We live on the top of a hill a short walk from a small strip mall with a grocery store and a few restaurants, along with a few other stores. When a weeknight gets especially hectic, our go to dinner has been to walk over and pick up teriyaki.
Chicken teriyaki is a meal we can always agree on, so I decided to make it for dinner instead of picking up take out.
I made it once before when we were first married and I didn’t really know how to cook and it didn’t turn it so well. Since then, I’ve gotten a lot better and most of my dinners turn out pretty darn good.
Since we have a toddler, my afternoons tend to be pretty busy with him and are generally the reason for ordering dinner instead of making it ourselves.
At 2.5 years old, my son isn’t old enough to make his own meals yet, but he loves to help cook. Teriyaki chicken is a straight forward recipe and one that was easy to include him, though it did take quite a while longer than it would have by myself.
I feel strongly that kids should learn how to cook early on so that it becomes a normal part of life and something they are comfortable doing once they move out on their own. Granted, we have quite a while until he moves out, it’s never too young to instill in him a love of cooking.
We stopped at the grocery store for a couple things after I picked him up at preschool, but we were still home and unloaded by 3:30PM. A huge perk of cutting back my work hours is the time to cook dinners from scratch on a weeknight. Even better when I can get my son involved and it’s an activity we do together.
Teriyaki Chicken with Stir Fried Vegetables (serves 6)
Ingredients for the chicken:
- 2 LB chicken breast or thigh
- 2 TBSP sesame oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1.5 TBSP ginger (freeze dried)*
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 TBSP corn starch
- 1.5 cups rice (dry)
I prefer to use Litehouse Instantly Fresh Freeze Dried Ginger over powdered ginger because it has a more robust taste. The same goes for garlic if I don’t have any fresh cloves (which is rare these days since we grow so much garlic). If you’re using dried, substitute out as 1.5 TSP.
Ingredients for the stir fried vegetables:
- 4 cups broccoli (I use both the florets and part of the stem in small sticks like this
- 1 carrot
- 6-8 cloves of garlic
- 1 TBSP sesame oil
- 1 TBSP chili oil (can go heavy or light depending on tolerance for spice)
1. Heat up seasame in frying pan and add salt and peppered chicken. Cook on medium – medium high heat until chicken is nicely browned on both sides and cooked through.
2. While chicken is cooking, mix brown sugar, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Add corn starch slowly and mix thoroughly until it is fully dissolved.
3. Once chicken is fully cooked, remove from heat and let cool. Slice into strips and add to sauce mixture. Put in fridge to marinate for 2-4 hours (though it’s still quite good if you don’t have time and have to skip this step).
4. Right before starting the vegetables, start rice cooking. Key to fluffy rice is LESS water than the instructions give. Trust me, it’s taken years to get this one right. Put in less than you think you need and add an extra 1/8 cup as necessary if it’s really needed.
5. Once rice is cooking, add chicken and sauce back to frying pan and cook on medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking. This step is to cool down the sauce and get it to thicken up. Otherwise, the chicken is ready to eat.
Vegetables (start them once the chicken has marinated and you want to eat soon):
1. Add sesame oil and chili oil to frying pan, heat up to high.
2. Slice up broccoli and carrots and mince garlic.
3. Add vegetables to HOT frying pan. Stir frequently so they don’t burn but you want to brown them well – think Mongolian grill or wok.
Once vegetables are cooked, dinner is ready. Serve vegetables mixed or separate from chicken and rice.
To be honest, the bar of “better than our local teriyaki restaurant” was not very high because they are actually pretty mediocre. There are a ton of great ones in our city, but they would involve driving, so we generally just accept okay and go to the one we can walk to.
Even take-out teriyaki costs us close to $30 for the three of us, so buying mediocre food really isn’t a great choice.
Conversely, this recipe I made yesterday was AWESOME, and again we had no leftovers (between the large portions eaten by my husband and our roommate – in theory you should get more than 4 servings out of this unless you are serving teenagers or hungry men).
In the future, I plan to make larger batches of the chicken and store them in the freezer and then it will be an even easier quicker and easier meal. If it is easier and faster than take out, then we can stop eating expensive mediocre teriyaki and eating much tastier food made from scratch.
If you don’t have one, I would highly recommend a vacuum sealing food saver for freezer items. We use it mostly for fresh caught fish, prepped stews, and steaks. We used to buy large cuts of beef from Costco and then cut them up in steak size and season them before having them vacuum sealed for future dinners.
Since we now have a quarter of a cow in our freezer, we aren’t buying and vacuum sealing beef, but we still use it regularly for other things. And from here on out, I expect to use it to keep emergency teriyaki chicken on hand as well.
Recipe inspiration initially came from here.