The secret of teriyaki dishes


Chicken teriyaki and similar dishes are a staple in Japanese-style restaurants around the world. They offer American diners a simpler option as opposed to sushi and more authentic dishes. It has become the go-to Asian dish for people with picky palettes.

Although rich and full of flavor, teriyaki dishes are actually simple and easy to cook. They only require protein and marinade. They can be served over white rice with a sautéed vegetable on the side, a generally healthy meal. For this reason, teriyaki should become a staple for students around the world.

History of teriyaki:

Despite its association with Japanese cuisine, Teriyaki is about as inauthentic as it gets. The name actually refers to the cooking method instead of the dish itself. “Teri” means glazed or bright, as in the appearance of sweet sauce. “Yaki” means toasted or grilled, as in the method of applying heat.

The origins of the dish are not clear, as is the case with most Asian-American dishes. The popular conception is that the dish was developed by the Japanese who immigrated to Hawaii in the 1960s. There, they mixed ingredients from Japan, such as soy sauce, with native Hawaiian ingredients, such as brown sugar and pineapple juice. This fusion of cultures created teriyaki sauce.

There is no such thing as an “authentic” version of teriyaki sauce. Sugar and soy sauce have been mixed since time immemorial, and the sweet and savory flavors blend perfectly. It can be assumed that the sauce developed independently in Asian-American restaurants over time due to these facts. Hawaii is considered a possible place of origin due to the number of Americans of Japanese descent who live there.

Make the sauce

Basic (“traditional”) teriyaki sauce

This is a basic recipe that can be found posted in various online forums. It’s a combination of soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, and a thickener like cornstarch.

Sake and mirin are “rice wines” made from the fermentation of, you guessed it, rice. Sake is a dry wine and mirin is a sweet wine. When cooking, sugar can replace mirin if you only have sake. You can also rule out sugar in favor of more mirin, although a thickening agent will need to be added instead of sugar.

Normally, sugar acts as the main thickener in a Teriyaki sauce. All the ingredients are mixed and boiled until the sugar thickens the sauce, creating a reduction. Thicken the sauce in this way has the potential to make it too sweet for some. Adding cornstarch allows the sauce to thicken, without reducing it too much, thus avoiding excess sweetness.

Note: A common rule of thumb when buying wine or beer for cooking is: if you don’t drink it pure, don’t cook with it.


2 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoons of sake

2 tablespoons of mirin

2 tablespoons of sugar (to change according to the preferred sweetness)

1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a porridge with water

Water to be diluted to the desired thickness


  1. Combine all the ingredients except the cornstarch-porridge in a saucepan. Put on low heat and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch and whisk furiously until thickened.
  2. If desired, leave out the cornstarch and simmer the sauce until it reduces, allowing the sugar to thicken it instead. This will create a stronger sauce with a syrup-like consistency.

Renegade teriyaki sauce (developed after alcohol consumption)

This teriyaki sauce is about as inauthentic as it gets, but it’s packed with flavor. Some combinations may look weird, but trust me, it works.


2 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoons of a pilsner beer (like Miller High Life)

2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon of filtered water

½ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

½ teaspoon of chili paste

1 clove of grated garlic

½ teaspoon of grated ginger

1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a porridge with water

1 teaspoon of neutral oil (vegetable or canola)


  1. Sauté the ginger and garlic in neutral oil in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Add all the wet ingredients except the cornstarch to the pot. Bring to a boil over low heat.
  3. Add the cornstarch and whisk furiously until thickened.

Note: Do not cook this recipe without the cornstarch. It doesn’t cut as closely as the previous recipe.

The meal

Now that you have the teriyaki sauce, you are ready to cook a variety of dishes. Teriyaki sauce goes well with anything, so feel free to experiment.

The main use of teriyaki sauce is to soak meat after frying or grilling it. However, you can also use it as a marinade before grilling. The sugar and salt will wait for the protein and moisten it, making it tender and sweet. Burgers dipped in teriyaki sauce before grilling are excellent. Also, feel free to use teriyaki sauce as a dip.

Teriyaki chicken

By far the most common dish that uses teriyaki sauce. The “traditional” chicken teriyaki fry the meat with salt before being dipped in the sauce. Many restaurants cut the process in half, instead using teriyaki sauce as a marinade. These methods do not provide the same crunch and flavor as the original method, which should be preferred.


2 on the skin chicken thighs (boneless)

Teriyaki sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Note: In general, any boneless dark meat from chicken can be used in this process. White meat can also be used, but it is recommended to marinate and flour the outside first. Indeed, white meat dries up very quickly compared to dark meat.


  1. Take the salt and pepper and coat the outside of the chicken thighs. Place the thighs in the refrigerator. This step involves drying the outside of the meat to make it more evenly crisp.
  2. On a cold pan, place the chicken thighs skin side down. Turn the pan over medium heat. The fat from the skin should melt, provide cooking oil and make the meat crispy. Flip once one side is golden to brown the other side.
  3. Once both sides are golden, continue to flip until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. About 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and dip it in the teriyaki sauce. Slice the chicken before serving on a bed of rice.

Fun fact: The melted chicken fat is called “schmaltz,” a word taken from Jewish cuisine.

Tofu Teriyaki

The sweetness of the tofu really lets the richness of the teriyaki sauce taste. It’s a great vegan option.


1 block of extra firm tofu, sliced ​​into 1-inch slices (pressed water)

Teriyaki sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of neutral oil (vegetable or canola oil)


  1. Season with salt and pepper and coat the outside of the tofu patties. Let sit for at least 20 minutes.
  2. In a skillet, preheat the oil over high heat.
  3. Add the tofu and cook until one side is golden brown. Turn over and brown the other side.
  4. Remove the pan, dip in the teriyaki sauce and serve over rice.

Sautéed vegetables

Leftover chicken fat makes a great frying oil for any veg you might have around the house. It is an excellent accompaniment to add to your proteins and your rice.


Broccoli, cabbage, green pepper, squash or any vegetable that resists frying well

Soy sauce to taste

1 clove of grated garlic


  1. Heat leftover chicken fat over high heat until barely smoking.
  2. Immediately add the vegetables, turning them quickly until the desired tenderness.
  3. Add soy sauce and garlic and cook for 30 seconds before serving.

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