I just got back from Japan. Mr T and I had a big eating trip and I only had Teriyaki once. The only time I had teriyaki was when we had yakitori. Even then, it was a yakitori chain. This made me curious: Is teriyaki an authentic Japanese ingredient or a western invention of an eastern cuisine, just like admiral chicken in the US?
I could not find any official source but all my googling leads me to the definition of “Teriyaki”as a cooking method where meat are marinated in seasoned soy sauce and grilled. One thing for sure Teriyaki is a Japanese word. “Teri” refers to the shiny coat on the meat created by the sugar in the sauce and “Yaki” means grilled.
Some articles alluded to the fact that it is created outside Japan by Hawaiians of Japanese descent. Others suggested is a cooking method invented in Japan during 17th century, when Japan underwent an urbanisation. During this time, they were exposed to new ingredients and new cooking technique which give rise to “teriyaki”. In any case, Teriyaki was not as widely featured (almost non-existent) in Japan as compared to outside Japan.
Anyway, I have always make my own Teriyaki sauce ever since I got Harumi Kurihara cookbook – Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking. Teriyaki sauce is easy to make. It can be made in a batch and store in an airtight container for weeks. The sauce can be to marinate meat, fish and even Tofu or even used on stir fry to spruce up a quick mid-week meals.
She has simplified Japanese home cooking making it possible for non-Japanese to create japanese dishes outside Japan. I recommend anyone who is interested in cooking homely Japanese food to check out the recipes.
Cooking time: 5 mins
Preparation time: 5 mins
1/2 cup Mirin
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 – 1.5 tbsp brown sugar (depending on how sweet you prefer)
- Pour mirin into a pot and cook over low hear for 1-2 minutes
- Add brown sugar and soy sauce into miring and cook for another minute or so, or until desired consistency
- For thicker consistency, simply cook for a longer time over low heat
- This seemingly easy recipe relies on japanese soy sauce – kikoman
- Using brown sugar will give the teriyaki sauce more character with a smokier flavour as compared to regular castor sugar
- If mirin is not available, rice wine can be used as a substitute
As I was sitting down to start a list of fusion places, I could not think of a place that I would mention and I decided to create something of my own. I recalled my mum’s tip on adding coconut oil into rice to make coconut rice! I was inspired to make Ikan Bakar (spicy grilled fish, popular in Malaysia and Singapore) with salmon. That’s how Salmon Nasi Lemak was born.
I first made this out of convenience and only added coconut oil into rice. The cooked rice smelled alot like the coconut rice from nasi lemak, with the coconut fragrance infused in the rice it tasted like a milder version of the nasi. I realised there is potential in creating a healthier nasi lemak by eliminating the coconut milk (saturated fat!) from the rice. I tweaked the rice on the second attempt and added pandan leaves, ginger and garlic to oomph up the rice. So, I guess I can call it low fat nasi lemak afterall
I have also simplified the dish further by using store bought chili. As Nigella Lawson has once said, there is no shame in using store bought if you are rushed for time.
This dish is so easy to prepare and it looks like is bought from “that famous nasi lemak place” when put together. Let’s now channel your inner Malaysian and have fun preparing the dish.
The Rice (nasi)
- Tie up 5 pandan leaves
- Slice about 5 cm thick of ginger
- Unpeel 4 garlic cloves
- Wash 2 cups of rice
- Add pandan leaves, ginger, garlic cloves and 5 tablespoons of coconut oil into rice
- Cook rice
The peanuts and anchovies (kacang and ikan bilis)
- Dry roast peanuts, until it turned slightly brown and the skin starts peeling off. Put peanuts aside.
- Add oil into pan
- When oil is hot, add ikan bilis (anchovies) and fry until is crispy.
- Add sambal chili into anchovies and stir fry it for a minute, until the ikan bilis is evenly coated. Putikan bilis aside.
The long beans
- Chop up the long beans to shorter strips
- Heat up 2 tablespoon of oil
- Add long beans into oil and stir fry
- Add half a glass of water and close the lid of the pan for about 5 minutes or when the long beans soften
- Open lid and put the long beans aside
Salmon – the hero
- Rub tamarind and chili paste all over salmon
- Wrap salmon with aluminium foil tightly. (The aluminum foil keeps the moisture in)
- Place in a baking tray
- Bake at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the salmon turns pink (salmon cooks quicker than chicken)
Then assemble the ingredients together on a plate! Ta-da!
- Deep fried ikan billis without chili sambal or for healthier option, simply boil the long beans
- Instead of using sambal chili, be adventurous and try a different curry paste. There are ones that are made for fish curry, those would be interesting to try. There are also paste made specially for ikan bakar (barbecue fish)
Recently, I’m in a reading craze. Since moving to Singapore, I am now working from home. It sounds really silly but I am afraid oflosing touch with the outside world. This is almost impossible when I have high speed internet at home and random facebook postings informing me the state of the world with the likes of Donald Drumpf (hehe), what horrible things you will catch if you have the packet of instant noodles made from a third world country etc
So anyway, I decided, yes – let’s start reading. I want to continue to grow and I want to feel inspired! Yes – I will get war and peace, only to realise… is over 1000 pages. Ok, maybe something… lighter. Over the weekend, I watched Anthony Bourdain latest series “The Layover”. He went to a bookshop in New York specialising on books about food. He shared a few of his favourite books and he has inspired me to compile my own list of books about food (that are not recipes!). So here goes…
I would start my gastronomy journey braving my way through the noise, stink and dirt of Les Halles in the late 1800s with The Belly of Paris, to experience the hustle and bustle and to view the amazing array of fresh produce from the french countryside.
I would then begin my literary feast with Salt: A history of the world before sinking my teeth into Food in history.
After all the savoury readings, I would quench my thirst with The Brewer’s tale: A history of the world according to Beer and slowly work my way through Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures.
I am curious what the world most expensive wine is like and I will find out in The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine, then go light again with Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
It’s time for me to sober up with Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World and finish up with a fun read of The Devil’s Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee.
Here’s a preview
I think I’m full for now. .