Asian cookery isn’t one of my strongest areas, so I have a tougher time dissecting flavors. Teriyaki sauce, one of those universal favorites, has always eluded me. The only way I could have it would either be by buying a bottle from the grocery store or having some haute cuisine on a toothpick at the mall. If this sounds familiar, I imagine you’ll be surprised by how simple Chicken Teriyaki can be.
I was originally inspired to try this after seeing some delicious looking Salmon Teriyaki over at Closet Cooking and I was almost shocked by how simple the basic teriyaki sauce was. It almost seemed too easy, but I figured why not just give it a shot. Tasting each component of the sauce individually, I dunno, I still had my doubts. But mixed all together, it was amazing–this was teriyaki! It was shockingly good for something so shockingly easy. Sweet, tangy, salty–it was just that wonderful familiar flavor. I tried to expand on this base sauce with some additional sweeteners and spices–honey, apricot, ginger, garlic–just to keep things interesting.
Technique-wise, I’m sure this was by no means authentic. For instance, I’d picture judicious use of a big wok with minimal dirty dishes, compared to me broiling, boiling, and sautéing. Did I probably do a little more work than I needed? Sure. But it was still done in under 30 minutes and tasted surprisingly authentic, so I’m certainly not complaining. The dish was light, sweet, tangy, and just felt like healthy, summery food.
I’d certainly be happy to hear any feedback on ways to streamline this though–if anything, the success of this dish has reminded me how much I love Asian-styled food and that I need a lot more of it on my dinner plate! I’d served this chicken tossed with various vegetables (use whatever is in season and/or suits your fancy–I cooked them all minimally so they still tasted crisp and fresh) as well as some lo mein noodles, hence htis being my entry in this week’s Presto Pasta Nights.
- Sesame oil
- ~2 lbs chicken thighs
- Teriyaki sauce/marinade
- 1/2 cup soy
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1/2 cup sake
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp apricot preserves
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 1 inch chunk of ginger
- 8 oz lo mein noodles
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 can baby corn
- 1/4 lb sugarsnaps
- few scallions
- Optional: sesame seeds
The first step is to prepare the marinade (which will ultimately become your sauce). This is quite simple, but is something you should prepare several hours in advance so that you can give the chicken ample time to marinate in it.
Begin by finely mincing up the garlic and ginger and briefly (under a minute) sauté them in a dab of sesame oil. Then, simply mix in the remaining marinade ingredients, simmering and stirring until all of the sweeteners are dissolved and incorporated into the liquid.
Set this aside to cool down for a bit. While you wait, trim and chop up the chicken to bite-sized pieces, and once the marinade is no longer warm, put all of the chicken in the marinade, seal it up, and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.
When its around the time you’d like to start cooking, take the chicken out of the fridge and strew the pieces of chicken about in a very lightly oiled roasting pan (in a single layer), reserving the marinade in a saucepan. Let this sit so the chicken can warm up a bit while you do the rest of your prep.
Speaking of prep, its delightfully easy. Julienne (long thin strips) the pepper, pull off that little strip on the inner-edge of the sugarsnaps (or just sliver it off with a paring knife), snip the scallions, and hardest of all: open the can of baby corn, dumping off the liquid. Also, get the broiler cranking at 450°F and two pots of water boiling (one for veggies, one for noodles).
Put the pan of chicken pieces under the broiler for 15-20 minutes, turning the pieces once during the middle. The goal now is to finish everything else before the chicken comes out of the oven so it can all be hot and ready to go at the same time. The chicken should come out with a nice, crisp, tacky, somewhat glazed exterior.
So as for everything else: get that saucepan of marinade warmed up over medium-high heat. After all, it had raw meat in there. As it begins to really get bubbling, you can start skimming the scum off of the surface with a spoon–it takes away from the clarity of your sauce and will leave a greasier mouthfeel than you’d like. Drop the heat to a slower simmer though after a few minutes though as you do want some sauce to remain (the amount I listed won’t yield extra)! Figure 10-15 minutes total on the heat. If you do suspect you cooked too much off, you can always mix in equal amounts of sake, mirin, and soy sauce later on as a quick fix.
Meanwhile, you should also cook the veggies. I sautéed the pepper, but feel free to cook this however you please (boiled, broiled, roasted, raw). Boil the baby corn for about a minute or two and set them aside. Follow this up with the sugarsnaps for about 2-3 minutes. Finally, boil the noodles per the package directions–for me, this meant boiling for about 3 minutes. Time flies!
Due to your amazing time management skills, everything is done at the same time. So with the noodles drained, in a large bowl, simply toss the chicken and veggies with the noodles, pouring in the sauce and tossing until everything is uniformly coated. This will allow every component to maintain its own flavor while also having a consistent taste of teriyaki accentuating each item.
Once everything is well mixed, plate to your liking and top it off with a few chopped scallions and maybe some briefly toasted (in a dry pan) sesame seeds. Enjoy!