What is Teriyaki?
Teriyaki is a word that food-lovers hear an awful lot. Teriyaki sauce, teriyaki jerky and the phrase “teriyaki-style” all seem to come up rather often in the discussion of food. In order to be the best food-lovers we can be why don’t we take a moment to learn exactly what teriyaki is.
So what is teriyaki, exactly? Some might be surprised to find out that the word refers not just to the flavoring, but to the cooking style as well. Teriyaki refers to the technique of broiling or cooking in a sweet soy sauce marinade. It’s a style of cooking that originated in Japanese cuisine and is commonly used to cook fish, chicken, pork, lamb and beef (although fish is the most common in Japan).
The word “teriyaki” comes from two different Japanese words: “teri”, which means luster, and “yaki”, which means grill or broil. Put together the word refers to the luster of the sauce, which has been brushed onto the meat while it was being cooked.
The teriyaki sauce itself is made from mixing soy sauce with mirin (a kind of rice wine that helps give the sauce its necessary luster) and sugar. The mirin can be substituted with sake and the sugar with honey if desired. The sauce can have additional ingredients such as sesame or garlic. All of this is heated to create the perfect marinade.
One surprising entry into the teriyaki mythos is how common it is in Seattle. In Seattle the dish is advertised everywhere, akin to the cheese steak in Philadelphia or the New York-style pizza slice. In 2010 the Washington State Restaurant Associations listed 83 restaurants in Seattle with “Teriyaki” in the name and teriyaki dished can be ordered at baseball games!
The only catch is that the dishes are far enough away from traditional dishes (being sweetened with pineapple juice or thickened with corn starch) that purists say it doesn’t really qualify. In many cases Korean chefs have brought their own cultural influence to the food, which some people argue is better. We’ll let you decide for yourself next time you’re in Seattle.
However you prefer your teriyaki dishes there’s no denying it’s a flavor that has taken the world by storm. Why not give it a try with our Roasted Glazed Teriyaki Spareribs. Would it be better with mirin? Judge for yourself.