it covers part of each heat zone. Place the rumaki on the grate so that they are over the high zone but the exposed ends of the skewers are on top of the foil shield. Depending on the size of the grill, you may need to cook the rumaki in batches. Grill the rumaki until the bacon is crisp and the livers are cooked (I like them pink in the center), 2 to 4 minutes per side, basting them with the boiled marinade. To test for doneness, squeeze a rumaki between your thumb and forefinger; it should be gently yielding, not soft and squishy. Or, cut into a rumaki with a paring knife. Only the center should be pink. Be ready to move the rumaki to the medium or cool zone of the grill should the dripping bacon fat cause flare-ups.

6. Transfer the grilled rumaki to a platter and serve at once, preferably with a flamboyant Polynesian drink.

© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort