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Tommy Teriyaki

Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

I’ve been cooking with Teriyaki sauce since, well, I started cooking. When I lived in California, we would pick up this awesome teriyaki sauce from a place called “The Fish King” and used it on just about everything – it was dark, rich, thick, and delicious.

When I began to smoke meats, after moving to the East Coast, one of my earliest recipes was teriyaki beef jerky. This stuff was good, and the folks at work would pester me every day until I brought in a fresh batch. I had one co-worker who would come to visit, sit down, and dig into the bag like it was a happy meal.

“Bernie, don’t eat it all! Leave some for the rest of us”

“But I missed Lunch!”

The problem with making this recipe so often was the amount of sauce I went through - It still came from The Fish King and I bought it in restaurant-sized tubs. However, since it needed to be refrigerated, it had to be hand-carried across the country. My mom would frequently fly between coasts, but not often enough to keep my teriyaki sauce supply healthy.

The answer was, of course, to try to make the sauce myself. Teriyaki, in it’s simplest form, is soy sauce and sugar. From there, recipes branch out and can include garlic, ginger, sake, mirin (sweet japanese cooking wine), onions, molasses, bourbon, and mustard. I tried just about everything, but ended up reverting to the simplest form: Soy and Sugar.

Add a cup of soy and a cup of brown sugar to a small sauce pan – Simmer gently (really – VERY gently – This can easily boil over, and believe me, you will have a mess on your hands), stirring, until the sauce is reduced to your liking. You can easily make more or less, just start with the ratio of 1:1. Some folks like theirs less sweet, and if you fall into this category, decrease the sugar or increase the amount of soy. A quick note on consistency: I like my teriyaki thick, but if you reduce it too much, it will become unmanageable when cool. Reduce to just BEFORE the desired consistency.

For years I would add minced garlic, but I have stopped doing that lately in favor of grated ginger. You could do both, of course, but I found a trick that you will want to use: Add the ginger AFTER it has cooked, while the sauce is cooling – It tastes fresher this way.

Although this sauce is good on fish and beef, I use it almost exclusively on chicken (although you should try it on Salmon!). Usually, if I am invited to a party and need to bring a dish, I grab some chicken wings (and/or wingettes), some teriyaki, and I’m set – Quick, simple, and yummy. Now many recipes tell you to marinate the chicken in the sauce – Be wary of this, as it can actually turn your chicken rubbery and tough. I usually drop the chicken in some sauce 10-15 minutes before it goes on the grill, just enough to add flavor, but not enough to chemically change the chicken. If you want to use some sauce for dipping, please ensure to save some BEFORE the raw chicken goes in for obvious reasons – You don’t want anyone getting sick. I will, however, give the chicken some quick bastes or baths during cooking, but be sure not to do it too late in the process – You want that sauce to cook properly since it has touched raw poultry.

The photo above is of chicken skewers, which are still easy but require a bit more prep time. They do, however, make a better presentation and also help keep guest’s hands cleaner and not so sticky. I’ll take boneless thighs and cut them into half-inch chunks. Thread these onto skewers so they are touching, but not tightly packed. You can even add pieces of green onion for color or to separate the pieces more. If you use bamboo skewers, soak them in water for a half an hour prior to threading, and grill as soon as possible afterwards – You don’t want the skewers to burn.

Be vigilant when grilling either recipe, or for that matter ANYTHING using this sauce, as the sugar will burn quite quickly. I like a little bit of caramelization, but there is a fine line here – Just use your head.

As usual, feel free to experiment with different flavors in your teriyaki. The basic sauce should keep at least a week, covered tightly in the fridge, but in my house it’s usuallygone long before that. Adding garlic, especially raw, will change that so be sure to smell and taste before you use it. In addition, sweet ingredients, such as mirin, may force you to reduce your sugar, and thick ingredients, like molasses, should shorten your simmering time.

Click here for the above recipe!

No, I’m Not Slacking….



….I’m working on the Garden!

Sorry, but the Smoker and Barbie have taken a back seat for a bit – For the last month I have been re-doing the vegetable garden and putting in raised beds:

The New Beds.....
The New Beds…..

Drainage in this space, well, Sucked – So I decided to try something different. However, since it has rained on EVERY ONE OF MY DAYS OFF this month, I’m a bit behind schedule – makes me think I should have built an Ark instead of a bed….

I’ll keep y’all posed.


Goodbye Old Friend…..

Usually friends are warm and fuzzy…I have one friend that is cold as Ice and that’s the way I like her. Unfortunately, last week she started to warm up and I didn’t like her quite as much.

Alas, our 17 year-old Sub-Zero Fridge was failing :(

We inherited her when we bought our house in 2003. The fact that she spent 11 years with someone else didn’t phase me (Except for the previous owner leaving egg shells stuck in the nooks and crannies on the inside). She was a Sub-Zero, after all – The top of the line, cream of the crop, the High School Prom Queen.

She was wide and tall, not unlike myself – Due to the fact that she was counter-depth, flush with everything else in our kitchen, she wasn’t very deep – Again, not unlike myself. But boy could she hold a HAM! She grabbed anything I could throw at her – 2 Turkeys, no problem! 25 lbs of Pork Belly – You bet!

Last week the top shelf started getting warm. The bottom and the freezer were perfect. The first thing I did was vacuum the condenser area to increase air flow, something that should be done every few months anyway. When that did not help, I sought help from the Prophet “Google.” Following some advice, I checked various parts as best I could with my limited experience, but nothing I did could stop the thermometer placed on the top shelf from nearing 60-degrees.

So we called the service repair-man, who specializes in Sub-Zeros. He wasn’t here ten minutes before I heard that dreaded phrase “I have some bad news.”

We trust this outfit, as they have treated us fairly in the past, and he did tinker a bit, but that didn’t change the outcome – $1500 to get my baby back to being an Ice Queen. We could probably get by with $1000, not replacing a couple of the 17 year-old parts that SHOULD be replaced. The main thing was the compressor, but there were also the evaporator, condenser, and fan – The same words the Air Conditioner repair man said later that morning (are they in cahoots?)

“How much to replace it with a new one?” I asked.

“Six Thousand.”

Six Thousand? Are you friggin’ KIDDING me? Now I deeply love my Sub-Zero, but lets get real – SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS? That’s 3244 LBS of Pork Belly (over a ton, and that’s retail!), 214 Liters of Jack Daniels, or 12,000 Krispy-Kremes! I could even have a subscription to The Washington Post until the year 2141 for that amount of money.

For six thousand dollars, that fridge better give me a massage AND wash my windows! I’ll even add another $500 on there if it would clean up the dog poop in the backyard.

So, today, I started the process of measuring, surfing, and note-taking in between the bouts of crying. A quick check of the Best Buy site shows 1,056 models and I was quickly overloaded. Luckily, I can narrow that down due to the fact that I need a counter-depth model – we don’t need the purchase to be the “Elephant In The Room” (real, not proverbial!) The Sub-Zero is currently only 24″ deep, if you can believe it.

There are lots of features on refrigerators now. One that has been around awhile is the ice and water dispenser on the front door – Oh, I long to have that fabulous invention and be brought current into the 1990s! That is a must-have for me. Door Alarm? Yes, please – all too often in our shallow fridge something inches forward and likes to block the door from closing completely; wasted energy at least, wasted food at worst. Then there is the French Door design - Freezer on the bottom, 2 french doors on the top for the fridge – They are so cute! Unfortunately, after looking at the specs, a model with that design and my measurements (I’m talking about the KITCHEN!) jacks the price up to, you guessed it, $6000.

Some of the features seem just to jack up the price – What is a “Chill-Zone Drawer?” Shouldn’t the whole fridge be chilly? Right now I have a chill zone and a warm zone, and I didn’t even have to pay extra. Digital controls….How hard is it to turn a knob, especially since you only have do do it a couple of times a year? “Luxury glass shelves?” They must feed THEMSELVES grapes.

There are a couple of features that I’d like to see. If you can get ice and water through the do0r, why not Beer? I’m not talking about a tap – You can find those in most men’s or airline catalogs. I want a fridge to feed me a bottle through the door. Why waste all that energy opening the door (The fridge’s energy AND mine)? Voice activation would be nice with this feature as well: “Fridge! Beer. Import. Now!” Even better, could it somehow shuttle that beer to the couch? Failing that, maybe a built-in 26″ LCD Screen can be installed as part of the door – God forbid I miss a second of Top Chef! Luckily, for now, I have TIVO. But that brings up another thought – You can order a Pizza through your TIVO, why not a Beer?

OK, so now instead of a $6000 refrigerator, I’m paying $15k for these pipe-dreams. I thought I was supposed to go CHEAPER. I guess I’ll have to do more research, and if any of you have advice on buying a fridge, please let me know by leaving a comment.

In the meantime, we’re still on Deathwatch. I’ve got the DNR order as my beloved Sub-Zero circles the drain.

PS – Where do you Bury a Fridge? It’s not like we’re talking about a goldfish here…..