Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday Tutor: Featuring Just One Cookbook

Teriyaki Chicken Close-up 2
Teriyaki Chicken


Every Tuesday I choose a different friend to be my tutor for a day: I select one of their original recipes, I make the recipe following my friend's instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I scarf down as much as my belt-line will permit - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Read more about the details for Tuesday Tutor
My tutor today is Nami from the beautiful Japanese cooking blog, Just One Cookbook. If you're like me, the thought of cooking authentic Japanese cuisine is not only intimidating, it's downright terrifying! Why? I blame it on Iron Chef America's amazing Chef Morimoto - so many unfamiliar ingredients, such daunting knife skills, such fearsomely beautiful plating techniques and a whole new pallet of intertwined flavors. I was paralyzed by fear and inadequacy.

But then I found Nami's blog. Just One Cookbook has ever-so-slowly chipped away at my fear and resistance with step-by-step recipe photos and instructions, detailed and clear descriptions of unfamiliar ingredients, and Nami's soothing blog style. She carefully walks you through each recipe, strips away the mystery behind ingredients, and provides gentle encouragement no matter what your skill level. Thanks to Nami, I have finally found the confidence to face down my fears and attempt my first authentic Japanese recipe. If you want to dive into the amazing world of Japanese cuisine, I heartily recommend starting with Just One Cookbook.

About the Author: 5 Fun Facts
  1. "I think the skill I am the most talented with is organization rather than cooking.  Probably cleaning comes next, then cooking.  If someone can cook great dinner, I’m happy to do the dishes!"
     
  2. "I used to share one recipe a day on my Facebook and I almost named my blog “365 Dinner Plans”.  I’m glad I didn’t pick that name otherwise my blog probably wouldn't have continued this long."
     
  3. "I’ve been in the US for 16 years.  In 4 years I’d be spending the same amount of time living in Japan and the US.  However, I still haven’t mastered American cooking or baking yet and I need to work on it!"
     
  4. "I have been taking food pictures for a little bit over a year, yet I still get nervous when the photo shooting time comes. I hope I can relax and feel comfortable taking pictures one day."
     
  5. "I often get asked how I manage everything with two kids, and my only answer is I sacrifice my sleep because I don’t want to sacrifice my time with family."
Author's Photo
One of my all-time favorite flavors from Asian cuisine is Teriyaki sauce - a little bit sweet, a little bit tangy, slightly salty and always comforting. So perhaps you might conclude that's the reason I selected this Teriyaki Chicken recipe to be my first attempt at Japanese cuisine. But you'd be wrong. I had another secret motive - skin-on chicken thighs!

I know - it's not a very noble reason for selecting a recipe, but I've never used skin-on chicken thighs and a part of me has always felt deprived, so when I found that Nami had combined with love of Teriyaki sauce with my desire to cook with chicken thighs, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. Besides, the recipe is blissfully simple with easy-to-find ingredients - which seemed a prudent choice for my first go at Japanese cuisine - and the result was amazing!

Original recipe courtesy of Just One Cookbook

Add Peanut Oil to Pan
Start by heating oil in a pan. Nami didn't specify the type of oil, so I used peanut oil.
I also used a non-stick pan because I wasn't sure how sticky the teriyaki would become.

Skin-on Chicken Thighs
I used skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. If you can find boneless chicken thighs,
I'd recommend using them to avoid having to eat around bone

Wrinsing Chicken Thighs
Just rise the chicken...

Pat Chicken Thighs Dry
...and pat dry. Make sure your board is dry so that you don't re-wet the chicken when
returning to the board. If your chicken is too wet, it will splatter badly when it hits the hot oil

Chicken Thighs Ready for Seasoning
Now to season...

Season with Salt and Pepper
Make sure to season both sides of the thicken generously with salt and pepper.
I probably used over a teaspoon of both salt and pepper for 5 chicken thighs

Add Chicken to Hot Pan
Once the oil is good and hot, add the chicken thighs (skin-side down). I used tongs
for safety as I hate when hot oil splashes me, but if you're brave you could use just your fingers

Chicken Added to Hot Pan
Try not to crowd the chicken in the pan and make sure you hear a healthy sizzle each time
you add a piece of meat to the pan. If you don't hear the sizzle, the pan isn't hot enough

Chicken Sizes
You can see my chicken thighs were of various sizes. For even cooking, I recommend trying
to find chicken thighs of approx the same size otherwise the big thighs won't be cooked
when the smaller thighs are ready to leave the pan.

