When I was leaving home as a youth, this is one of the first recipes I copied out of my mother’s card file. When Dad returned from Japan in the early ‘50s, he brought back a love of all things Japanese and several Japanese recipes. My mother was making chicken teriyaki when it was still an exotic foreign food in California.
When most American families were getting hamburgers and hotdogs, we were getting chicken teriyaki and rice once or twice a month. This is one of the comfort foods of my youth. Mother usually baked this dish, but I have usually barbecue the marinated chicken.
This week, I had a desire for something close to the original dish. The original recipe was very simple. While I am using the original baked chicken technique, I have added a few ingredients to my own taste.
Karl’s Chicken Teriyaki
1 large roasting chicken (4-5 lbs.)
¾ cup light low sodium soy sauce
5 Tbs. sake
¼ cup mirin (sweetened rice wine)
¼ cup sugar
1½ Tbs. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. corn starch mixed with 1 Tbs. water
1 green onion, green part only, finely sliced
1. At least six hours before cooking—preferably overnight— cut the chicken into 8-10 portions.
Tip: I cut out the backbone and the breast bone. Cut the bird in half and then separate the legs from the breasts. I also remove any large lumps of fat and trim off the rib cage—these poky little bones have very little meat on them and they tend to puncture the marinating bag. Separate the leg and thigh. Divide the half breast into 2-3 portions—depending on their size. The neck, backbone and any scraps are frozen for making chicken stock another day.
2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a small pot and bring it just to a boil.
Tip: Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and remove the pot from the heat.
3. Let the teriyaki sauce cool completely.
4. Place the chicken pieces in a seal-able gallon plastic bag and add the teriyaki sauce.
5. Place the bag of chicken in the refrigerator and flip it over about every two hours.
Tip: Turning the bag over allows the sauce to reach all parts of the chicken. Six hours is a minimum marinating time, but overnight is better.
6. Lay the chicken pieces into a deep baking pan in a single layer and pour the teriyaki sauce over them.
Tip: Lining the pan with aluminum foil helps with cleanup. The high sugar sauce is very hard to remove once it burns onto the sides of the pan.
7. Put the chicken in a preheated 350° F oven and bake for 1¼ hours.
Tip: Turn the chicken 2 or 3 times while it is baking.
Note: Watch closely at the end of the cooking time to make sure it doesn’t burn.
8. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and tent with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
9. Strain any remaining sauce into a small pot and stir in the corn starch.
10. Heat the sauce, stirring frequently, until the sauce has completely thickened.
11. Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken and garnish with green onion.
12. Serve with steamed rice and any remaining sauce on the side.