Chicken teriyaki 鶏腿肉の照り焼き

japanese cake

Teriyaki 照り焼き was popularized in the U.S. early on as a Japanese dish, probably in the same period “Sukiyaki” was getting popular. It has been incorporated in American home cooking (especially backyard BBQ) and you can buy a bottle of “Teriyaki” sauce (from Kikkoman and others) in any grocery store. I am not sure American-style “Teriyaki” even qualifies as an authentic Japanese dish. Usually, the teriyaki sauce is used as marinade and/or like a BBW sauce for meat. The meat is then grilled. 

The original Japanese cooking technique of “Teriyaki” is braising not really grilling. “Teri” 照り means glossy surface or luster and “Yaki”  焼き means grilled but “Yaki” in Japanese could mean braised as in “Sukiyaki”. So, any dish braised in a sauce (usually soy sauce based with sugar) until the sauce is reduced and thick (due to the sugar content) and coats the surface of the food items is called “Teriyaki” either meat or fish. 

If I am making teriyaki chicken from scratch, I prefer to use thigh meat, deboned but skin on. I butterfly the thickness part to make the entire piece even thickness. I could marinate (mirin and soy sauce or sake and salt) but that is optional. I cook it from the skin side first in a frying pan until the skin is well browned (removing some excess oil by blotting with a paper towel) and cook the other side. In this occasion, I used leftover thigh meat which was salted and grilled (two thighs, that had been grilled in a George Forman’s grill) so I skipped this process. Since the chicken was already cooked I went directly to the “saucing” step.

I then poured in “Teriyaki sauce”* and put the lid on for a few minutes (in this case, I really did not need to cook the chicken further). With the lid off, I turn up the flame and reduced the sauce until it became thick; clinging to the surface of the chicken giving “teri” or luster to the surface. Just to be slightly different, I sprinkled Chinese 5 spices (or Japanese “sansho” 山椒powder) to finish.

*You could use a bottled one but I just use a mixture of soy sauce and mirin (about 1:1).

Since this was made from leftover grilled salted chicken, it took less than 5 minutes to make. This was a sort of cannot-go-wrong type of small dish if not exciting. The cinnamon flavor of the Chinese 5 spices came out rather prominently. If you do not like this, stick to “Sansho” powder.


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