Ingredients for Teriyaki sauce
While the chicken skin crisps, you can make the teriyaki sauce. There's only 4 ingredients.

Low Sodium Soy Sauce
For the soy sauce, Nami didn't specify but I used the low sodium variety
because that's what I had in my fridge

Sake and Mirin
You will also need sake and mirin. I found these as a local Asian food store as the other grocers
in my area did not stock these items. Although the primary labeling is not in English, you can
often the name of the item in English in very small print somewhere on the bottle...

Soy Sauce Added
Add the soy sauce...

Mirin Added to Sauce
...and the mirin...

Sake Added to Sauce
...and the sake...

Stir Sauce until Sugar Dissolves
...and stir until the sugar is dissolved. That's it. Teriyaki sauce.

Turn Chicken when Browned
Check the chicken - if the skin-side is browned, turn the chicken over. Don't be afraid to
really let the skin-side crisp up. When I make this again, I'm letting the skin crisp longer

Chicken Turned
Make sure the pan keeps a nice sizzle even after you've turned the chicken.

Add Sake to Pan
You will add additional sake directly to the pan. If you're working over an open flame,
be careful as sake is a type of alcohol and could ignite

Let Simmer until Mostly Reduced
Just all the sake and juices in the pan to simmer away until most of the liquid is gone
This will probably take 5-8 minutes over medium heat

Continue to Reduce Sauce
I stopped the simmer too early (you can see how much juice was still in the pan) and I should
have let the chicken simmer a bit longer before removing the excess oil/juices

Remove Excess with Paper Towel
Once most of the liquid has evaporated, use a paper towel to soak up the remainder.
I moved the pan off the heat and tilted the pan slightly to allow the chicken to drain

Soak up Excess Liquid with Towel
Tongs really help with this... Just chuck the soaked paper towel in the trash.

Add Teriyaki Sauce to Pan
Spoon or pour the teriyaki sauce over the chicken. I spooned most of it over the chicken
and then drizzled over the remainder at the end

Spoon Sauce over Chicken
As the sauce thickens and reduces, continue to spoon the sauce over the chicken. This helps
keep the chicken moist and creates a lovely glaze as it thickens.

Allow Sauce to Reduce
Continue to simmer the chicken until cooked through - check the smallest pieces first and
remove them from the pan if they are finished before the larger pieces. If you wait until
all the pieces are cooked through, the smaller thighs may be tough and dry

Add Butter to the Pan
At the very end, add a tablespoon of butter. This helps thicken and add a gorgeous sheen to the sauce

Plate Chicken
Homemade teriyaki chicken...isn't that amazing?

Teriyaki Chicken Plated 1
I served the chicken with a side of left-over mashed potatoes and red apple. Although I'm sure
they're not authentic sides, I loved the pairing of all three flavors and textures


Thoughts while scarfing...
  • Nami has made it so easy to make your own Teriyaki sauce, there's no reason to buy the pre-made bottled stuff. Her sauce is deliciously addictive - and I found myself nibbling away at a second (and third) chicken thighs just for the sauce!
     
  • What I love most (besides the flavor of the teriyaki) is how fast this chicken can be prepared - I've never worked with skin-on chicken thighs before, but from start to plate, the recipe took under an hour. And that includes painfully-slow photo-shots, breaking the seals on new bottles of sake and mirin, and washing my hands about 300 times!
     
  • The real trick to this recipe is cooking the chicken all the way through - especially if you're using different sized chicken thighs like I did. Make sure your pan is nice and hot before you add the chicken and don't be afraid to get a really good sear on the skin-side of the thighs. The smaller thighs will be finished before the larger thighs and if your sauce starts to evaporate too quickly, you may want to cover the pan during the final 5 minutes of cooking
     
  • Although I loved the crispy bit of skin and the juicy tenderness of the chicken, the next time I attempt this recipe I plan to use boneless skinless chicken thighs - it's a little bit healthier and the bones were a pain to eat around
     
  • Nami also has another marvelous chicken teriyaki recipe you might consider if you don't want to bother with bones and skin: http://justonecookbook.com/blog/recipes/chicken-teriyaki/

Other Must-Try Recipes from Just One Cookbook
Maybe Teriyaki isn't your thing. But I guarantee you'll find something deliciously inspired from Just One Cookbook. Check out these mouth-watering eats and tell me you're not inspired!

