Teriyaki, that yummy Japanese dish with its addictive sweetness and umami savouriness, is an easy addition to any student’s repertoire. Quick to make and requiring only a few store cupboard ingredients, it is the perfect solitary supper or dinner for friends. Make it with different meats, use vegetables, or even make it with tofu – teriyaki is as versatile as it is easy to make. A must, however, is the perfectly cooked white rice that is to be served alongside it.
The name teriyaki refers to the cooking technique used for the dish: it derives from the noun teri, which refers to the shine given by the sugar content in the tare (the sauce), and yaki, which refers to the cooking method of grilling or broiling. The popular dish was originally created by Japanese cooks during the seventeenth century, however, Japanese immigrants turned it into the dish we know and love in the West today. The bottles of teriyaki sauce available in modern supermarkets, tooth-achingly sweet and the consistency of tar, are a development of the traditional dish – it is said that Japanese immigrants who settled in Hawaii created a distinctive marinade using local products like pineapple juice. This quick, homemade version of teriyaki sauce is much better – it has bags of flavour and is the work of mere lazy moments.
Easy Chicken Teriyaki (Serves 4-6)
2 tbsp sake (Japanese rice wine)
4 tbsp mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
750 grams chicken, chopped into bite-size pieces (breast or thigh)
1 teaspoon oil
1. Mix together the sake, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and ginger in a dish that will be able to hold the chicken pieces.
2. Add the chicken pieces and leave to marinade for 15 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the pan and sauté until the exterior is cooked.
4. Pour the marinade over the chicken, bring to a gentle simmer, and then cook for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through.
5. Remove the cooked chicken pieces from the pan with a slotted spoon and reduce the sauce on a higher heat – you want a thick, syrupy consistency.
6. Return the chicken to the pan to coat it in the sauce, and then serve!