Mastering DIY teriyaki sauce

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If you're still using teriyaki sauce from a bottle, you're doing it all wrong. And you're depriving yourself of the awesomeness that is homemade teriyaki.

I didn't set out to master DIY teriyaki sauce, but my 11-year-old suddenly started craving the stuff. Not even sure where he ate it that it was so good to inspire almost nightly requests for it. But knowing how simple this potent sweet-savory sauce is to make, I refused to buy it. It took a few attempts, but eventually I nailed an incredibly versatile and delicious version.

And by versatile, I mean I slather it on whatever protein I have on hand — chicken, steak, pork or salmon. I've included the basic recipe for the sauce, as well as instructions for using it on each of those dishes. Then, just for fun, I added a slow cooker version of the chicken. Because the only thing better than a delicious chicken teriyaki is a delicious chicken teriyaki that practically cooks itself.

Teriyaki sauce

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons Sriracha (or other hot sauce)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.

Nutrition information per tablespoon: 20 calories; 10 calories from fat (50 percent of total calories); 1 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 210 mg sodium; 4 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 0 g protein.

Chicken: Slice boneless, skinless chicken breasts into thin strips. Add them to the sauce, then refrigerate up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Coat the rack with cooking spray. Arrange the chicken strips in an even layer on the rack, then set under the broiler on the oven's middle shelf for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just starting to brown. Flip the chicken pieces, then cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a small saucepan over medium-high and boil for 3 minutes. When the chicken comes out of the oven, drizzle the boiled marinade over the pieces.

Pork: Substitute pork tenderloin, similarly sliced, for the chicken breasts above and follow the same method.

Steak: Cut a 1 1/2-pound flank steak against the grain into thin strips. Add to the teriyaki sauce and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add a couple tablespoons of canola, vegetable or sesame oil. When the oil is hot, use tongs or a fork to remove the steak from the marinade and add to the skillet. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes. You want it barely cooked.

Add the marinade to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the steak and sauce over rice or noodles.

Salmon: Arrange 4 salmon fillets on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Brush each liberally with teriyaki sauce. Broil on the oven's middle shelf for 1 to 2 minutes, then brush with additional teriyaki. Repeat this process 3 to 4 times, or until the salmon is just cooked and well glazed, a total of about 6 to 8 minutes under the broiler. Garnish with chopped scallions, sesame seeds or both.

Slow cooker chicken teriyaki with carrots

Start to finish: 4 hours 20 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 pound carrots, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks

1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons Sriracha (or other hot sauce)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Cooked white or brown rice

Directions:

One at a time, dredge the chicken breasts through the flour to lightly coat. Shake off any excess.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the oil and butter until hot. Working in batches, briefly sear the chicken breasts on both sides just until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the carrots and onion. In a small bowl, mix together the water, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, Sriracha, garlic powder and ginger. Pour over the chicken and carrots, then stir to coat. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

Serve the chicken and carrots over rice.

Nutrition information per serving: 550 calories; 140 calories from fat (25 percent of total calories); 15 g fat (3.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 170 mg cholesterol; 710 mg sodium; 46 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 56 g protein.

AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is on Twitter and Instagram as @JM_Hirsch. Email him at jhirsch@ap.org


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