There are some things—condiments especially—that many of us have only known in their store-bought or restaurant-prepared states. The idea that we, ourselves, can make something like mayonnaise or cocktail sauce or barbecue sauce is so simple that it often escapes us.
I received an absolutely gorgeous Rosa Bianca Italian heirloom eggplant last week in my biweekly local farmhouse bushel, and I instantly thought of Chinese-style eggplant, so creamy and soft and swollen with tasty brown sauce, all mixed up with a hot scoop of sticky white rice … I was dead-set on making it.
I looked up a couple of recipes and found some great ones, most of them using a traditional brown garlic sauce. I liked the idea of using something a little sweeter, and the thought occurred to hop over for a little Japanese influence and to try Teriyaki.
I went to add it to my grocery list—I’ve only had it in a store-bought bottle or prepared for me—when I stopped to consider making it myself. I am a homemade head, after all, and always looking for new goodies to add to my aresnal.
Turns out, it’s easy as pie, and if you’re a fan of cooking Asian dishes, you probably already have everything you need.
- Soy sauce. Light, dark, low-sodium; use whichever you’ve got (and like). Keep in mind that the recipe you follow and amount you use will need to be tweaked depending which you pick. You can also opt for tamari.
- Rice wine. The most popular version is Mirin; I like a generic brand with an unpronounceable Chinese name that I found at my local Asian market. If you can’t find or don’t have rice wine, you can substitute a dry Sherry or other white wine.
- Sweetener. Some folks use sugar (white, brown or a mix), I like raw honey. You can use whatever you prefer (agave, stevia, brown rice syrup, etc.).
- Liquid. Now that you’ve got the main components, use a flavorful liquid to thin it out a bit and to bring everything together. Broth or stock are good choices; you could even use fruit juice (pineapple juice is a common addition). If all else fails, water will work too.
- Spices. You could leave your Teriyaki simple and stop there, or you can add a little kick with minced garlic, ginger, chile paste, or fresh minced chile.
The proportions of each of these is about 2 parts soy to 1 part each of rice wine, sweetener and liquid with spices to taste. Start with 2 teaspoons as 1 part and adjust from there.
To make a glaze or a thicker sauce, make a slurry of starch (like cornstarch or arrowroot) with water, and stir that in as your sauce cooks.
Want to give it a try but need somewhere to start? Check the Recipes channel later this week to try our Teriyaki Eggplant.