While teriyaki may have originally been a grilled dish, these days in Japan, the chicken is pan-fried more often than not due to busy schedules and a lack of charcoal grills. It doesn't have the smoky flavor that grilled chicken teriyaki has, but pan frying produces chicken that's more moist and tender. The best part is that the chicken and sauce can be made in the same pan, which not only makes it fast and easy, it means there's one less pot to wash.
Since discovering this method for easy chicken teriyaki, I've honestly been using it more than the grilled method because it produces great results with much less effort, and so I wanted to share it with all of you.
In case you're wondering why there's no cornstarch in the sauce, it's because the soy sauce and sugar caramelize during cooking, naturally thickening the sauce. If you add cornstarch it not only clouds the sauce, your teriyaki sauce will taste flat in comparison because it hasn't had a chance to caramelize.
This can be made with any cut of chicken, but in Japan the thigh meat is preferred because it has more flavor. In Japan, "chicken thighs" include both the meat from the drumstick and thigh, so one "thigh" ends up making for a large steak-sized fillet of chicken. In the US, you can either buy whole legs and fillet them yourself, or you can just use more of the smaller chicken thighs. Either way, make sure the fillet is as even in thickness as possible otherwise you'll end up with parts that are undercooked and other parts that are overcooked.
- Rub the ginger and and salt into the chicken and let this sit for at least 30 minutes. After it's marinated, use paper towels to dry the chicken as best you can, removing any excess ginger pulp.
- Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan over medium heat. You don't want to start the chicken off over too high a heat otherwise it will not cook through before burning. Place the chicken skin-side down in the pan and fry until golden brown on one side.
- Flip the chicken, then add 1 tablespoon of sake and quickly cover the pan with a lid. Steam the chicken until it is just cooked through (about 5 minutes).
- Prepare the teriyaki sauce by mixing 1 tablespoon each of: honey, mirin, sake, and soy sauce. Stir to combine.
- Remove the lid, and drain any remaining liquid and oil. Use a paper towel to sop up any excess oil.
- Turn up the heat to high, then add the teriyaki sauce. Let this mixture boil, while flipping the chicken repeatedly to coat evenly.
- The chicken teriyaki is done when most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce forms a thick glaze around the chicken. Slice and pour the remaining teriyaki sauce over the chicken.