chicken / poultry fusion dish

Calamondin-Bathed Chicken Glazed in Teriyaki Sauce

Monday, March 31, 2014Enz F

The name of this recipe might seem odd to you but it was really meant to be like that as a disclosure (and to warn you too) that this is not your typical chicken dish cooked and prepared the traditional teriyaki way. See, I did not have most of the Japanese ingredients ready at hand and so much luxury of time to fan the grill so I tried my very best to be as resourceful and as innovative as possible by looking for substitutes available by chance while attempting to achieve the flavor as close (if not at par) to its authentic counterpart. My apologies to my teriyaki connoisseur friends if this dish might sound to be a crooked version of the original one.

Teriyaki is derived from Japanese words, teri, which means luster, and yaki, referring to the cooking technique of grilling
First off, let us settle and revisit what a legit teriyaki should sound like and agree in a while why do I have to put a bastardized name to this dish. Teriyaki is a popular traditional dish in Japan. The word teriyaki is a combination of two Japanese words “teri”, which means gleam or luster due to the glaze or shiny finish brought by the sugar coating from the sweetened sauce mixture, and “yaki”, referring to the cooking procedure of grilling or cooking by exposing food to the direct radiant heat either over live coals or through electric coils. Therefore, teriyaki is actually a Japanese cooking method of broiling or grilling a meat, soaked in or brushed with a mixture of sweetened brown marinade sauce as glazing. Traditionally, the soaking or basting mixture is a combination of soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar.

The chicken marinated in calamansi or calamondin gave a citrusy kick to the conventional teriyaki
Chicken was initially marinated in calamansi and turmeric; the teriyaki sauce was added as a finishing touch
As confessed, I had no Japanese vinegar wine ready at hand when I thought of preparing a teriyaki dish in an impulse, not even realized of using ready-mix teriyaki sauce that I could easily grab in the nearest store. So instead of sake and mirin, I used the dry red wine that had been long sitting in the shelf for months and the cane vinegar which is a regular commodity in my kitchen. I believe the raw sweetness of muscovado sugar just complemented well with this experiment. And to integrate some Filipino flavor to it, I squeezed a few calamansi or calamondin juice to the chicken that did not only enhance the taste of the meat but also added some mild citrusy kick that one could savor in every bite.

To get rid of the usual coal-grilling or ihaw-ihaw in our local terms, I opted to lightly pan fry the chicken pieces and then poured over my improvised teriyaki sauce until the meat was wrapped up in a thick sugar glaze as a finishing touch. It did not only save me time from assembling my old-fashioned brazier apparatus, taking the talent to sparkle the coal at a controlled glow and then dismantling everything afterwards, but it also spared me from sniffing all the smoke that would have caused my allergic rhinitis attack. I am not so against with the traditional broiling procedure though. As a matter of fact, I do love barbecue and the entire naturally smoky essence that it adds to the dish. That is an added factor that cannot be replicated in frying. But at times, as the need be, we really had to forego of something in exchange of convenience. 

est enjoyed on hot steamed rice with spring onions, toasted sesame seeds and calamansi juice toppings
The manner I marinated the chicken was also quite different. Instead of the usual soaking the chicken meat in the soy sauce and wine mixture (as I have seen in most teriyaki recipe) I rather let it infused first with only the citrus juice and the grated turmeric (no soy sauce and vinegar yet) as I wanted my meat to be really citrusy inside but sweet from the outside. Successfully, it did. I only doused the teriyaki mixture in the latter part of the braising and simmered for a few minutes until the sauce achieved a sugary and thick consistency. While ginger is considered an optional flavoring agent, you might think that turmeric is too pungent for a supposedly delicate flavor of teriyaki but it did an excellent job of giving a boost to the fruitiness and tanginess of calamansi juice. With that, I realized why curries are just so strong and full of flavors as turmeric must be the catalyst that gives that unifying strength to the other spices in it. 

Given all the explanations above, I do hope that I had not stepped on anyone else’s teriyaki ego by labeling my dish as "Calamondin-bathed Chicken Glazed in Teriyaki Sauce". I believe it still served its justice fairly well. The ingredients and methods I used, though in no way could beat the authenticity of the time-honored Japanese teriyaki, just incorporated an interesting twist with a different perspective and different flavors. Just like how different tongues would pronounce a word. As the British would say “WAH-ta” while Americans would have it “wodder”, but all the same, they both simply mean “water”.

