I love Japanese food and when deciding where to eat out with my family, a Japanese restaurant is always a top choice for us. Part of the reason why we like to eat out at Japanese restaurants is also because we don’t cook a lot of Japanese food at home. While I can make a decently inauthentic miso soup and steam some edamame, the intricately shaped rolls of sushi, airily crispy pieces of tempura and tenderly grilled oily fish seem like nothing I can produce at home.
However, teriyaki is entirely different. It is a dish that is very achievable in your own kitchen and in fact, tastes even better homemade. The teriyaki sauce is a combination of sweet and salty that is produced by mixing soy sauce, brown sugar and mirin in roughly equal parts. The sauce is then used to marinate the protein of choice – think chicken, salmon, beef or tofu – to infuse it with lots of flavour before cooking it off. But don’t throw away the marinade! Pour it into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil, reduce it by half and let the sauce become thick and syrupy. When your choice of protein is cooked, serve it with rice (our favourite choice) and generously drizzle the teriyaki sauce over everything.
To make our teriyaki dinner a bit healthier, I like to use either maple syrup or agave nectar as the sweetener instead of brown sugar. Also, we always use salmon for our teriyaki; the oily fish (rich in omega-3s) absorbs the marinade really well and remains moist and tender when cooked.
In keeping with the Asian theme, I like to serve a stir-fry of bean sprouts as a side. My 14-month old son went into a giggling fit eating them. Something about their long, thin, spindly shape amused him greatly.