3.3.08

It is Teri but not yucky, okey?

After posting about those delish cheeses from Europe, I go back to the Asian style of food preparation. Try Japanese. I am posting about that dish called Teriyaki? I am not from Japan. I have not lived nor visited Japan. Well, almost in 1994, the local Japanese Embassy in fact granted me a business Visa. Look, I didn’t know it was winter in Japan that time L. So my trip was cancelled although my scheduled companion-friend went ahead anyway. But I digress. Ah yes - never lived, never visited the cherry blossoms country. But I got me a couple of Japanese friends, okey?

I met them when I attended a business conference in Singapore. With little English on their part, we talked about what else, food. Sign language you see. And yes, we were dining in a Japanese restaurant at that time. And Yessss we were feasting on teriyaki.

That’s what I call a seguey :-)

So, what is Teriyaki?

Teriyaki is one of the many ways of Japanese cooking. The word, teriyaki is a combination of two Japanese words "teri" and "yaki." Teri means luster and yaki means grill or broil. To make a teriyaki dish, ingredients are broiled, roasted or grilled after being marinated in or basted by teriyaki sauce. It is the teriyaki sauce that brings the shiny look (teri) to the ingredients. This is the real teriyaki. Today, any dish cooked with teriyaki sauce seems to be called teriyaki. to me that's okey. With or without authentic Japanese ingredients, teriyaki deserves to be prepared and enjoyed.

Oh heck, but does it matter if I have very little teriyaki cooking experience? Authentic or not, I prepare teriyaki with a must ingredient -- grated ginger and chopped onions. And since this is the only kind of teriyaki I have eaten, I admit I might be biased. Teriyaki must be marinated before and while grilling. We marinade for not less than 24 hours. Whether it is beef or chicken or both, is fine with me. It is great with fish and seafood. Even veggies' will enjoy being bathed particularly in freshly prepared teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki chefs say that the key ingredient in teriyaki is its sauce and behind a great sauce is mirin. Mirin adds luster to the food ingredients when it's cooked. It adds that flavorful aroma that astounds the palate with eager anticipation for what lies ahead the eating experience.
Mirin’s sweetness is so unlike sugar. It's a perfect seasoning I think, to Japanese cooking. Mirin is clear and light gold in color. I think There are two types of mirin: hon mirin and shin mirin. The difference lie in the amount of alcohol content. Hon mirin is 14% alcohol while Shin mirin is less than 1% alcohol. Both have almost the same flavor. Mirin is made from steamed mochigome rice, komekoji or rice yeast, and shochu, which is a Japanese liquor. Mixed and fermented makes mirin.

Teriyaki sauce is readily available in supermarkets. But, I make my own. I use soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. If mirin is not available sake and sugar will be just fine. Combine everything. Cook in low heat until sugar is dissolved. That's it. I use the following with my teriyaki preparations.

1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup sake wine
2 tablespoons mirin wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar or muscuvado
Fresh ginger, grated

I do variations sometimes, like using sesame oil or adding honey and toasted sesame seeds. Whatever is available, no matter if it is not authentic, it doesn't matter to me. Because really THAT is my style.

Tonight, I think I am inclined to prepare teriyaki for the family.

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