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Grilled Doves Teriyaki

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Teriyaki is one of the most beloved flavors in the American hunting world, and there is a reason: It is sweet, salty and flavorful all at the same time, and the caramelization you get on something grilled with teriyaki sauce is wonderful.

My version of teriyaki dove is taken from traditional Japanese teriyaki, which is most often done with chicken. You marinate the doves (or squab or pigeon, if you are not a hunter) in the sauce, reduce the sauce to a glaze, then grill the birds, basting with the sauce.

I add a little extra zip with some sesame oil and black sesame seeds at the end. Sesame oil is easy to find, but the black sesame seeds could be challenging; you can get them in Asian markets. Leave them out or use regular sesame seeds if you’d like.

This recipe can be doubled or halved.

Serves 4.

  • 12 doves, 8 squab or 4 pigeons
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup mirin, a Japanese sweet wine
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sugar
  • About 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil to coat doves
  • Black sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Mix the sake, mirin, soy sauce and sugar in a pot. Heat just to the point where the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and let cool. Submerge the birds in the marinade — breast side down — for up to 24 hours and at least 4 hours. About 30 minutes before you plant to cook, take your birds out and let them come to room temperature.
  2. Put the marinade in a small pot and boil it down until it gets syrupy. Keep warm.
  3. Get your grill nice and hot. Scrape down the grates and close the lid. Wet a paper towel with the vegetable oil and, using tongs, wipe down the grill grates. Put the birds breast side up on the grill, close the lid and cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes. Up this to 5-6 minutes for pigeon or squab.
  4. Open the lid and paint the doves with the reduced marinade. Turn them on their sides and paint the exposed side. Grill over high heat (with the cover open) that way for another 1-2 minutes, or until the sides are nicely grilled. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Finally, turn the doves breast side down on the grill and paint the tops. Grill for another 2-3 minutes (cover open), or until the skin is browned.
  6. Remove from heat, paint one more time with the marinade, and let cool for 5 minutes. To serve, drizzle a little sesame oil over the birds and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.

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