Chicken Teriyaki

My husband, thanks to me, has quite a developed palate, considering how he was cooked for growing up. He loves Indian food, he loves Ethiopian food, he loves most Mediterranean cuisines, minus the olives and capers, and he absolutely loves dim sum.

However, there’s no dim sum or Indian restaurant where we live. So when we go out, it’s more for me to get out of the kitchen, and much less about either of us having a great food experience. (Sometimes our experiences are downright comical.)

But I admit he seriously sacrifices himself when we go to this local Japanese restaurant.

The restaurant has the most beautiful salad, called the avocado ball salad with a crabmeat filling. It’s divine; I could have it every day. It’s really the main reason I ever want to have lunch at this specific restaurant, although their sushi and sashimi are also outstanding.

However, all my husband orders off of their menu is chicken teriyaki, and it’s not good.

One day I received a email, sharing her Chicken Teriyaki recipe, and it dawned on me that I’d never made it at home before. Chicken Teriyaki was something I learned early on, was grossly over-sweet. I think I figured that out when I purchased a bottle of teriyaki sauce. Horrible stuff.

So I decided to test out Nigella’s recipe, even though she made it abundantly clear that there is sugar in it.

From Nigella: “I know the world is full of good parents who never give their children food with salt or sugar, and this recipe proves conclusively that I am not one of them and, on top of these dietary failings, the following also contains alcohol!”

Here’s her recipe:

Chicken Teriyaki
printable recipe below

2 tablespoons sake
4 tablespoons mirin
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
Splash of sesame oil
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
Sushi rice

In a glass baking dish, combine the sake, mirin, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and sesame oil. Stir well.

Add the chicken pieces and let them marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a braiser. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the chicken out of the marinade, and let it cook until browned on all sides.

Pour in the marinade, and cook the chicken for five minutes longer. Remove the chicken with the slotted spoon to a serving bowl, loosely covered with foil to keep the chicken warm.

Lower the heat and reduce the marinade until thick and syrupy. Pour over the chicken, toss gently, and serve, with cooked sushi rice.

It’s a wonderful recipe, and of course my husband thought it was a thousand times better than what he orders locally.

I served the teriyaki with some chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

I looked at my Japanese cookbook just to see what an authentic chicken teriyaki recipe included, and I discovered something unexpected.

Teriyaki sauce is made up of mirin, soy sauce, and chicken stock. To turn it into a teriyaki glaze, sugar is added – 1 tablespoon of sugar for every 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce.

That’s actually pretty sweet, which is why, obviously, teriyaki becomes such a syrupy glaze. Also, to serve the chicken, the recipe says to “spoon a little of the glaze over each serving.”

So maybe it’s not just the sweetness that can be overpowering, but also the volume of teriyaki glaze on the chicken in Americanized Japanese restaurants.

But in any case, if you dislike chicken teriyaki at your local Japanese-American restaurant, do try this recipe. My husband said, “It’s wonderful.”

And now I’ll probably never get him back to the Japanese restaurant so I can have my avocado ball salad…


70 thoughts on “Chicken Teriyaki

    • Way too artistic for me! Their creativity is overwhelming to me! Especially with the sushi platters.

  • Well done and a great explanation of how the real Teriyaki sauce is made. We’ve been using NL’s Teriyaki recipe since 2010 when her Nigella’s Kitchen cookbook came out. We like to grill the chicken on the barby and serve it as a rice bowl with lots of stir fried veggies. Works very well with Salmon too.

  • Bottle teriyaki sauce UGH! I grew up with teriyaki everything (beef, chicken, fish) but the first dish that popped up in my head was teriyaki spam musubi. In Hawaii spam is king. It must be in our DNA or something :)

  • Look’s Delicious! And I have to say that I have never seen an Avocado Ball before. Looks crazy good!

  • I’ve never made it either, Mimi! Thanks for sharing your recipe – I’m sure we will be making this in the next week or so, as we love quick stirfry recipes like this!

    • It’s definitely easy like a stir fry, but a nice change to hoisin sauce, which is what I often use in stir fries.

  • I laughed when you said that going out for a meal was more about you getting out of the kitchen than the food experience. I totally understand. In our town we have on very good restaurant but all the other places to eat a pubs, cafes, bad Indian, one bad Chinese restaurant and one not to bad Chinese restaurant. One little cafe is run by an Italian family – the decor never changes, the menu hasn’t changed in 40 years (no kidding) but we still go there because there is not much else! So, in saying that, I’m going to bookmark your recipe because we can do with more good recipes in our house! Thanks for sharing!

