Teriyaki is a cooking technique used in Japanese cuisine in which foods are broiled or grilled with a glaze of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.
Fish – yellowtail, marlin, skipjack tuna, salmon, trout, and mackerel – is mainly used in Japan, while white and red meat – chicken, pork, lamb, and beef – is more often used in the West. Other ingredients sometimes used in Japan include squid, hamburger steak, and meatballs.
The word teriyaki derives from the noun teri, which refers to a shine or luster given by the sugar content in the tare, and yaki, which refers to the cooking method of grilling or broiling. Traditionally the meat is dipped in or brushed with sauce several times during cooking.
The tare is traditionally made by mixing and heating soy sauce, sake, or mirin; and sugar or honey. The sauce is boiled and reduced to the desired thickness, then used to marinate meat which is then grilled or broiled. Sometimes ginger is added and the final dish may be garnished with green onions.
In North America, any dish made with a teriyaki-like sauce (often even those using foreign alternatives to sake), or with added ingredients such as sesame or garlic (uncommon in traditional Japanese cuisine), is described as teriyaki. Pineapple juice is sometimes used as it not only provides sweetness but also bromelain enzymes that help tenderize the meat. Grilling meat first and pouring the sauce on afterward or using sweet sauce as a marinade are other non-traditional methods of cooking teriyaki. Teriyaki sauce is sometimes put on chicken wings or used as a dipping sauce.