~ Dinner's in 20 Minutes: Japanese Teriyaki Chicken~
On days when cooking is a chore, having a few recipes like this tucked away in your repertoire will keep you sane. Yes, even I have those kind of days occasionally, and, recipes like this do keep me sane and out of the drive-thru too. Most times, they're faster than delivery as well. In the case of this meal, I simply put rice in my electric rice steamer, open a package of fresh broccoli florets, chop a few chicken tenders and get a bottle of teriyaki sauce out of my pantry. I don't feel one bit guilty about it either -- no more guilty than putting Goulden's brown mustard on my hot dog, Heinz ketchup on my hamburger or Hellman's mayonnaise on my turkey sandwich.
There's no shame in owning a bottle of teriyaki sauce.
When a recipe says it can be made in 20 minutes, I assume that a shortcut or two has been taken, and, if it's a high-quality "bottle of this" or "can of that", I'm not bothered by it a bit. That said, when a recipe says it can be made in 20 minutes, it had better live up to my taste expectations. Twenty minutes is 20 minutes and if I'm taking any amount of time to make anything it'd better taste really good. This recipe is both quick-to-make and really good tasting. Since it's neither classic nor authentic Japanese, feel free to customize it to your family's liking. Bell peppers instead of broccoli? Sure. Lo-mein noodles instead of rice? Fine by me.
That said, if you find yourself without a bottle of teriyaki sauce in your pantry, or, if you have an extra five minutes and you are so inclined, teriyaki sauce is quick and easy to make -- IF you do enough Asian cooking to have 1-2 Asian staples and 1-2 common pantry ingredients on hand:
1/2 cup mirin (a cooking wine made from rice) or sake (sometimes thought of as beer because it's made from grain, but classified as a wine)
1/4 cup white or brown sugar
2-3 teaspoons minced fresh garlic and/or ginger (optional)
4 teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch
4 teaspoons cold water
Teriyaki (tehr-uh-yah-kee): Teriyaki is a Japanese term referring to a method of cooking beef, chicken or seafood that has been marinated (in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and/or ginger) prior to being grilled, broiled or stir-fried. "Teri" is the Japanese word for "luster", and it is the sugar in the marinade that gives the food its "teri" or shiny glaze. It's interesting to note that in Japan, there is no official teriyaki sauce. Teriyaki sauce was invented by early Japanese settlers to Hawaii.
They created a slightly-and-nicely thickened marinade/basting sauce using local, readily-available Hawaiian products, like pineapple juice (in place of the mirin or sake of their homeland) and wild garlic (in place of or in conjuction with the ginger they brought with them), mixed with soy sauce and thickened with cornstarch. To make teriyaki sauce from scratch:
~ Step 2. In a 1-quart saucepan, stir together the soy or tamari sauce, mirin or sake and white or brown sugar. Add the minced garlic and or ginger. Bring to a steady simmer over medium heat and cook about 1 minute. Whisk cornstarch mixture into the sauce and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is drizzly but slightly-thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and use as directed. To use as a marinade: cool sauce to room temperature prior to using. Keep unused sauce stored in a tightly-covered container in the refrigerator for several weeks.
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce, store-bought or homemade from above recipe, for the marinade (Note: When choosing a store-bought brand, shake the bottle. If the sauce/marinade is the consistency of soy sauce, do not buy it. It is too thin. For this reason, I will tell you: Do not buy Kikkoman brand -- it is thin and salty. I like and purchase Shirakiku at my Asian market and it is pleasantly sweet and saucelike.)
12-16 ounces broccoli florets
1/4 cup minced, fresh garlic and/or ginger (optional)
1/2 cup diced green onion, white and light green part only, yellow or sweet onion may be substituted (optional)
2 tablespoons each: peanut oil and sesame oil, for the stir-fry
1/2-1 cup additional teriyaki sauce, for saucing the stir-fry
3 cups uncooked jasmine rice
~Step 1. Place 3 cups of rice in the steamer with 3 cups of water. Turn it on and let it do all the work for 20 minutes. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces, placing it in a 1-gallon food storage bag as you work, add 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce, toss, until chicken is coated in sauce, then, set aside to marinate for 15 minutes. In a 4-quart saucepan bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and blanch for exactly 2 minutes. Drain into a colander, rinse thoroughly under cold water to halt the cooking process and set aside to drain thoroughly. Chop the optional garlic, ginger and onion. All of this can easily be accomplished in 15 minutes.
Note: I use my electric skillet to prepare this stir-fry-type meal. It controls the heat perfectly, and, it has the surface area to cook all of the ingredients evenly (enough to feed a family of four -- which most stir-fry recipes don't typically yield), in a short period of time, about 5 minutes.
~ Step 2. Place peanut oil and sesame oil in skillet and adjust heat in skillet to 250 degrees. Add optional ingredients (garlic, ginger and onion) and chicken to hot oil. Stir-fry, using a large spoon or spatula to keep mixture moving at all times, until chicken is just short of being cooked through, about 2 1/2-3 minutes. Add the broccoli and continue to stir-fry another 1-1 1/2 minutes. Stir in additional teriyaki sauce, in small amounts, until all ingredients are coated to your liking -- I add the entire 1 remaining cup.
Portion rice into bowls or onto plates...
Special Equipment List: 1-quart saucepan; small wire whisk; cutting board; chef's knife; electric rice steamer; 4-quart saucepan; colander; 16" electric skillet or 14" skillet on the stovetop; large spoon or spatula
Cook's Note: Thanks to a two week stay in Tokyo, I have lots of tales to tell about Japanese food. My favorite perhaps, revolves around yakitori. You can find all of my posts ~ My Japanese Takitori Story & All the Facts Jack ~, ~ Japanese 'Yakitori no Tare' (BBQ/Basting Sauce) ~, ~ Japanese 'Yakitori' (Skewered & Grilled Chicken) ~, and, ~ Time Out to Define: Sukiyaki, Teriyaki & Yakitori ~, in Category 13.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)