One of the characteristics of Japanese cooking is that we use a lot of sugar even for savory dishes, including Teriyaki sauce for chicken.
To make a good Teriyaki sauce, Mirin plays an important role. This is actually a kind of Sake, with alcohol content of nearly 14%. Mirin used to be drunk for certain ceremonial occasions but today mostly used as a seasoning.
Mirin’s sweetness comes from a natural aging of Mochi rice, some over 60 days, others over 1 ～ 3 years. Like balsamic vinegar or cheese, taste is more complex when aged longer and price higher. Its sugar content is as high as 47%.
Mochi rice would get saccharized when mixed with the Koji (rice malt) mold. Mochi Rice is often used for sticky dumplings. It is rich in a special kind of starche (amylopectin) that helps to produce more delicate sweetness.
Sometimes you may find a cheap alternative named ‘ Mirin-taste’ seasoning etc. At many cases they are using Sake or other alcohol with added sugar. They are not properly matured so its sweetness is nothing like Mirin’s. I would rather use Sake & sugar instead of such unkown sweet something.
For cooking Teriyaki chicken, simply grill your piece of chicken and when the skin is crispy enough, add Mirin, soy sauce, sugar etc. Make sure your sauce is nicely caramelized.
This sauce goes really nicely with steamed rice, too. Sometimes my kids love to eat just rice and Teriyaki sauce, leaving their chickens! That is no good for nutrition so I will be cross with them, but I understand why they do that.
I hope my guest from UK also enjoyed their Teriyaki chicken and rice.
Many thanks for coming!