Teriyaki (grilling with soy sauce and sugar) (照り焼き)

Teriyaki is a cooking technique used in Japanese cuisine. The method is grilling foodstuffs while coating them with a soy sauce-based sweet sauce ("tare" in Japanese). The sugar contained in the sauce gives gloss ('teri' in Japanese) to the surface of the foodstuff, from which the name of the cooking method is derived. In Japan, the cooking technique is used to cook fish or meat. In other countries, the technique is used mainly for cooking meat.


For teriyaki, meat that is firm and to some extent has some fat is used. Those most typically used include yellowtail and chicken. Examples of fish other than yellowtail include billfish, bonito, salmon, trout, Spanish mackerel, and conger pike.
Recently, Patagonian toothfish is also often used.
As for chicken, delicious teriyaki can be prepared by using either breast meat or dark meat. Other than chicken, pork and beef are also options. Other different types of foods include konjac, squid, meatballs, lotus roots stuffed with meat, and hamburgers are also cooked using the teriyaki method.


The sauce is basically a mixture of soy sauce, sake and sugar all in equal amounts, but the mixing ratio changes depending upon taste or food used. Mirin (a type of sweet sake used in cooking) often substitutes sake. Some people use honey in place of sugar. Grated ginger may be added to the sauce in order to disguise thesmell of the food.

Boil down the sauce in advance until it becomes thick. Stop boiling the sauce when the liquid volume is reduced to almost halve.

Salt the food in advance to remove water and to firm up the flesh of the food. Grill the food in a frying pan or broil it, and then coat both surfaces with the above boiled-down sauce while continuing to cook. Repeat coating with the sauce being careful not to scorch it, so that it becomes glossy. Especially while broiling, keep some distance from the flame until golden brown.

Basically, teriyaki dishes of fish and meat are cooked using the same method.

When cooking chicken, it is advisable to prick the meat several times with a fork before marinating it. It is also advisable to grill first the skin side of the chicken to cook it well.

When using a frying pan, allow the fat to drip out during grilling before coating with sauce.

It is advisable to remove this fat before coating with sauce. By doing so, sauce can penetrate better and also the smell of the food can be removed. Moreover, reducing fat in this way is advantageous in that it can make the dish healthy.
Teriyaki dishes cooked by using a frying pan are sometimes called 'nabe teriyaki' ('nabe' means a pan.)

Most teriyaki dishes taste fairly good even when eaten cold. So they are often chosen as side dishes for box lunches.

Teriyaki outside Japan

Teriyaki is so popular also in the United States that the word "teriyaki" is well established and can be found in dictionaries there. In countries such as the United States, however, "teriyaki" means dishes of meat seasoned with teriyaki sauce before grilling. The cooking method is different from that of Japanese teriyaki in that it does not involve a step of making the meat glossy. In the United States, generally, foods is marinated with teriyaki sauce and then heated, or grilled and then dressed with teriyaki sauce when served. For these differences, prepared meals are often indicated in katakana (one of the Japanese syllabaries) to distinguish them from Japanese teriyaki meals in the Japanese language.

Even some restaurants not particularly specializing in Japanese cuisine serve teriyaki meat dishes.

Also supermarkets sell teriyaki sauces in bottles. For the Japanese palate, however, since such teriyaki sauces used in foreign countries often taste too sweet or too spicy, Japanese people perceive teriyaki dishes of foreign countries as different from Japanese teriyaki dishes. Since the differences are not known outside Japan, such teriyaki dishes are widely believed to be genuine Japanese cuisine.

Teriyaki sauce

In the United States, although teriyaki sauce is sometimes prepared by mixing soy sauce and other seasonings like in Japan, ready-made sauces are generally used in most restaurants and home cooking. Seasonings unique to Japanese cooking such as mirin and sake are not used in American teriyaki sauces, and instead, ingredients such as western liquors, garlic and sesame, which are uncommon in the traditional Japanese teriyaki sauce, are often used to prepare teriyaki sauces. Other than soy sauce and sugar, there are few ingredients common between the American teriyaki sauce and the Japanese one. Simply, barbecue sauces with a sweet taste are sometimes referred to as teriyaki sauces.

What gave birth to teriyaki sauce in the United States was sales of soy sauce started by one of Japan's soy sauce manufacturers, Kikkoman Corporation, in 1957, the first in the United States. Since the use of soy sauce was not widely known to American people at that time and Japanese cooking was not widely popular, sales of soy sauce were stagnant. A Kikkoman salesman, a second generation Japanese American, Tam YOSHINAGA, inspired by a Japanese teriyaki dish of fish which was prepared by his mother, invented the American version of soy sauce-based teriyaki cooking method that went well with meat. The cooking method using the teriyaki sauce gradually became widespread in the United States through cooking classes hosted by Kikkoman, sales promotion brochures and to gain the popularity it enjoys today. In the United States, even today, most soy sauce consumed is used in teriyaki cooking while very little is used in genuine Japanese cooking.

Teriyaki burger

A teriyaki burger is a Japanese-born burger sandwich with the burger patty seasoned with teriyaki sauce.

[Original Japanese]