Calamondin-Bathed Chicken Glazed in Teriyaki Sauce
Number of servings: 3 to 4

  • 2 lbs. chicken thigh or breasts (bone in and skin on), chopped into serving pieces 
  • 1-inch sized fresh turmeric, peeled and grated 
  • ½-inch sized ginger, peeled and grated 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 4-6 pieces calamansi (calamondin) 
  • ¼ cup cane or white vinegar 
  • ¼ cup red wine 
  • ½ cup soy sauce 
  • 3-4 tbsps. muscovado or refined brown sugar 
  • 1 cup water 
  • ½ tbsp. cornstarch (optional) 
  • ¼ tsp. ground pepper 
  • ¼ tsp. salt 
  • 4 tbsps. spring onion (for sauce and garnishing), finely chopped 
  • 4 tbsps. sesame seeds (for garnishing), toasted 
  • ¼ tsp. calamansi juice (for garnishing, optional) 
  • cooking oil

  1. Chop the chicken into your preferred serving pieces. Rinse thoroughly the chicken meat under running water until all the visible blood is cleansed away. Drain the chicken into a strainer and dry with paper towel, removing any excess water dripping from the meat. 
  2. In a large container, combine the calamansi juice, turmeric, ¼ cup water, garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss in the chicken pieces and mix until the marinade is evenly distributed. It is helpful to lightly prick the meat with fork so the chicken will absorb the liquid mixture. Let it sit in the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes to 3 hours. 
  3. After marinating, remove the chicken from the mixture and shake off any excess pulp of garlic and turmeric. Set aside the used calamansi mixture and pulp for the teriyaki sauce. 
  4. Place a medium saucepan with enough cooking oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, place the chicken chops skin-side down and fry until lightly brown (not golden brown) on both sides. Cook the chicken by batch and do not overcrowd the pan. Set aside the chicken and drain the excess oil with paper towel. 
  5. While frying the chicken, mix the ingredient for the teriyaki sauce mixture. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, red wine, ginger, spring onion, brown sugar, salt, pepper, the used marinade mixture (with the garlic and turmeric pulp) and the remaining water. Stir until well blended and lightly mash in the ingredients with fork to extract all the flavors. 
  6. When frying is done, scrape off the pan any chicken residue (or use a separate clean saucepan) and reduce the amount of cooking oil into ½ tbsp. Return all the chicken in the saucepan and pour in ¾ of the amount of the teriyaki mixture. Set aside the remaining sauce mixture (you can use it later for thickening the sauce with cornstarch mixture). Make sure to coat all the chicken pieces with the liquid sauce. For a finer output, you have the option to filter off the pulps from the liquid mixture. 
  7. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 
  8. When the liquid began to boil, lower the heat to simmer. Stir and flip the chicken pieces occasionally, allowing the chicken to be coated with glaze. 
  9. To finish the teriyaki sauce: For a thicker sauce, whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining soy sauce concoction. Pour in the cornstarch mixture into the teriyaki sauce. Continue simmering until the sauce reduces to your desired thickness. If you prefer a thin teriyaki sauce, just continue cooking to slightly thicken and decrease the sauce. 
  10. Remove from heat and transfer into a serving plate. Garnish with the remaining spring onions, calamansi juice and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy! 

How to toast sesame seeds: 
  • Stove top method: In a wide frying pan over medium heat, spread out about one cap of sesame seeds. Stir or shake the pan continuously for 5 minutes to evenly toast the seeds and prevent from burning. Remove from pan when the seeds become fragrant and the color begins to brown. Allow to cool. 
  • Oven method: Preheat the oven to 300-350ºF. Spread out a cup of sesame seeds on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake the seeds for about 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the sheet occasionally. Remove from oven when they start to brown and become fragrant. Allow to cool. 

  1. Choose the more meaty part of the chicken. You can have it with or without the bone and skin. 
  2. For a more citrusy flavor, add more calamansi and marinate the chicken for a longer time, preferably overnight. 
  3. Try other citrus flavor by using orange, lime or lemon as chicken marinate and add some zest as garnish.

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