Teriyaki Stir Fry

Teriyaki Stir Fry

Teriyaki Stir-Fry: A Flavourful Journey Through the Art of Asian Cuisine


Teriyaki stir-fry is a culinary delight that combines the savoury flavours of teriyaki sauce with the freshness of stir-fried vegetables and your choice of protein. This dish, rooted in Japanese cuisine but popular worldwide, offers a perfect balance of sweet and salty, with a hint of umami. The combination of tender, succulent meat or tofu, vibrant vegetables, and the rich teriyaki sauce is a testament to the versatility of Asian cuisine and the art of stir-frying.

In this article, we will explore the history of teriyaki, the art of stir-frying, the components of a traditional teriyaki stir-fry, and provide a step-by-step guide on how to prepare this delightful dish. So, let's embark on a culinary journey through the world of teriyaki stir-fry.


The History of Teriyaki

To fully appreciate teriyaki stir-fry, it's essential to understand the origins of teriyaki itself. The word "teriyaki" comes from the Japanese words "teri" (glossy) and "yaki" (grilled or broiled). The method of cooking teriyaki dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868) in Japan, where it was primarily used for preserving and flavouring fish.

The traditional teriyaki preparation method involved marinating fish in a mixture of soy sauce, sake, and mirin (a sweet rice wine) before grilling it over an open flame. The combination of the soy sauce's salty richness, the mirin's sweetness, and the sake's umami created a delightful glaze that gave the dish its iconic glossiness.

In modern times, teriyaki sauce has evolved, and it is no longer limited to fish. Chicken, beef, pork, and tofu are common alternatives. The sauce has also seen variations that incorporate ingredients like garlic, ginger, honey, and sesame oil, adding layers of complexity to its flavour profile.


The Art of Stir-Frying

Stir-frying is a cooking technique that originated in China and has since become an integral part of many Asian cuisines, including Japanese. It involves cooking small, uniform pieces of food quickly in a hot pan or wok, often with a small amount of oil. The primary objective of stir-frying is to retain the natural flavours, colours, and textures of the ingredients while imparting a smoky, wok hei (breath of the wok) aroma.


Here are some key principles of successful stir-frying:

  1. High Heat: Stir-frying is all about high heat. The intense heat cooks the food quickly and seals in the flavours, creating that signature smoky aroma.
  2. Uniform Cutting: Ingredients should be uniformly cut into small, bite-sized pieces to ensure even cooking. This also makes for a visually appealing dish.
  3. Proper Sequence: Ingredients are added to the wok or pan in a specific sequence, typically starting with aromatics like garlic and ginger, followed by protein, and then vegetables. This ensures that everything cooks evenly.
  4. Constant Tossing or Stirring: Frequent tossing or stirring prevents food from sticking to the pan and allows even cooking. It also helps in achieving that coveted wok hei flavour.
  5. Minimal Oil: While a small amount of oil is used, stir-frying is not a deep-frying technique. The focus is on quick cooking with minimal oil.


The Components of Teriyaki Stir-Fry

A traditional teriyaki stir-fry consists of four main components:

  1. Protein: Chicken, beef, pork, prawn, or tofu are commonly used as the protein base for teriyaki stir-fry. The protein is typically marinated in teriyaki sauce to infuse it with flavour.
  2. Vegetables: An array of vegetables adds colour, texture, and nutrients to the dish. Common choices include bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, and onions. The choice of vegetables can be customised according to personal preferences.
  3. Teriyaki Sauce: The heart of the dish, teriyaki sauce, is a harmonious blend of soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar (or a sweetener like honey), and often garlic and ginger. It provides the sweet, savoury, and umami elements that make teriyaki stir-fry so enticing.
  4. Rice or Noodles: Teriyaki stir-fry is typically served over a bed of steamed rice or noodles. These serve as a neutral base to soak up the delectable teriyaki sauce and complement the flavours of the dish.


Step-by-Step Guide to Making Teriyaki Stir-Fry

Now that we've explored the history, principles, and components of teriyaki stir-fry, let's dive into the step-by-step process of making this mouthwatering dish.



For the Teriyaki Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

For the Stir-Fry:

  • 450g protein (chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or tofu), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables, sliced or julienned
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Cooked rice or noodles for serving


  1. Prepare the Teriyaki Sauce:
    • In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar or honey, minced garlic, and grated ginger.
    • Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar (or honey) dissolves and the sauce slightly thickens. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
    • Once the teriyaki sauce has thickened to your desired consistency, remove it from heat and set it aside.
  1. Marinate the Protein (if desired):
    • If you want to infuse more flavour into your protein, place it in a bowl and pour about 1/4 cup of the prepared teriyaki sauce over it.
    • Allow the protein to marinate for 15-30 minutes, depending on the type and thickness of the protein. This step is optional but highly recommended for extra flavour.
  1. Stir-Fry the Ingredients:
    • Heat a large sauté pan or wok over high heat. Once it's hot, add 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
    • Add any aromatics like minced garlic and ginger at this stage for a quick sauté.
    • Add the marinated protein to the pan, spreading it out into a single layer. Cook until the protein is seared and cooked through, stirring occasionally. This should take 3-5 minutes for most proteins.
    • Remove the cooked protein from the pan and set it aside.
  1. Stir-Fry the Vegetables:
    • In the same pan, add a bit more oil if needed.
    • Add the sliced or julienned vegetables, starting with the ones that take longer to cook, such as carrots and broccoli. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until they begin to soften.
    • Add the remaining vegetables and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes or until they are crisp-tender. You want the vegetables to maintain their vibrant colours and crunch.
  1. Combine Everything:
    • Return the cooked protein to the pan and pour the teriyaki sauce over the entire mixture.
    • Stir everything together, ensuring the protein and vegetables are well coated in the sauce.
    • Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to heat everything through and let the flavours meld.
  1. Serve:
    • Serve the teriyaki stir-fry over a bed of steamed rice or noodles. Garnish with sesame seeds, sliced green onions, or chopped cilantro for added flavour and presentation.


Variations and Tips

  1. Customise Your Protein: Feel free to use your protein of choice. Chicken, beef, pork, and prawn are popular options, but vegetarians can enjoy tofu or tempeh.
  2. Get Creative with Vegetables: Experiment with a variety of vegetables based on your preferences and what's in season. Try adding mushrooms, baby corn, courgette, or water chestnuts for added texture and flavour.
  3. Adjust Sweetness: You can control the level of sweetness in your teriyaki sauce by adding more or less sugar or honey. Adjust it to suit your taste.
  4. Add Heat: If you like a little kick in your teriyaki stir-fry, consider adding a pinch of red pepper flakes or a drizzle of sriracha sauce.
  5. Don't Overcrowd the Pan: When stir-frying, it's crucial not to overcrowd the pan. Cooking in smaller batches allows for proper searing and cooking.
  6. Serve with Sides: Teriyaki stir-fry pairs well with sides like miso soup, seaweed salad, or edamame for a complete Asian-inspired meal.


Teriyaki stir-fry is a delectable fusion of Japanese and Chinese culinary techniques that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people around the world. With its harmonious blend of sweet and savoury flavours, along with the art of stir-frying to perfection, this dish represents the epitome of Asian cuisine.


Whether you choose to prepare it with chicken, beef, pork, prawn, or tofu, and an assortment of vibrant vegetables, teriyaki stir-fry allows for endless customisation and a wholesome meal that is both delicious and visually appealing. So, roll up your sleeves, fire up that wok, and embark on a culinary journey to explore the wonders of teriyaki stir-fry in your own kitchen. Your taste buds will thank you for it.

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