Teriyaki Chicken Breasts

One of the benefits of having a well-stocked pantry is that it gives you so much more flexibility when you want to get a meal out quickly. Case in point, this teriyaki chicken. Classic teriyaki sauce is made with soy sauce, mirin (a sweet rice wine), and sake. With these items in your pantry, you can easily make a simple but perfect teriyaki sauce for steak, salmon, or chicken. In this version of chicken teriyaki we first poach skinless, boneless chicken breasts in homemade teriyaki sauce. Then we boil the heck out of the sauce to reduce it to a syrupy glaze to pour back over the cooked chicken. The result? Easy to make, low in fat, and the method produces a perfectly tender chicken breast every time.

Please note that we’ve updated the recipe since we first posted it. Because people were having an issue with the chicken not being cooked through we went back to the drawing board and tested and retested the recipe several times. So many things could affect the poaching liquid temperature and chicken cooking time (if the breasts were at room temp, how many pieces were being cooked, how big the pieces, etc.), that we’ve adjusted the recipe so that it holds up to more variability in conditions. The recipe now has more liquid, a longer poaching time, and the pot is kept on very low heat.

  • Cook: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce* (or mix tamari** and water in equal proportions to make 3/4 cup)
  • 3/4 cup sake
  • 3/4 cup mirin
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • A 1-inch piece of ginger, grated fine
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total (set out for 30 minutes to come to room temp)
  • 2-3 Tbsp sesame seeds

*Use gluten-free soy sauce for gluten-free version.
**If you are using tamari instead of soy sauce, use half as much, as tamari is more concentrated than soy sauce.

Method

1 Mix the grated ginger, sugar, soy sauce, sake and mirin in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts, return to a simmer, then lower the heat to the lowest possible setting (warm if you can), on your smallest burner, and cover. The idea is to cook the chicken as gently as possible, below a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. If you are working with somewhat large chicken breasts, you may need to cook them longer, or cut them in half before cooking.

2 While the chicken is poaching, toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until they begin to brown. Move to a small bowl and set aside.

3 Remove the chicken breasts from the teryaki sauce, set on a plate and wrap with foil. Bring the sauce back to a boil and boil vigorously until the sauce is reduced to a syrup, about 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on the sauce, stirring it occasionally.

To serve, slice the chicken breasts, cover with the teriyaki sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds on them. Serve with plain white rice.

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