Contrary to popular belief, “teriyaki” refers not to a sauce, but a technique. In this recipe, chicken thighs are briefly marinated and tossed with a little cornstarch before they’re cooked in a skillet. The meat is seared or broiled, then given a lustrous shine with a glaze of soy, mirin and sugar.
We happened to have one-pound packages of chicken thighs in the freezer so we thawed one of them. It is less that the 1 1⁄2 pounds called for, but since it was just the two of us, we figured it was plenty. We probably could have gotten away with cooking the chicken in one batch instead of two. All of the other ingredient amounts were kept as is.
Don’t forget to drain the chicken before coating it with cornstarch. Excess liquid will cause splattering during cooking. “Donburi” refers to individual one-bowl meals of rice with various toppings. To complement the chicken and add texture and freshness to the donburi, we also threw together a simple cabbage slaw.
Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowls (Donburi)
- 4 Tbsp. sake, divided
- 4 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. soy sauce, divided
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 2 tsp. white sugar
- 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
- 3 medium scallions, thinly sliced on bias
- 2 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 4 tsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
- 4 cups cooked Japanese-style short-grain rice, hot
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of the sake and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Add the chicken and toss. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon sake, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, the mirin and sugar. Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in the ginger; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, toss the cabbage and scallions with the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, the rice vinegar and sesame oil. Set aside.
- Drain the chicken in a fine mesh strainer. Wipe out the bowl, then return the chicken to it. Sprinkle with cornstarch and toss to coat.
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil until beginning to smoke. Add half the chicken in an even layer and cook without stirring until well browned on the bottom and the edges turn opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Flip and cook without stirring until well browned on the second side, about another 3 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl and repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and remaining chicken.
- Wipe out the skillet, then return the chicken to the pan. Pour in the soy sauce-ginger mixture and stir to coat. Cook over medium-high, stirring, until the liquid is syrupy and the chicken is glazed, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Divide the rice among 4 bowls. Top with the cabbage mixture and chicken.
Original recipe by Julia Rakow for Milk Street