Spicy Shoyu Ramen
Temari Sushi
Garlic Miso Chicken Wings
Green Tea Cookies
Strawberry Daifuku



26 comments:

  1. divine... and a very interesting process too... bet it tasted incredible... mine is coming by the way!

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    1. Dom, it was very good and Nami was a fantastic tutor - I learn so much each time I read one of her posts...

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  2. Nami does have some writing skills when it comes to giving instruction on preparing one of her delicious dishes. Very clear and easy to understand. Outside of that she is an amazing cook, glad you chose her this week for Tuesday tutor!

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    1. Tina, I'm so glad you agree about Nami and I'm glad you enjoyed the post - I have found new confidence in cooking thanks to her blog!

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  3. Hi JW! I was so looking forward to reading your post. Thanks for trying out this recipe and I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it. The skin on chicken thighs come with bone, so I either remove the bone myself or ask the butcher to take it away, so that the chicken is flatter and easier to cook. I also use no skin organic chicken thighs from costco too. :-) Since you have sake, soy sauce, and mirin, you are ready to cook most of Japanese meals! ;-) Thank you again for featuring my recipe!!! Have a great Tuesday JW!

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    1. Nami, it was my honor and pleasure to feature you and thanks for the details about chicken thighs - I'll probably try the boneless/skinless next time, although the bones really DO keep the chicken so moist. And now that I have sake and mirin, I'm itching to try more recipes :)

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  4. Looks delicious! What a neat way to highlight fellow bloggers!

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    1. Thanks Amy - I'm so glad you enjoyed and it's a fun series. I've discovered so many delicious recipes :)

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  5. What a great post...Nami's teriyaki looks amazing (I could have predicted it would be :))...and great Fun Facts! This is a dish my family would enjoy!

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    1. Nami made it do easy for me - which is one of the reasons I love her blog & chose this recipe to be my first go at Japanese. I really wanted a success ;)

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  6. Fantastic! I love homemade teriyaki sauce and was lucky enough to work for a delightful Japanese couple in the 80s.....so I'm a fan! LOVE your step-by-step photos AND this series!

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    1. Ann, wow, I'd love to hear about your experience sometime (more great stories I'm sure) and so glad you enjoyed!

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  7. Replies
    1. It's really so easy too - I hope you have a chance to check out Nami's blog and give one of her recipes a try...

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  8. I adore Nami's blog and I have her Teriyaki sauce recipe to try too! You've inspired me to make it sooner rather than later JW :D

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad - so fast and so easy to make.

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  9. Replies
    1. Thanks Jay :) Credit goes to Nami for such a great recipe.

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  10. Hey this is an excellent post! Very detailed tutorial and a very good recipe too. I have never made this before and it looks ever so delicious.Bookmarking it. You are a young and talented cook. Take care

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    1. Fantastic and do check out Nami's blog - she is a treasure trove of great recipes ;)

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  11. This recipe look really amazing and tasty, I love it, and what nice the towel paper after is cook, I always try to use only a bite of oil and dont use a loiT

    Happy Easter Javelin!

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    1. Thanks so much Gloria and I hope you have a wonderful holiday as well. To clarify, a lot of the liquid in the pan that gets soaked up by the paper towel is juice from the chicken thighs as they cook down. And I really should have cooked off more of the sake before wiping excess out of the pan...

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  12. I love mouth-watering recipes like this using chicken thighs. Great step by step instructions too!

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    1. I'm so happy you like the recipe and all the credit goes to Nami - fortunately, it was so easy I'll be happily making it again :)

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  13. These look delicious ! ... Thanks for sharing - you also did a great job with the pictures

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    1. Thanks for checking it out and I'm so glad you enjoyed...

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