Teriyaki is probably the most known of all Asian sauces. In fact, it is actually a Japanese cooking method, not a sauce! The word teriyaki is a combination the word teri, meaning shine or luster which come from the sugar content of the sauce, and the word yaki, referring to grilling or broiling. Meats are first marinated in and then glazed with the sauce while cooking. It is the sugar content of the sauce that gives it the shine. The sweet and salty soy mixture is truly easy to make as it only has three ingredients, two of which I bet you have on hand right now. A basic teriyaki sauce is soy sauce, sugar or honey, plus sake or mirin* (sweet rice wine) boiled down to a desired thickness; ginger and/or garlic are often added to personalize the flavor. I’ve added a hot sesame oil, as well as some red pepper flakes to bump it up a bit… after all, these are wings, yeah?!
Feel free to experiment with the measurements as everyone has their own taste, or simply get your favorite store brand and add a teaspoon or more of the hot sesame oil. It’s that easy!
*Mirin, is a kind of rice wine similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content; it is available in the Asian section of most supermarkets. Sake can be substituted, but taste the final sauce and add more sugar if necessary.
Spicy Sesame Teriyaki Wings
4 pounds chicken wings
1 1/2 cup homemade (recipe below) or store-bought teriyaki sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sesame oil (or toasted sesame oil + 1/4 teaspoon cayenne)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Thinly snipped chives, for garnish (optional)
Direct heat grilling
Put wings in a large zip-top bag. Stir together the teriyaki sauce and the sesame oil. Reserve 1/2 cup and pour the remaining sauce into the bag with the wings. Squeeze out the excess air and seal the bag. Massage around until everything is combined and coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 to 6 hours.
Remove wings from marinade and shake off any excess; discard the marinade. Allow wings to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes to take the chill off.
Set up your grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. Make sure your grates are cleaned and oiled before you start cooking. Grill for 5 minutes and then flip and baste with reserved teriyaki sauce. Cook 5 more minutes, flip and baste. Repeat every couple minutes until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink at the bone. Total cooking time will be 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove wings from the grill and brush with remaining marinade, if there is any left. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Basic Teriyaki Sauce
makes about 2 cups
1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup mirin or sake
4 cloves garlic. pressed or minced
1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon or until desired thickness. Cool and refrigerate stored in an air-tight container. Teriyaki sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.