Chicken Teriyaki

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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 Nigella.com 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…

 

Nigella Kitchen

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I happen to be a fan of Nigella Lawson. She’s so prolific in the cookbook department, but each of her books manages to be different.

My favorite is Nigella Christmas, but probably because I’m a Christmas freak. Feast is also fabulous. But maybe in my top five is Nigella Kitchen, published in 2010.

Nigella describes this book as a comfort chronicle – “the story of my love affair with the kitchen,” which she refers to as the “heart of the home.”

That’s probably one major thing that all food bloggers have in common, that we’re at home in our kitchens. It’s where we’re the most comfortable, where we dish up love in the form of food.

In her introduction, she stresses the fact that she is not a chef. Nigella writes, “I understand why cooking can hold so much terror and the kitchen seem a place of stress, not solace. I’m sure this is partly to do with the contemporary cult of the chef…”.

Well I’ve been saying this for years. If anyone was ever hesitant about getting into the kitchen, I think the intimidating chefs on tv put an end to any attempts at cooking. This is especially sad when home cooking has nothing to do with what chefs do in their restaurant kitchens.

Furthermore, she adds, “I say and can never seem to say enough: if we needed qualifications and expertise before we stepped into the kitchen, human beings would have fallen out of the evolutionary loop a long time ago.”

I love her approach, probably because it was always my goal, especially when I taught cooking classes, and now with this blog, to show how simple home cooking is, and how easy it is to be creative and not stick to an exact recipe.

In another part of the book she writes about having a girlfriend over for supper:

“We were chatting, moaning, jabbering away and generally passing the time, as one does. I was at the stove, pontificating and pottering occasionally pushing and prodding what was in front of me with a pair of tongs; she was facing me, at the kitchen table. After about ten minutes, if that I presented her with her plate and she looked surprised, as she was sure she hadn’t seen me actually cooking. In a way, I can see her point: this wasn’t Cooking-with-a-capital-C, but the lower-case way which is always my starting point, and on busy days, I wouldn’t think of going beyond. You put something on the heat, you take it off the heat.”

Nigella’s writing is so impressive to me (her first career was journalism), and she’s also damn funny. And even though she’s gorgeous model-pretty, she seems so down to earth and shall I say normal?

I also love the passion she has not just for cooking but also eating; the way she embraces her love of indulging is respectable to me. I’d rather live like Nigella and eat chocolate cake in the middle of the night, than doom myself to eat egg white omelets the rest of my life like rail-thin Gwyneth Paltrow.

So what recipe from Nigella Kitchen to pick for this post? I have many recipes bookmarked, some of which are quite simple, but manage also to be unique. One really spoke to me – it was a salmon over sushi rice topped with a spicy Asian sauce. Simple? Definitely. Yet fabulous.

I’ve always mentioned that I use brown rice, or actually when I use any grain I purchase the unprocessed variety for more nutrition, but Nigella’s use of sushi rice in this recipe – with its beautiful white elegance – made me actually go out and buy some.

Plus I finally get to use some sake that I’ve had on hand forever!

Salmon and Sushi Rice
with hot, sweet, and sour Asian Sauce

2 1/2 cups sushi rice
1 – 1 pound slab salmon
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red or green chile peppers, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced gingerroot
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons water (used used only 1)

Cook the rice following the package instructions.

Sear the salmon on a flat griddle for 4-5 minutes. Turn it over and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side. The salmon should be just opaque and cooked in the center. Set aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients together, and put in a bowl to serve alongside the salmon and the cooked rice.


Flake the salmon and serve it over the rice, and generously add the sauce.

This would be a fantastic sauce for any leftover salmon you might have. This recipe, as it turns out, is only about the cooked rice, the cooked salmon, and the sauce!

I originally assumed that the salmon was marinated, but no, it’s just a matter of making this fabulous sauce!

Besides reducing the water in the recipe(I didn’t want a watery sauce), I also added chile paste (sambal oelek) to the sauce.

Part of the reason is that I used jalapeños, but I could only find sweet red chile peppers.

I wanted the sauce more spicy!!!

Make sure and serve the sauce with the salmon. You’ll want more of it!

note: You can probably tell that I cooked 2 small salmon fillets, plus I only cooked 1 cup of sushi rice; my husband doesn’t eat salmon. But I made the full recipe of the sauce and will use it up on something else soon. Grilled chicken? Eggs? The next morning after I’d made this dish, I ate the second salmon and rice serving of it cold, for breakfast. It was fantastic.