Teriyaki chicken is a dish that’s so popular that you see it being cooked in homes and restaurants that are even non-Japanese. Your country might even have frozen teriyaki chicken products that you can instantly cook.
But did you know that even the homemade version of this Japanese recipe is so easy to cook? So if you’re looking for a quick recipe for a rice meal or something to spice up your sandwiches, it’s time to cook teriyaki chicken!
In the land of the rising sun, the term teriyaki typically means a style of cooking. When attached to another word, it is either a dish or sauce glazed on the food.
Teriyaki consists of two words. First is teri (照り), which means luster. It’s the sauce that gives the dish its shine. The second is (焼き), which can either mean grill or pan-fry. Combine teriyaki with chicken, and you’ll get “shiny fried chicken,” describing the glossy effect created by the sauce on the meat.
Traditionally, its tare (タレ) or sauce is a mixture of soy sauce, cooking sake, mirin, and sugar (or even honey in non-traditional recipes). While it’s typical to cook the teriyaki sauce with meat, it is also being used with meat patties to create burgers and stir-fry vegetables.
A traditional teriyaki sauce offers a mix of salty umami coming from the soy sauce and a sweet, tangy flavor from the mirin, a version of sake that is sweet and has low alcohol content.
But if it's a non-traditional teriyaki, you'll taste flavors from ginger, citrus, sesame, and garlic.
Chicken thigh is the best cut for your teriyaki dish.
The Japanese would normally recommend deboned chicken thighs with the skin on. This part doesn’t dry out fast. Additionally, this part keeps its juiciness and tenderness as you cook your dish.
The purpose of having the skin is to have a protective layer between the flesh and the cooking pan. With the skin on, the teriyaki sauce gets easily absorbed into the meat. The result is juicy meat full of flavor.
In some recipes, the thighs are cut into bite-sized pieces before cooking. Others do it before serving the teriyaki. It’s a matter of preference.
There is no harm in using chicken breasts. But do note that in a traditional sense, the Japanese don’t use it.
Since the breast is thick, lean meat, it is prone to drying out. Experts suggest barely cooking it separately with the sauce. Once the sauce is made, place the chicken breast back to glaze it with the teriyaki sauce.
Add some greens to your teriyaki chicken to create a healthy meal.
Depending on how your dish is created, teriyaki chicken isn't the healthiest option. It may include a lot of protein but also a lot of calories, sodium, and fat.
The reason why we advise consuming this in moderation is because a tablespoon of teriyaki sauce can have as much as 690 mg of salt. Remember that excess sodium intake can cause high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Additionally, it has been discovered that having too much sodium harms the liver and kidneys.
In the same quantity, it can have about 2 grams of sugar. Too much sugar consumption can result in heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
To make it a healthy dish, add healthier ingredients by pairing it with nutrient-rich veggies such as green beans and broccoli.
The thing is, it’s not hard to achieve authentic-flavored teriyaki chicken. As long as you stick to the cooking sake, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar, you will surely get the Japanese-style teriyaki chicken.
You’ll probably see other people who add ingredients such as garlic, ginger, brown sugar, honey, sesame oil, fruit juices, and rice vinegar. Now, these are okay if you want to add a twist to your dish. But if you want the traditional flavor, don’t add any of these.
There are people who add starch in an effort to thicken the sauce. But the truth is, you don’t need it. As the two types of cooking wine evaporate, the sauce will be left with thick sugar, which will then caramelize as you fry the chicken.
Remember that teriyaki is a cooking method. Naturally, the sauce can still be used for different kinds of protein. Feel free to use beef or salmon. If you’re vegan, why not give teriyaki tofu a try?
Just remember that the thickness of your protein will impact the cooking time of your teriyaki dish. The most important thing is to glaze your meat with the sauce.
No, you don’t need one. You can fry your chicken in a pan. Just make sure that the skin side is cooked evenly before flipping it.
Place your leftovers in an airtight container. Put them in the fridge and consume them within three to four days.
Traditionally, Japanese people don’t marinate their teriyaki chicken. As you can see from the recipe, the sauce is created on the spot.
You can easily let the chicken absorb the flavor of the teriyaki sauce by pricking the pieces to release the oil. Furthermore, you can spoon the sauce and pour it over the chicken as you cook your dish.
Ready to pair your homemade Teriyaki with some Japanese otsumami? Try our Japanese snack box, which includes some of Japan's best snacks, every month!