I am pretty sure Teriyaki Chicken is more popular outside Japan than in Japan itself! When made with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce which is super easy and fast to make, you’ll really notice the difference in the strength and depth of flavour because it infuses into the flesh better than bottled Teriyaki Sauce.
As a kid, all I ever wanted in my lunchbox was a peanut butter sandwich and crisps so I could be like the other kids. Instead, my mother used to send me to school with bento boxes and sushi rolls.
As an adult, all I want is for my mother to pack me bento boxes. A step up from the peanut butter sandwiches I usually end up slapping together.
Back when I was a child, Japanese food was not that popular in Australia. In fact, other than Chinese food, ethnic food generally was not widely available. As an adult I think back to those days and just shake my head remembering how I would try to eat my bento box lunches as quickly and discreetly as possible while I looked on enviously at all the other kids with their sandwiches in brown paper bags.
A decade later, bento boxes and Japanese food generally became “all the rage”. One of the first Japanese dishes to catch on in the Western world was Teriyaki chicken. The sweet, salty, thick glossy sauces is a flavour that appeals to kids as well as adults, it’s easy to use and great for outdoor grilling as well as cooking on the stove top.
Over the years, bottled Teriyaki Sauce started to appear in grocery stores. The ironic thing is that they are not made in Japan – in fact, I have never seen a Teriyaki Sauce made in Japan, not ever. I read somewhere once that in Japan, bottled Teriyaki Sauce is manufactured overseas.
Having been brought up with home-made Teriyaki Sauce, I consider it a blasphemy to even think of using bottled Teriyaki sauce! And once you see how simple making your own Teriyaki sauce is, I bet you will never use store bought again.
Though not strictly a 15 minute meal because of the marinating time, the active preparation and cooking time is less than 15 minutes so I’ve included it in that category.
Store bought Teriyaki sauce simply doesn’t compare – and when you read the list of ingredients it’s frightening how many of them you probably don’t recognise!! For the minimal effort it takes to make your own Teriyaki Sauce, it’s truly worth it.
This is a variation of my mother’s recipe. Strictly speaking, Teriyaki Chicken as made the authentic way in Japan is not marinated. This recipe yields a stronger more intense flavour, akin to Western palettes.
- 4 tbsp Teriyaki Sauce Marinade
- 4 chicken thigh fillets, skinless and boneless (about 5oz/150g each)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp Japanese cooking wine (sake)
- 2 tbsp water
- Combine the 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat.
- Bring to boil, then turn heat down and simmer until it reduces by half - it should only take 5 minutes or so. The consistency should be like a light syrup. Keep your eye on it - it will start to thicken suddenly!
- Bring to room temperature before using.
- Combine the Marinade with the chicken and marinate for at least 20 minutes, preferably overnight.
- Remove chicken from Marinade but do not discard the Marinade liquid.
- Heat oil in non stick pan over medium to medium-high heat. You don't want it too hot because otherwise the sugar in the Marinade will burn before the inside is cooked.
- Place the chicken in the pan and cook the first side for around 3 minutes, checking to ensure the skin isn't cooking too quickly. If it is, remove pan from heat and turn the heat down, and add about 2 to 4 tbsp of water to the pan then return to the stovetop. The water slows down the searing process on the skin while still allowing the chicken to cook on the inside.
- Turn chicken over and cook the other side. Just before the chicken is finished cooking, add 2 tbsp of water to the pan and and swirl around and mix with the marinade that has come off the chicken. This will make a dark glossy "sauce". Move the chicken around in the pan to coat with this sauce.
- The Marinade is a strong flavour so you shouldn't need any extra sauce. But if you do want more, add equal parts of Teriyaki Sauce and water to the pan and allow to come to a simmer and let it cook until the desired consistency.
- Serve with rice.
2. The Marinade will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 weeks. You can also freeze it - with or without meat.
3. Prep time excludes marinating time.