How to make homemade teriyaki sauce

Japanese dishes balance elements of taste to create a beautiful marriage in our mouths

Teriyaki chicken: sticky favourite. Photograph: iStock

Teriyaki chicken: sticky favourite. Photograph: iStock

 

Chicken teriyaki may seem commonplace these days, given our global world, and the fact that you can buy a jar of the sauce in the supermarket and simply add it to your cooked chicken.

Yet making your own teriyaki sauce is surprisingly easy and deeply rewarding in terms of flavour and taste. It’s akin to making your own tomato sauce for meatballs, or your own white sauce for lasagne. Readymade sauces never achieve a sense of homeliness, no matter how much you try and make them your own. Often they’re full of salt and sugar, too.

My recent exploration of Japanese cooking through my online cooking classes has left me with much admiration for the ways in which Japanese dishes balance the differing elements of taste, that is, how fat, salt, sugar, acidity and bitterness work together to create a beautiful marriage in our mouths.

It goes without saying, use free range chicken for this recipe, if you can. It’s just a better product overall in terms of taste and ethics. Go for a good brand of mirin and soy too, as cheaper offerings lack depth of flavour. If you don’t like chicken, then pork chops, or vegetables such as cauliflower, can be cooked in a similar manner to the recipe below, just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

How to make chicken teriyaki

Toss 1kg of boned chicken thighs in seasoned flour and allow to stand while you make the sauce. Place 150ml of sake, 150ml of mirin, 75ml of soy sauce with 15g sugar, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and one bay leaf in a pot and bring to the boil. Once the sauce comes to the boil, remove from the heat.

Fry the chicken in oil in a frying pan until nicely browned. Pour the sauce into the pan and spoon it over the chicken. Reduce the sauce by half or until it becomes syrupy and starts to stick to the chicken. Remove from the heat and season with a little flaky sea salt. I find teriyaki pairs well with boiled rice and pickled cabbage.

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