Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I've been on a teriyaki kick lately. My basic recipe for teriyaki sauce is the one that Hiroko Shimbo gives in her book The Japanese Kitchen. Of course, you can find teriyaki sauces with all manner of ingredients in the aisles of your local supermarket, but Shimbo's more traditional version only uses shoyu, mirin, sake and sugar. Using her amounts of 1/2 a cup of mirin, 1/4 a cup each of shoyu and sake, and two tablespoons of sugar gives enough of a yield for two separate teriyaki entrees, but you could also make your own desired amount simply by using two parts mirin, one part each shoyu and sake, and sugar to taste. The ingredients are simmered together: first the mirin and sake over low to medium heat, then the shoyu and sugar are added. Simmer until the sugar dissolves, then continue to simmer over low heat for about 25 minutes. It's important to use drinking sake in this recipe, since the salt in cooking sake will throw off the flavor. I also prefer to use a dry sake in this sauce, since the combination of the mirin and the sugar makes it very sweet. A sweet sake style would be overkill.

You can use this as a simple sauce to dress some meat (as I did with a baked salmon steak the other night), but Shimbo's own teriyaki recipe pan-fries chicken in the sauce (with some orange juice). I ended up adapting her recipe for a small steak (since the steak came out of the freezer, I don't remember what cut it was, but it was probably something in the top blade vicinity). I pan-seared the steak in some oil over medium-high heat, then added the sauce. The sauce bubbled up at first, so I reduced the heat and basted the meat with it; I also turned the steak a few times. Ideally, one would remove the steak and let it rest while the sauce sopped up the fond, but I was feeling too lazy for that step.

When I cut into the meat to check its doneness, it was rarer than I wanted, so I solved that problem by the inelegant but effective expedient of slicing the steak, then turning the meat over in the sauce till it cooked through some more. It would have been ideal to serve this over rice, but since I didn't, I used the leftover teriyaki sauce (now augmented with beef juices and fond) over some udon noodles the following day. My pan-searing technique obviously needs more practice, but this is pretty simple, a nice way to make a special treat for a weeknight (especially if you have already made a batch of the sauce; it'll keep for about a week in the fridge).

I used the second half of that batch of teriyaki sauce for chicken a few nights later; I just simmered some chicken thighs in the sauce, turning them until they were done. Even though these were skinless chicken thighs, by the time they were done they were nicely glazed from the sauce. I can only imagine how good skin-on chicken thighs would look! The next time I do this I'll probably cut the chicken into more consistently-sized pieces so they cook more evenly. Other than that, I really can't complain.

You also can use this teriyaki sauce recipe as a base for for your own variation on the theme. Those bottles in the store can look awfully tempting sometimes, but I think it's more fun (not to mention cheaper) to make your own.


Faith Bahadurian said...

This sounds delicious, thank you for reminding me I should make teriyaki soon! I even have all these ingredients on hand. (My cupboard looks a little like the sauce/condiment aisle in an Asian supermarket. I can never resist...)

Winslow said...

Hi Faith,

I know what you mean; if I ever hit the lottery it will be a real temptation to blow it all on sauces from the Asian supermarket! In the meantime, I make my own. ;) I love that teriyaki is so easy to make, but tastes so good.

Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...


Brad said...

Sounds great thanks