Sous Vide Chicken Teriyaki

Sous Vide Chicken Teriyaki

While it can be a marvelously tender and juicy cut of meat, cooking chicken breast perfectly consistently can be challenging for even the most experienced chefs. The difference between a worryingly pink breast and and a dry clump of protein with a texture like damp cardboard is only a matter of seconds.

Since most conventional ovens don’t go below 175 degrees F, we usually cook chicken by blasting it with heat in the hopes that we can stop the cooking just as the inside reaches 165 degrees F. The problem with this approach is that by the time the center of the meat hits a temperature of 165 F, the rest of the meat has blown past that number, resulting in the core temperature rising further due to the residual heat. That’s why most recipes will have you pull the chicken out of the oven after it reaches 160 degrees F, which factors in about 5 degrees of additional cooking from the carry over cooking.

If you’re confused, I don’t blame you, cooking chicken breast in a traditional oven is a bit like going duck hunting with a slingshot. Put simply, chicken breasts aren’t well suited to being cooked via traditional methods. So how should we be cooking chicken breasts?

Well, let’s first take a look at the reasons behind the recommended internal temperature of 165 F for chicken. According to the USDA, salmonella is killed almost instantly in chicken at temperatures above 162 F. By setting the guideline at 165 F, they’re giving a conservative number that’s easy to remember and accounts for variables such as the fat content of the meat and inaccuracies of thermometers. Like most things in nature though, killing pathogens isn’t so black and white.

Killing pathogens isn’t just about temperature, it’s also a function of time. For instance at temperatures above 162 degrees F, Salmonella is destroyed in under 10 seconds, at 150 degrees F it takes 2.7 minutes and at 136 degrees F it tastes 63.3 minutes. So in theory you could cook chicken to 136 degrees (which is the equivalent to a medium rare steak) and provided you held it there for long enough, it would be just as safe to eat as an overcooked piece of chicken registering 180 degrees F.

But with traditional cooking methods, holding chicken at a low temperature for such a long time would have been next to impossible, and certainly out of the reach of most home cooks. This is where cooking sous vide really shines. It’s a technique that allows you to cook food in a waterbath that’s held at a constant temperature. This allows you to cook difficult foods such as chicken breast safely and predictably, which is why the technique has become so popular in restaurants kitchens.

Sous Vide Chicken Recipe

Critics say that sous vide takes the skill out of cooking and that it makes proteins boring because they end up too tender, but I couldn’t disagree more. Like any technique or tool in a chef’s arsenal, the skill is in knowing when and how to use it.

The thing that’s kept it out of most homes has been the high price of the equipment. But over the past couple of years, new home sous vide devices such as the Anova immersion circulator, which goes for less than $200 has made the technique far more accessible than it ever has been.

Because meats cooked sous vide never see the temperatures required to elicit the Maillard reaction, in most cases it’s important to finish the chicken off by browning it. With chicken breasts, you really want to avoid overcooking it, which is why I stay away from ovens and frying pans and opt a torch to finish it off.

For this chicken teriyaki, I glaze the chicken with a mixture of sugar soy sauce and sake before torching it, which preserves the moist tenderness on the interior while giving you a marvelously caramelized exterior.

Equipment you'll need:

Sous Vide Chicken Teriyaki
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Perfectly cooked sous vide chicken breast glazed in teriyaki sauce and brûléed
Sous Vide Chicken Teriyaki
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Votes: 29
Rating: 2.93
You:
Rate this recipe!
Perfectly cooked sous vide chicken breast glazed in teriyaki sauce and brûléed
Servings Prep Time
breast 5minutes
Cook Time
90minutes
Servings Prep Time
breast 5minutes
Cook Time
90minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken breast - skinless boneless
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar - evaporated cane juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon sugar - evaporated cane juice
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon sake
Units:
Instructions
  1. Dry the chicken with a paper towel and then coat with the ginger juice. Mix the sugar and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle on both sides of the chicken.
  2. Place the chicken in a vacuum bag and seal. It's best to let the chicken marinate overnight but you can also cook it right away.
  3. Heat a water bath to 140 degrees F (60 C). Drop the bagged chicken in the water and cook sous vide for 1 hour 30 minutes.
  4. When the chicken is done, remove it from the bag, dry the surface with a paper towel, and place the chicken on a heatproof surface.
  5. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining sugar, soy sauce and sake. Bring to a boil and boil until the sauce is thick, forming large shiny bubbles.
  6. Drizzle half the sauce onto the chicken and quickly torch the glaze until it has caramelized into a rich mahogany color. If you don't have a torch, you can put the chicken directly under the heating element of a broiler set to high.
  7. Slice the chicken and drizzle with the remaining sauce.

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  • Elsie

    Is this for a whole breast or just a half one?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Elsie, each chicken has two breasts, so if by “whole breast” you mean both of them, then yes it’s a half a chicken worth of breastmeat.

  • Lane

    What about including some of the soy sauce in the bag during the sous vide step??

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Lane you could do that, the reason I don’t is because I like the contrast between the white meat and the brown sauce. If you marinate the meat in soy sauce, it will make it brown. If you’re okay with that, then go for it.

      • Lane

        Make sense – guess I need to get the PolyScience cranked up.

  • http://www.thefoodpirates.com/ Darren Tran

    Looks good! Would chicken cooked that long at 140 be tooooo tender (I guess sort of like your post mentioned)… would it make its texture similar to an over brined breast?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Darren, I guess that depends on what you consider too tender. It’s certainly not mush, but if you like your chicken stringy then this is probably not for you.

  • Peregrining

    Hey Marc, Isn’t the 1:40 subjective based on the starting meat temp or are you assuming the chicken straight out of a cold frig?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Peregrining, the time it takes to get the meat up to 60 C will depend on how cold the meat is, how thick it is, and how much fat it contains, it’s most likely less than 1:40. Since cooking sous vide gives you a wide window of perfection, and you can’t exactly stick it with a meat thermometer, I erred on the long end to ensure it’s up to temperature.

  • http://www.ouichefnetwork.com Oui, Chef

    I just bought an ANOVA myself and am looking forward to giving this great looking recipe a try. So far all I’ve cooked in the water bath is pork belly….AMAZING!

  • Karon Reiter

    This recipe looks delicious. However, I do not have an Anova Sous Vida or a VacMaster nor am I going to go out and purchase one as it is entirely too expensive for something I would rarely use unless I cooked chicken breasts a lot, which I don’t. I don’t like breasts. They’re dry as you mentioned above. I like thighs. Juicy, moist and yummy and are superior tasting to breasts. So my question is, can I alter this to dish and delete the water bath by cooking thighs instead in a skillet or the oven?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Karon, this preparation is specifically for cooking chicken sous vide, so no, you can’t do this without a water bath. That said, I have a pan-fried chicken teriyaki recipe here: http://norecipes.com/recipe/teriyaki-chicken-recipe/ and a grilled chicken teriyaki recipe here: http://norecipes.com/chicken-teriyaki-recipe/

      • Karon Reiter

        I already have those 2 recipes bookmarked to cook. But this one looked so interesting with the sugar, soy and sake bubbling to a boil and then pouring it over the chicken and TORCHING it. Must be amazing. Oh, well. You can’t have everything I guess.

        • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

          Hi Karon, while the torching may look cool, you actually get a better glaze with the pan-fried method. The reason I don’t apply the sauce in a pan for this one is that it would heat the chicken up to much, thus negating the benefit of cooking the breast sous vide:-)— Sent from Mailbox

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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