At home, teriyaki is one of our “default” dishes. Even when we run out of basics like fresh onion and garlic, there are always bottles of soy sauce, sake and mirin in the pantry. I’d make teriyaki sauce and use it on whatever there is in the freezer. It’s just so versatile. And it transforms whatever it touches.
The traditional way to cook chicken teriyaki is to marinate chicken in the sauce and grill it. My problem with this method is that the alcohol in the sake and mirin does not totally burn off during cooking. I like the rich sweetness of sake and mirin in my chicken but I don’t like the bitter aftertaste of alcohol. It’s different when you drink wine.
So, I cook chicken teriyaki differently. I start by measuring soy sauce, sake and mirin, and boiling the mixture on the stovetop until reduced by half. You will need only a quarter cup for this recipe. Save the rest in a bottle or jar and keep in the fridge. It will stay good for two weeks or so.
I sear chicken thigh fillets, skin side down initially, until fat has been rendered before I flip them over to brown the opposite sides. I pour in the reduced teriyaki sauce and let the chicken cook in it, flipping them often, until the sauce has reduced to a sticky glaze.
Chicken teriyaki with homemade teriyaki sauce
For the teriyaki sauce
- 1 cup soy sauce - (use Japanese soy sauce which is less salty than Chinese)
- 1 cup sake
- 1 cup mirin
To cook chicken teriyaki
- 6 to 10 chicken thigh fillets - preferably skin on, about 700 grams total weight
- ½ teaspoon cooking oil - (only if using skinless chicken fillets)
Make the teriyaki sauce
- In a small sauce pan, mix together all the ingredients for the teriyaki sauce. Heat and bring to a gentle boil.
- Boil the mixture over medium-low heat, uncovered, until reduced by half.
Cook the chicken teriyaki
- Wipe the chicken thigh fillets dry with paper towels.
- Heat a heavy thick-bottomed frying pan.
- If your chicken thigh fillets are skinless, spray or brush the bottom of the pan with oil.
- Lay the chicken thigh fillets in a single layer, skin side down (or smooth side down if using skinless) in the pan. Cook over high heat until lightly browned, about three minutes.
- Flip the chicken fillets over to brown the opposite side, about three minutes.
- Lower the heat to medium and pour a quarter cup cup of teriyaki sauce over the chicken.
- Cook for another four to six minutes, flipping the chicken fillets over often, until the sauce has caramelized and coats the chicken fillets evenly.
To serve the chicken teriyaki
- Move the chicken fillets to a chopping board and cut into strips.
- Pile the chicken teriyaki strips over rice in a bowl or serve the rice on the side.