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Chicken Teriyaki: A Versatile Favorite for Snacks or Meals


Teriyaki refers to a technique of pan-broiling or frying food with glaze so as to give it a gloss. With its sweet and savory sauce, chicken teriyaki is known worldwide. It’s great both as a snack to go with drinks and as a rice topper.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 chicken thigh (300 g)
  • 2/3 tsp salt, to be sprinkled on both sides of the chicken
  • Chopped asatsuki chives, to taste (can be substituted with jalapeño or other chili pepper)
  • Mustard paste, to taste
  • Teriyaki sauce:
    • 2 tbsp mirin (sweet cooking sake)
    • 1 tbsp sake
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp sugar


  1. Lay the chicken thigh in a heated frying pan with the skin down. Weight it down with a small pot or other heavy object, placing aluminum foil in between. Reduce heat to low and cook for 12–13 minutes until the skin is golden brown.

Placing a weight over the chicken helps to evenly brown the skin. (©

  1. Remove the chicken and wipe the excess grease from the pan with a paper towel.
  2. Add the sauce ingredients and boil down on medium heat.

Add the sauce ingredients to the wiped pan. (©

  1. When the sauce is reduced to half, return the chicken to the pan with the skin side up. Simmer for about three minutes on very low heat, basting the skin by spooning the sauce over it. Remove from heat when the sauce is reduced to about one-third.

The chicken will gradually take on a glaze as you baste. (©

  1. Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, cut into easy-to-eat pieces and serve in a dish. Pour the sauce over it. Garnish with asatsuki chives and/or mustard paste as desired.

Cooking Tips

  • Teriyaki, meaning “glaze cooking,” refers to a technique of pan-broiling or frying food with glaze so as to give it a gloss.
  • Mirin is responsible for the gloss. As such, twice as much mirin is used in the sauce as the other ingredients. If mirin is unavailable in stores near you, you can dissolve 1-2 tbsp of sugar in 1/2 cup white wine to create a substitute.
  • Pressing the chicken flat with a weight (you can use a pot or smaller pan as shown in the photo above) ensures even cooking.
  • It is best to use low heat, as high heat will burn the surface before the inside is cooked through.
  • In Japanese cooking, meat is often cut up before serving. This is because smaller pieces are easier to eat with chopsticks.
  • You can spice up the chicken with chili pepper or other seasoning and have it as a snack to accompany your drinks, or you can make a meal out of it by serving over a bowl of hot rice.
  • This is also a perfect dish to include in your bentō box.

(Originally written in Japanese with editorial assistance by Usami Rika and published on January 29, 2018. Photos by Natori Kazuhisa, except where otherwise noted.)

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