Friday, 15 February 2013

Chicken Teriyaki - sticky fried chicken with stickier sauce

I lifted this recipe from Chow, a brilliant website that has all sorts of useful videos and tips. It seems a little obsessed with cocktails, which in my book pander to a fantasy drink cabinet, because reading the list of ingredient makes me bemused. Who has all that stuff to hand? I don’t even keep tonic water. In a moment of enthusiasm three years ago I went out and bought angostura bitters, only to realise that it was just one component part of the cocktail I wanted to make. I never got around to buying what I needed to put the thing together. I fully expect that bottle to last me my whole life, I am sure I will move house several times with it, fondly imagining the times when I will have all the ingredients I need to make the perfect cocktail such as the Boothby, in the house at the same time. Meanwhile, I find myself occasionally unscrewing the lid and taking a little sniff, to remind me what the hell is in that bottle. In saner moments I recognise that this is what might be called a companion ingredient – I keep it for company, rather than for use. No doubt my kidneys are grateful to my maintenance of an aspirational but incomplete cocktail cabinet, and I can still dream. 

Back to food – my pantry ingredients are more regularly replenished – this is pseudo teriyaki but it is not ersatz teriyaki, as it delivers on flavour. The endorsement of the lovely Kitty, daughter who shuns the home-cooked anything, gives it the flavourful thumbs-up. This is a finger-licking dish, as somehow the sauce gets everywhere. The chicken is pan-fried before the sauce is added, it has a gentle heat from the pepper and the sticky sauce is wonderful with plain rice. 

A quick review of teriyaki recipes that might be thought of as more authentic, finds mirin, sake and sugar putting in an appearance, alongside fresh ginger. Some include different kinds of oil and marinading as part of the process. Some like to cook the chicken with skin on, making it nice and crisply, but I use skinless chickens. Simpler and less fat. This recipe substitutes a bit of bashing about for marinading, and uses honey and soy sauce for the teriyaki. I dilute the soy sauce so that it isn't too salty. In total it takes about 15 minutes. I like it with rice, some green salad and sliced cucumber.

½ cup soy sauce with ¼ cup water
¼ cup honey
1 ¼ tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger (from about a thumb length piece), grated very fine
500g (about four large boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs) the breasts will need pounding…
Freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
If you like, serve with two spring onions (scallions to some), thinly sliced

  • Make the sauce first: Heat through the soy sauce, water and honey, bringing it to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often until the honey has completely dissolved, about 5 minutes (alternatively use the microwave, for one minute, stirring after 30 seconds)
  • Remove from heat and add the ginger, stirring to combine and set aside
  • If using chicken breasts, place them on a cutting board and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet, frying pan or rolling pin. Gently pound them to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut each in half so you have pieces roughly the same size. (If using chicken thighs, no need to pound or cut.)
  • Season both sides of the chicken with pepper.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat until shimmering and add the chicken in a single layer, and cook without poking for around 3 minutes. Then flip and cook the second side until equally browned, about 3 minutes more.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, slowly pour in the reserved sauce, and cook, turning the chicken occasionally to coat in the sauce, cooking through for around another 3 minutes.
  • Take the chicken out, shaking any sauce back into the pan, and put it onto a cutting board. I like to cover the chicken with a bowl to keep the juices in.
  • Keep cooking the sauce until it has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes more, then turn off the heat.
  • Slice the rested chicken crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces and put it on a serving dish. Drizzle over the sauce and sprinkle the sliced spring onions over the lot.

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