We use a super thick and delicious product from Niigata to see if it will make our chicken super juicy!

If you’ve done much cooking, you may know that marinating chicken in yogurt makes it super juicy and soft. Any kind of plain yogurt will do, so many people just opt for whatever they keep in the house, or whatever is cheapest or easiest to find. But what if you use super high-quality, super thick yogurt? Would that make your chicken even better?

We decided to experiment with Yasuda Yogurt, a drinkable yogurt brand from Niigata Prefecture in north-central Japan. While Niigata is mostly famous for its delicious rice, it’s also known for other foods that are popular souvenirs, including this yogurt, which is super thick and viscous. It’s so dense it’s almost like the consistency of pancake batter. It makes you want to eat it instead of drink it!

But today, we were set on using it to marinate chicken. To have something to compare it to, we also bought Bulgaria Yogurt, which you can find at most grocery stores in Japan. It’s a standard, reasonably priced yogurt that’s not particularly sweet and comes unflavored, so it’s perfect for marinating chicken.

We also bought two packages of chicken thighs to marinate in the yogurt, which we cut into bite-sized pieces.

We prepared two marinades. Each one contained two tablespoons of yogurt and, for flavoring, one tablespoon of miso.

We separated the pieces into two bags to keep the experimental groups separate and added the Yasuda Yogurt marinade to one and the Bulgaria Yogurt marinade to the other. We made sure to label them accordingly, too.

▼ On the left is “Yasuda”, and on the right, “Normal” (aka Bulgaria yogurt).

Once we added the marinade to both bags…

…we massaged the contents to evenly distribute the yogurt and miso.

For the purposes of uniformity, we massaged both experimental groups for three minutes. Normally, you would only really need to mix it until the miso and the yogurt are thoroughly distributed, but we were doing science, and science requires consistency.

Once our three minutes were up, we left them to marinate until the next day, when we put some oil in a pan and fried them up. (Separately, of course.)

Both plates of steaming hot, freshly sauteed chicken looked delicious. The two groups didn’t look any different, but that’s not to say the flavor would be the same. Because we were excited to learn the results of our experiment (and because the chicken looked so good), we made sure to try each one before it got cold.

We started with the chicken marinated in the standard Bulgaria Yogurt. It was definitely soft! It was springy and moist and with every bite, the juices just burst in the mouth. There was no hint of the dryness that cooked chicken is prone to. The miso flavor also came through nicely, making it so delicious we couldn’t help but keep eating it, even though we knew we still had to try the other chicken.

▼ Chicken marinated in Bulgaria Yogurt

Now, what about Yasuda Yogurt? As a drinkable yogurt, it tends to be a bit sweeter than regular yogurt. How would that transfer to the chicken? Feeling slightly nervous, we popped one into our mouth…

Oh. It was very mild! Even though we used the same amount of miso, it was far less salty than the chicken marinated in Bulgaria Yogurt. But that’s not to say that we couldn’t taste the miso flavor; we could actually taste it all the way up in our nasal cavity, along with a faint saltiness. If we were to compare the two, we would have to say that the chicken marinated in Bulgaria Yogurt seemed like it would go great with rice, but this chicken marinated in Yasuda Yogurt was something we could eat all by itself.

▼ Chicken marinated in Yasuda Yogurt

Therefore, we can conclude from this one very scientific trial, that Yasuda Yogurt has the unexpected effect of mellowing the flavors of other ingredients in the marinade. Despite this very minute difference between the two, it was genuinely hard to say which resulted in better chicken. In fact, both were so good that we ate all the chicken in one sitting.

If you want to try your own experiment, you can order Yasuda Yogurt online, so you don’t have to travel to Niigata to get it. But Niigata is worth visiting anyway because they’ve got some cool attractions like Sado Island, which has everything you could want from a trip to Japan on just one island. Plus, they have a really tasty local sweet called amemonaka, so if you can, we highly recommend a weekend in this coastal prefecture!

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