For these chicken tsukune (meatballs), I use tofu to bind the ingredients instead of soaked bread or bread crumbs. In Japan it’s common to mix in tofu with other ingredients as it’s more affordable than meat and considered healthier. Since tofu is mild in flavor, it doesn’t affect the taste of a dish. It also gives the meatballs a lovely soft texture and adds moisture to the chicken. I like to eat the meatballs dipped in raw egg yolk, but if you’re worried about eating raw egg, you can try a poached egg.
- In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside.
- Place the tofu on a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside for 10 minutes and gently press to remove excess water.
- Transfer the tofu to a medium bowl. Using your hands, a whisk, or a potato masher, break apart the tofu and mash until finely broken down. The texture should be similar to ground meat.
- Add the ground chicken to the tofu and mix until fully combined and sticky. The mixture should hold together. Add the scallions, potato starch, salt, and pepper. Mix well until fully combined.
- Shape the meatball mixture into large balls (about 3 tablespoons per meatball). If the mixture sticks to your hands, lightly wet your hands with water. Sightly flatten the meatballs to a 1-inch thickness. You should have 14 to 16 meatballs.
- In a large cast-iron pan or nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the meatballs until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate.
- Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel. Add the sweet soy sauce and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until the sauce is thick and syrupy, about 2 minutes. Return the meatballs to the skillet and coat with the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired, and serve immediately.