    • And I say that I want to get out of the kitchen but often I’m the one who changes my mind and we just stay home! There’s not much in this town, and I’m patient with decor, and even with bad service, which is to be expected, sadly.

  • Your version looks very interesting! We all love teriyaki in my family and I make it with three ingredients, mirin, soya sauce and brown sugar. Perhaps I will try adding some peanut butter too!

  • Haha! You better be careful making delicious meals at home…you’ll never get to go back for that avocado bowl again! I agree that homemade teriyaki beats the socks off of the storebought stuff. Thanks for the tips and tricks!

    • I’ve actually gone back by myself. Yes, I have friends, but this was on a whim. It’s so damn good!

  • The chicken teriyaki looks great, and it doesn’t appear there is too much sugar in it at all. That avocado ball looks crazy good! You’ll just have to sneak off and order it for yourself some day. :)

  • Hi Mimi, the glaze is essential because that is what Teri means. You are so right making your own marinade/sauce is so much better than store-bought. I use less sugar than in most recipes, or no added sugar at all because mirin already contains sugar. But it does help to make it more syrupy. I use thighs and take the meat out while reducing the sauce, and then baste the meat with the glaze at the end.

  • I don’t actually know anyone who wouldn’t love this recipe, Mimi. Although I live in Southern California where ethnic food options are limitless, I really value being able to replicate some of my favorites in my own kitchen, where I can verify the ingredients and portions are perhaps a little more healthy. All too often I suspect the restaurants are using a lot more oil than I really need. I think the balance in this recipe is very nice! Now…I’ll see if you tackle that beautiful avocado ball! :-)

    • Hahahaha! Thanks, Debra. I was just at a brunch and saw how much oil a guy used to make one little omelet, and I passed. I think your assumption is truth-based.

  • I grew up with a version of this that convinced me I must not like it. After reading this, I’ll give it another whirl. Thanks, Mimi.

  • even though I adore the recipe you posted, I cannot stop thinking of the avocado ball salad…

    please…. would you share details on a future post??? I feel I need that in my life….

  • You’re right that a lot of commercial teriyaki sauces are too sweet. Might be why people like them. :-) Anyway, this looks terrific — perfect balance of flavors. Thanks!

  • Fantastic! I loved teriyaki foods when I visited Japan, but nothing in America has tasted very similar. If I can fight my laziness I’m aiming to make this.

  • Wow! That avocado ball salad is something else. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’m surprised that your husband has never ordered it (if not for the shear spectacle). The teriyaki looks great. I hope your husband enjoyed it more than the Japanese restaurants version.

    • He definitely did. It’s a shame he’s so picky, although boy has he changed/improved in 36 years! So I can hardly complain. Even tho I do…

  • Your talk of Ethiopian food reminds me of a fantastic Ethiopian Restaurant Lynne and I visited in Frankfurt 6 years ago. Lots of different vegetable and meat dishes served with flatbreads. Yum! Also, we used to eat out at a lot of Indian restaurants in and around Glasgow. But, after I took Indian cookery lessons and cooked those sort of dishes from home, Lynne preferred to stay at home at eat those. So, I sympathise with you when you talk about not being able to go back to that Japanese restaurant to enjoy your avocado ball salad as there’s many dishes I miss now from not going out! Anyway, being a fan of Nigella’s, I do love your remake of her Chicken Teriyaki! :-)

    • Thanks, Neil. You’re probably in the same boat as I am, with being the cook of the family. We just got back into town and I’ve already made a chicken stir fry, a hearty broccoli soup, and I’m cooking steaks tonight with asparagus and mushrooms. It would have been so much easier to go out, at least once!!!

  • I think you need to recreate that Avocado Ball Salad for us! I’m very intrigued! I still remember the first time I had Teriyaki, grilled, at my siste’r’s house. I was young and had never heard of it!! I’m sure it was from a jar, but it was so good! By the way, your chicken teriyaki sounds marvelous!

    • It’s a much better recipe than one using teriyaki from a bottle, but all recipes are better made from scratch I’d say!

  • That avocado ball salad looks so intriguing and I can’t stop thinking about it! I would have that for lunch every day myself. Homemade teriyaki sauce is so much better than anything you can buy in the store (or eat in most restaurants). I agree they are mostly way too sweet and sticky.

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