Unlike most eight-year-olds who looked to pizza or french fries as comfort food, I preferred Japanese cuisine. In fact, I used to (and potentially still do) rely on chicken teriyaki to cure all of my culinary concerns.
However, this craving was not easily satisfied. It wasn’t a basic dish that could be prepared in a microwave or baking oven like pizza and french fries could be. As most of my friends waited only a few minutes for their cheesy pizza and golden fries, I had to entertain myself for as long as it took my favorite Japanese restaurant to deliver the sweet and savory teriyaki goodness to my front door (that was if my dog didn’t scare away the delivery man first).
Eventually, this habit grew old and my family started to get tired of my unhealthy obsession with Japanese takeout. Even though they were ready to nix my delivery service demands, I refused to cut ties with my favorite dish, leading me to one of the best discoveries which I still value in my life today: homemade chicken teriyaki.
The word teriyaki can be broken into two basic terms: teri (shiny) and yaki (grilled). Most people don’t know that teriyaki refers to a cooking method which makes this recipe not only tasty, but simple and easy to follow.
The secret to chicken teriyaki is mastering the perfect sauce. This essential aspect of the dish requires soy sauce, granulated sugar, brown sugar, garlic cloves (crushed in a press), freshly grated ginger, ground black pepper, a three-inch cinnamon stick and pineapple juice. Together, the culmination of flavors will form a perfectly balanced sweet and savory sauce.
After combining these ingredients, transfer them into a small saucepan and immediately bring the sauce to a boil over high heat. Once the sauce has reached a steady boil, reduce the heat and continue to stir the ingredients until the sugar is completely dissolved (this should take no more than three minutes). Finally, remove the sauce from the heat, take out the cinnamon stick and mix in half a cup of water as you allow the marinade to cool down.
Now it is time to prepare the chicken. This aspect of the dish requires boneless chicken breasts which you will first place in a sealable plastic bag.
Pour the prepared sauce into the bag and be sure to distribute it evenly so the chicken is completely coated, as it will soon sit in the refrigerator over night. After allowing the chicken to marinate, transfer the extra sauce from the bag into a small saucepan.
Bring the sauce to a boil, mix in cornstarch and water over medium heat and continue to stir the mixture until the sauce starts to thicken (gradually adding in water will help to yield the ideal consistency).
The chicken is best cooked in a broiler or grill. Prior to hitting the pan, brush the pieces of chicken with your freshly prepared sauce. Next, allow the chicken to broil or grill for three to five minutes on each side or until the protein appears to be cooked entirely through.
To prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan, keep the breasts moving around the heated surface until both sides appear golden brown. When the chicken is completely prepared, rest the thighs on a cutting board and slice them into even strips. One chicken breast is recommended as the average serving size per person.
Once the chicken has had time to rest and has been distributed into thin pieces, feel free to arrange your dish as you please.
The traditional recipe is meant to be served over white rice, smothered in any extra sauce and garnished with cucumbers, green onions and toasted sesame for additional flavor. But if you don’t have these items in your kitchen, do what you gotta do to satisfy your craving and watch your friends grow green with envy as your enjoy your homemade creation.
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
6 cloves garlic (crushed in a press)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon pinapple juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
boneless chicken breasts
toasted sesame seeds