True Chicken Teriyaki

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Yields: 4 servings


  • 1/2 cup mirin, storebought or homemade
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup Japanese soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 large boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Canola oil
  • 1 green onion, green part only, cut into rings and/or ground sansho pepper


  1. Combine the mirin and sake in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium-low for 5 minutes, then add the soy sauce and sugar. Stir until dissolved.
  3. Adjust the heat to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until reduced by about a third and thickened. There should be a very generous 1/2 cup. Set aside to cool and concentrate.
  4. Use or store in a jar in the fridge for a week. Return to room temperature before using.
  5. Rinse and pat the thighs dry with paper towel. Poke it with a toothpick or fork to let flavors penetrate.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a small splash of oil.
  7. Cook the thighs, smooth side down, for 3 minutes, or until a little golden underneath.
  8. Turn each piece over, lower the heat to medium-low or low, then cover; you want a gently hiss. Cook for 8 minutes, or until just cooked through.
  9. Add about 2 tablespoons of the sauce.
  10. Turn to coat the chicken, increase the heat to medium. Let the chicken cook in the bubbling sauce for 3 to 5 minutes, turning often, until the sauce has coated the chicken with a reddish-brown gloss.
  11. The pan will be have some fat from the chicken as well as the cooked down dark-colored teriyaki sauce.
  12. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  13. Cut across the grain, arrange on a plate and garnish with a sprinkling of green onion and/or sansho pepper. Serve with rice.

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