Greetings from the sodden Northwest. In the past four days we have received over 7 ½ inches of rain. From drizzle to torrent to the occasional late night snow flurry, it has been WET!
When the weather turns a bit foul, you have a lot of time to think about the food that is going to make you feel warm and comfy. So, what do you do? Grill!
Yes, we grill, even in the rain. It’s kind of tropical or summer like, anyway, it makes great food, keeps the cooking smells down in the house, and it keeps you warm. At least while you’re hovering over the glowing barbecue it does.
Tonight, we’re having one of our childhood favorites. Teriyaki Chicken. Now, here on the Pacific Rim you can’t swing a cat without hitting a teriyaki joint. The grocery stores offer up several varieties from Hawaiian to Soy Vey, to Kikkoman. And, it’s not that those are not good but, let’s be honest, whipping up teriyaki sauce is not rocket science or haute cuisine. It takes 10 minutes tops and, best of all, you can customize it to your taste. Mind you, this was the exotic food of the 60s but it’s dead easy to make.
First, for those of you who like a bit of food history, what we make here in North America is not an authentic Japanese sauce. Set aside the pineapple juice and all the other stuff, what makes it unauthentic is the garlic. Garlic, traditionally, is not an integral part of the sauce in Japan. However, like all our crazy sushi rolls, it is worming its way into their hearts and tummies. After all, what’s not to like about grilling with garlic, right?
Okay, got that bit of distracting trivia out of the way – back to the recipe. This is an authentic 60s version of this classic. It’s a marinade, not a sauce and it requires you to marinate the meat in it for a couple of hours in order to get the best results from it. This makes it perfect for making up the night before so, when you get home, you pop it onto the barbie and, bingo, homemade retro food!
As we said, teriyaki sauce is not rocket science. All you need is:
- 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger)
- 3 cloves of grated garlic
- ¾ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup dry white wine, saki, Chardonnay, vermouth, etc. (Hey! We said it was retro, not authentic!)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Sweetener to taste
Whisk the ingredients together. In our version we like to add a touch of Hoisin sauce. There’s just something really satisfying about adding a touch of it to the marinade. We use about two teaspoons worth. Our sweetener was about 6 drops of liquid Stevia. We prefer our teriyaki to the savory side but suit yourself.
Anyway, once you’ve added sweetener to meet your taste, pour in the sesame oil and whisk vigorously.
Immerse the meat (tonight it’s chicken thighs) and turn them occasionally. Let this marinate for at least 2 hours but, overnight in the fridge works really well.
When the meat has turned a lovely mahogany color, toss them on a medium heat grill and cook until the internal temperature is right for the kind of meat you are using. Be sure to check the meat frequently. It will be likely to burn easily. We prefer to grill over indirect heat. Just slide the coals to one side and put the food on the other. When you’re almost ready to take the meat off, put it over the coals to throw on a quick char.
We like our teriyaki with grilled vegetables. Zucchini rounds, whole green onions, bok choy halves, whole okra, and mushrooms all work well.
While the meat is cooking, take the left over marinade and reduce it over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Whatever you do, please don’t thicken it with cornstarch or, worse yet, flour. There is no reason to ruin this delicate, delicious sauce with paste. It takes a bit of time but you have it. The meat on the barbie is going to need a bit of time anyway.
So, there you have it. An authentic recipe from the 60s – not from Japan. But, despite that, it’s a taste treat. Subtler than the teriyaki you make with the bottled stuff but infinitely more interesting and you control what went into making it.