When I hear the word “teriyaki,” I think of Larry David’s Chicken Teriyaki Boy or that goopy, cloyingly sweet sauce also known as teriyaki.
My experiences with teriyaki sauces have been limited to that awful stuff that often slimes airplane chicken meals or sad stir fries.
However, my view of teriyaki changed as I flipped through Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking and Harumi’s Japanese Cooking, written by Harumi Kurihara. Although I borrowed these books from the library months ago, they inspired me by making Japanese cooking approachable and accessible. I drooled over Harumi’s recipe for petite beef patties that glistened with a simple teriyaki sauce made from mostly soy sauce and mirin.
Instead of incorporating bread crumbs into my ground beef, I used ground, instant oats. This resulted in meat patties that reminded me of baked, Lebanese kibbe.
I have glazed turkey burgers with reduced soy and mirin with delicious results. This was no exception. I created this recipe as I cooked so my best advice is to taste as you go, following the recipe as basic guidelines. Since I cooked with small quantities of meat, double the recipes as needed.
2 chicken thighs trimmed of excess fat (I used bone-in, but boneless would be fine)
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 pound ground beef (or turkey)
Oil or butter
1/2 onion, minced
3 button mushrooms, minced
1/2 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
1 small garlic clove, grated
Wocestershire sauce, 2 dashes
1 small squirt of ketchup
1/2-3/4 cup instant oats, pulverized in a blender of food processor
Spritz of fresh lemon juice
Optional: Cayenne or other hot pepper
To prepare the teriyaki sauce
In a small saucepan, reduce equal parts of soy sauce and mirin. Add a little grated ginger. Gradually add more sugar until the sauce is not too salty. Gently reduce until the sauce is glossy and coats the back of a spoon.
If the sauce seems to salty, add more mirin, sugar, or water. If it seems to sweet, add more soy sauce. Spritz in some fresh lemon juice for brightness.
To prepare the chicken
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Preheat a skillet with oil to medium-high.
Rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry. Trim off the extra skin.
Season the skin-side of the chicken with salt and pepper and place in the preheated pan, skin-side down. Let the chicken cook until the skin renders to golden brown.
Remove the chicken from the pan and place in a lightly oiled baking dish, on top of the sliced onions, skin-side up.
Bake for about an hour or until the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink. As the chicken cooks, baste with the teriyaki sauce and pan juices.
To prepare the beef patties
In a pan over medium heat, saute the minced onion and mushrooms, seasoning with salt and pepper. As the vegetables cook, grate in ginger and stir. When the vegetables are translucent and the ginger is fragrant, remove from heat. Grate in the garlic, stir, and allow to lightly cook.
Roughly pulverize the oats in a blender or food processor.
In a bowl, incorporate the ground meat, sauteed vegetables/ginger/garlic, egg, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, salt, and pepper. Add the ground oats until the patties hold together. Test the seasoning by sauteing a small amount of the meat.
Form the mixture into patties and sear over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and baste with the teriyaki sauce as the patties cook through. Add a little water to the bottom of the pan, as needed so the teriyaki sauce does not scorch. Cover the patties with a lid for faster cooking.
I served my glazed meats alongside Thai sticky rice, sauteed mushrooms, and green peas.