Did you know that “teri” means shining and “yaki” means grilled in Japanese?
Teriyaki chicken was the first meal I enjoyed as a kid that wasn’t pizza, grilled cheese or chicken nuggets. I was nine years old the first time I had it. It was at a friends’ birthday party at a hibachi restaurant (where you sit around a table with a grill and a chef makes all the food in front of you). After that, I was hooked on (Americanized) Japanese food. It’s even my personal tradition to eat Japanese food (or Japanese fusion cuisine) on my birthday.
You can imagine my excitement when I showed up to a cooking class in Japan (as the only student that day!) and found out I’d learn how to make authentic teriyaki chicken. When I tried it at home with tofu, I was pumped that the flavors and textures still worked!
The ingredients in this meal aren’t too different than what we usually use in our other recipes! But the method is somewhat new: sear the marinated tofu, pour in the sauce and let it thicken. That’s how we’ll get amazing color on the tofu and get it to look shiny.
The rice and veggies are pretty standard!
Here’s what you can change
- Use tempeh or seitan. The method stays the same!
- All the veggies can be changed! I used bok choy in my first version and broccoli/carrots (as written below) in the other versions. You can use up any veggies you want in this meal! Snap peas, bok choy, greens, cauliflower, zucchini and green beans are all great options.
- Use any rice or grain you’d like! I’ve been using short-grain rice for these Japan-inspired meals, but it’s pretty expensive so I suggest sticking with long grain rice or any grain you like best. Noodles are also an option!
This recipe pairs well with miso soup. Recipe here!
Authentic Japanese ingredients to use in this recipe
If you have access to Asian markets and want to really commit to this style of cooking, here are some recommendations:
- Get cooking sake or rice wine (if you’re cool cooking with alcohol)
- short-grain Japanese rice (aka sushi rice)
- lotus root for stir-frying with the veggies (it’s crisp/crunchy to the bite and kind of sweet!)
Here’s the meal this recipe was based on:
Storage & reheating notes
This meal can last in the fridge for up to 4 days. I didn’t test it in the freezer, but I think it would freeze ok if you freeze the elements separately! It’s best when reheated in the microwave or on the stove.
Teriyaki Tofu, Greens & Rice
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
- Chicken & marinade
- 1 TBSP soy sauce
- 1 TBSP mirin
- 2 TBSP water
- 14 oz package of firm tofu pressed and sliced into "steaks"
- 3 TBSP vegetable oil for cooking the tofu
- 3/4 cup rice sub grain of your choice
- 1-1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Teriyaki sauce
- 4 TBSP soy sauce
- 3 TBSP mirin
- 2 TBSP honey plus more to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 TBSP rice vinegar *sub 2 TBSP cooking sake
- 1/4 cup water *sub 3 TBSP water if using cooking sake
- 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 1 inch ginger minced or grated
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 head broccoli chopped into small florets
- 3 carrots sliced into rounds (not too thick so they can cook faster)
- 1 TBSP soy sauce
- 1 green onion thinly sliced, for serving (optional)
- Marinate the tofu: Mix the soy sauce, mirin and water in a zip-top bag. Add the tofu to the bag and gently toss to coat. Set aside for 20 minutes, flipping halfway to marinate each side evenly.
- Cook the rice: add the rice to a pot with the water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes on low heat. Then turn the heat off and let the rice steam for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then keep covered until you're ready to assemble.
- Prepare the sauce: add the soy sauce, mirin, honey, salt, rice vinegar (or cooking sake), water, garlic and ginger to a measuring glass. Stir well to combine. Taste the mixture. If you want it to be sweeter, add more honey. If you want it to be saltier, add more soy sauce.
- Cook the tofu: Remove the tofu from the marinade and pat it dry with a paper towel. Heat up a nonstick skillet over a medium flame for 2 minutes, then add the vegetable oil and let it heat up for at least another minute. Splash a little water in the pan. If it sizzles, it's ready. Carefully add the tofu to the pan, (I wouldn't put more than 4 pieces in at a time to avoid overcrowding) and cook for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat (we want to get a good color on these!). Gently flip and repeat. When the tofu has color on both sides, add the sauce over medium heat (if cooking in batches, add half the sauce). Let the sauce simmer and thicken for about 5 minutes, carefully flipping the tofu periodically to coat it in the sauce. After a while, most of it will evaporate! Set the tofu aside when it's done. Feel free to brush the tofu with extra sauce in the pan.
- Wipe the pan out if needed, then return it to the stove. Add the olive oil and chopped broccoli and carrots along with a splash of soy sauce. Stir fry over medium-high heat for 7 minutes, until the veggies are tender-crisp.
- Assemble: Divide the rice between three containers, followed by the veggies and tofu. Top with green onion if desired/if you have any!