Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken
The word teriyaki is a combination of two Japanese words meaning shine (teri) and broil or grill (yaki). Crock pot teriyaki chicken is neither broiled or grilled, but it is tasty.
For the sake of your family’s health, use a reduced-sodium soy sauce when making teriyaki sauce. If you want to use a bottled teriyaki, look for something without high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives — Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Teriyaki Sauce meets this criteria and is lower in sodium than most bottled teriyaki sauces.
And if you’d like to add a vegetable to the dish, baby bok choy in the slow cooker is delicious.
How to make Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken
2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup sake (or substitute another 1/4 cup soy sauce, see the note below regarding authentic teriyaki)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
OR substitute a bottled sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
4-6 baby bok choy, bases removed leaving individual leaves
Hot cooked rice for serving
Green onions, chopped for garnish
Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Mix together teriyaki marinade ingredients.
Marinate chicken for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, turn frequently.
Transfer the chicken out of the marinade and into the slow cooker. Add the mirin and sugar and mix ingredients to coat the chicken. Cover and cook about 2 hours on HIGH or 4 hours on LOW.
Just before serving, break the chicken into bite sized pieces using tongs or forks, then add the baby bok choy. With the slow cooker on HIGH, cook until bok choy leaves turn bright green and the stalks become slightly translucent, about 5-10 minutes.
Serve over steaming rice, top with green onions and sesame seeds.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow-Cooking cookbook.
Authentic Teriyaki Sauce
According to this blog, traditional Japanese teriyaki sauce is 4 simple ingredients with a 2:2:2:1 ratio, also known as the “golden ratio”: soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. Apparently, “Americanized” teriyaki includes ginger, garlic, and thickeners that are not used in authentic teriyaki sauce.
Depending on where you live, a quality sake can be difficult to find, so feel free to use only soy sauce in the marinade.
More about mirin and sake
What is mirin? Mirin is a syrupy rice wine with a sweeter flavor than sake. It has a lower alcohol and higher sugar content than sake. The sweetness of mirin contrasts nicely with salty soy sauce and it is useful as a glazing agent.
Where can you buy mirin? If you live in a larger city, mirin can be found on the Asian aisle of your regular grocery. Or you can find it at a Japanese grocery store, Asian market, or Amazon. Read mirin ingredient labels to avoid brands using glucose syrup or high fructose corn syrup. Things to look for:
Hon-Mirin or 本みりん — This is “true” mirin without added sugars.
Mirin or みりん — In most groceries, this will be more common than hon-mirin.
Avoid bottles labeled "aji-mirin" — This translates to "tastes like mirin".
Easy purchase: Eden Mirin Rice Cooking Wine is a readily-available brand and recommended by top sources.
What is a mirin substitute? In place of the mirin in the recipe above, you could use vermouth plus 1 tablespoon sugar, or a sweet marsala wine.
What is sake? Sake is a Japanese rice wine used for both drinking and cooking.
Where can you buy sake? You can find drinking sake at Japanese grocery stores or well-stocked liquor stores. Your local grocery store might sell “cooking sake” on the Asian aisle, but just like cooking with white wine, stick to something you’d be willing to drink.