Teriyaki Sauce: Origins and Ingredients


This Asian condiment is typically used as a marinade for meat and fish

An essential marinade in Japanese cuisine, teriyaki sauce references the culinary technique of grilling marinated foods utilizing a sweet mix of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar that is most commonly used to season fish and meats. The word “teriyaki” is derived from the words “teri”, referencing the sauce’s shine, and “yaki”, which refers to the culinary method of grilling.

The Origins of Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce has a very interesting history. It is widely believed that the cooking technique emerged in the 17thcentury in Japan, referring to the culinary method that was used to grilled food during the era.

On the other hand, the sauce originated in Hawaii with the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants, who invented a new marinade mixing local products, like pineapple juice, with soy sauce, which eventually evolved into teriyaki as we know it today.

This marinade began to gain popularity in the United States in the ‘60s thanks to the boom of Japanese restaurants. Nowadays various versions of teriyaki sauce exist, but all of them contain soy sauce as a main ingredient.

What Is Teriyaki Sauce Made Of?

The most traditional teriyaki sauce consists of soy sauce, mirin (Japanese rice wine), sugar, and sake (a fermented rice drink) or another similar type of alcohol. However, ginger, garlic, or sesame are also sometimes added.

Can You Make It at Home?

Given that it is merely a combination of ingredients, teriyaki sauce is quite easy to make at home. You just have to mix water, soy sauce, mirin or rice wine, and sugar in a saucepan and heat.

In another bowl, mix a little bit of water and cornstarch and add to the soy sauce mix. Keep heating over low heat for 5-7 minutes until a thicker consistency is achieved. You can save homemade teriyaki sauce in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

Uses for Teriyaki Sauce

Aside from its use as a marinade for fish and meats, teriyaki sauce combines especially well with chicken. It can also be used when stir frying vegetables.

If you are going to use teriyaki sauce as a marinade, you should let your food set for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Extend this time if you are cooking beef or pork.

Teriyaki sauce provides a sweet and umami touch to any dish, always enhancing flavor.


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