Sarku Japan - Teriyaki Chicken (Mall Chicken)

     Back in High School, my friends and I would go to the mall and head straight to the food court in search of the free samples of Teriyaki Chicken handed out by the Sarku Japan Restaurant. The sugary, dark brown, crispy, glazed chicken bits, served to us on a toothpick, were absolutely delicious. That small sample almost always prompted us to buy a full order of their Teriyaki Chicken. After many failed attempts, I eventually figured out how to make a pretty close copy of the Sarku Japan Teriyaki Chicken at home.

Sarku Japan serves their Teriyaki Chicken with white rice and vegetables. You can throw just about any vegetable you want into this but I stick with what they typically served it with at the mall: Carrots, Onion, Cabbage, and Broccoli. Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces and layer them into the pot, putting the carrots, onions, and broccoli stalks in first, since they take longer to cook. Add the broccoli florets and cabbage on top, season with the following spices, cover, and cook them on low while you prepare the rest of the meal:

*Be sure to keep an eye on the vegetables and give them a stir every now and then. You don't want to overcook them and lose that fresh crunch.

With the vegetables cooking, you can now start the rice and the teriyaki glaze. For rice, I use Kokuho Rice. I stopped using the cheapest rice I could find at the store a long time ago. Spending the little extra money on good rice is well worth it. Cook the rice to the instructions on the packaging. I also throw in a few other ingredients to improve the flavor:

  • 1/2 TB Sesame Oil
  • 1/2TB Olive Oil
  • 2 Kombu Seaweed Knots (Optional but adds great Umami)
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt

For the sauce, combine the following ingredients into a small saucepan and warm up to dissolve all of the ingredients. You want to be sure that this is not too salty as it reduced down to glaze the chicken. Keep in mind that the flavor of this will be concentrated when reduced, so if it tastes a little weak, it's ok.

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Chicken Bouillon Cube (Alternatively you can use Low Sodium Chicken Stock and omit the water)
  • 1/4 Cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade/Sauce
  • 1 TB Soy Sauce
  • 1 TB Fish Sauce (Optional)
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 TB Honey
  • 1/4 tsp Powdered Ginger (You can use fresh too!)
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder (Not Garlic Salt!)
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 Spice

With the vegetables and rice cooking and the teriyaki sauce/glaze prepared, it's now time to start on the chicken. One mistake I made when I first attempted to cook this was using the incorrect cut of chicken. You'll want to use chicken thighs for this. Although other cuts will taste ok, chicken thighs contain more flavor due to their fat content and the meat crisps up nicely, which is what we're looking for. Make sure to buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I use about 1.5 lbs for 4 servings. Cut up the thighs into bite size pieces, season with the following spices, and mix together with your hands:

  • 1 TB Powdered Ginger (Again, you can use freshly grated ginger if you would like)
  • 1 TB Garlic Powder (Again, not garlic salt! the sauce will provide all the saltiness we need)
  • 1 TB Chinese 5 Spice

Place a large non stick pan onto the stove with the heat on high. Add 1 TB of both Sesame Oil and Olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is shimmering, add a single layer of the seasoned chicken to the pan. I usually do this in two batches because there needs to be space between the pieces to get everything cooked right. Cook one side until brown and crispy and flip. Continue cooking the chicken until it's golden brown and crunchy. Drain the meat, retain the oil, and do the second batch. Once all of the chicken is cooked, drain all of the oil from the pan.

Return all of the cooked chicken to the pan, heat on high for a few moments, and then pour in about 1 cup of the teriyaki glaze. Continue to stir while the glaze bubbles and reduces down. Once the chicken is evenly coated, turn the heat off. Remove the Kombu from the rice, fluff with a fork, and plate with the vegetables.