Teriyaki chicken used to be the only thing I ate at Japanese restaurants. My dad tried to get me to eat sashimi, but as a 7-year-old, raw fish kind of grossed me out. I got over that pretty quickly though and raw fish is now one of my favourite foods. I still, however, hold a soft spot in my heart for chicken teriyaki. Crispy chicken skin, glossy sweet sauce and fluffy white rice – there’s a comfort food meal right there.
The funny thing about teriyaki is: even though you see bottles of teriyaki sauce at grocery stores in the rest of the world, teriyaki sauce is not actually sold pre-made in Japan. “Teriyaki” refers to a cooking method – the word comes from teri, meaning shiny, and yaki, meaning grilled. In essence, because I didn’t grill this chicken, it’s not technically teriyaki. It is, however, super delicious and quite easy. The next time you’ve got a teriyaki chicken craving, give it a try at home – kind of sort of how people in Japan do!
Teriyaki Sauce Recipe
makes about 3/4 cups
- 1/4 cup soy
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1/4 cup sake
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons corn starch, if desired
- 2 tablespoons water, if using cornstarch
Combine the soy, mirin, sake, and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and water (if using) into a slurry and then whisk into sauce. Reduce until desired thickness. Taste and adjust for seasoning if needed.
Teriyaki Chicken Recipe
- 2-4 boneless, skin-on chicken thighs
- teriyaki sauce
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 green onion, sliced
- toasted sesame seeds, if desired
- fluffy white rice or grain of choice
Cook the thighs in a dry pan (the chicken will render out enough fat that you don’t need to add any extra) skin side down, over medium-heat until the skin is brown and crispy, about 15-20 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for 5 minutes and check to make sure the chicken is cooked through. Rest on a cutting board for five minutes, then slice into strips and serve with teriyaki sauce with rice, cucumbers, green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
You can cook the chicken and the sauce in one pan. Cook the thighs, in a dry pan, over medium heat until the skin is brown and crispy, about 15-20 minutes. Drain off any excess fat and then flip the chicken. Add 1 tablespoon each of soy, mirin, sake and sugar to the pan and turn the heat to medium high. The sauce should bubble, boil and thicken. Flip the chicken to coat in sauce. When the sauce has thickened to your liking, remove from the heat and serve.
1. The first method, where you cook the sauce and chicken separately, will result in a crispier chicken.
2. You don’t need to add cornstarch to your teriyaki sauce – it does however, speed up the reduction time and gives you that sort of thick, glossy sauce that most North Americans associate with teriyaki.
3. Teriyaki isn’t a sauce at all. It’s a cooking method: grilled meat that’s been glazed with soy, sake, mirin and sugar.
4. You can substitute white wine for the sake, but sake is readily available at most grocery/liquor stores. Same with mirin – it’s found in the Asian aisle.
PS – If you like this recipe, you can order my cookbook, Easy Gourmet!