Hello, this is Pocket Concierge Editing Team.
“TERIYAKI” is loved throughout the world today, but do you know how this teriyaki started and how it developed? Today, we‘re going to learn all about our beloved teriyaki and learn why this Japanese condiment spread all over the world.
1. The Origin of ‘Teriyaki’
Teriyaki in Japanese is combined of two words, “shine” and “grill.” As the name denotes, it is a cooking method of grilling food while applying a sweet sauce using soy sauce as a base. The sugar content of the sauce creates the shine on the surface of the ingredient. Yakitori (grilled chicken), eel kabayaki (grilled eel), yellowtail teriyaki, salmon teriyaki, chicken wing teriyaki are some of the common teriyaki food eaten in Japan. Listing out all of the teriyaki-flavored dishes makes me feel that there may not be a week when we don‘t eat a teriyaki-flavored dish!
2. A Simple Recipe to Make Anything Delicious?!
Now it‘s time to learn how to make your very own teriyaki sauce. The sauce is unbelievably easy to make. Just add soy sauce, sugar, sake, and mirin (sweet rice wine) in the same proportion and you‘re done! You can add an original twist by adding some dashi (Japanese broth), decrease the amount of mirin, add a little more sugar, or make the taste stronger by adding more soy sauce.
3. The Globalization of ‘Teriyaki’
It is said that a “Japanse Boom” started around 1958 in the US. Japan was in the midst of the rapidly developing period; the Tokyo Tower had just been built, and the Tokyo Olympics would be held in six years. The Kikkoman International Food Culture Research Center, a subsidiary of Japanese soy sauce giant Kikkoman, invited Ms. Tomi Egami, a cooking expert, to the US. Attempting to spread the use of soy sauce in the US, she introduced a dish that used the condiment in a sauce on a TV show. This sauce, the ‘Teriyaki’, did not exist in the US until then, but as the population was keen on new ways of enjoying delicious BBQ at home or outdoors, its simplicity caught on, and the recipe spread. This is why using soy sauce as a sauce for grilled meat or BBQ is called “teriyaki” in the US.
4. 1973: The Miso-Teriyaki Burger is Born
The beloved “teriyaki burger”, first sold by Mos Burger chain, is credited with sparking the teriyaki boom in Japan. Satoshi Sakurada, the founder of Mos Burger, was living in the US in 1962, the year following Kikkoman‘s introduction of the “Teriyaki Barbeque Marinade.” Upon returning to Japan, he decided to open a hamburger shop suited to the Japanese people‘s taste, and opened the first Mos Burger store in Narimasu in northern Tokyo. Hoping to find affinity with the local tongue, he conjured the “teriyaki burger”, based on the teriyaki flavored hamburger he had eaten back while living in the US. He worked hard to create a sauce that worked, trying different things like adding miso. However, his toil aside, the recipe failed to catch traction when first launched, as the domestic market believed teriyaki dishes were good only with seafood. Eventually however, with the help of high school girls that thought his flavoring was delicious, and the word of mouth, this combination of teriyaki and meat became a staple. Today, this teriyaki burger born in Japan is called the “samurai burger” or “shogun burger“ overseas, and popular as the “Japanese hamburger.”
Fun fact: In a McDonald‘s commercial used abroad, a samurai is shown eating the teriyaki burger. Owing to its popularity, the company even made a dedicated website to the burger when it returned to the menu in 2016, featuring a black-and-white video reminiscent of the famous Kurosawa movies.
McDonald’s Chicken Samurai Burger Advertisement
McDonald’s Samurai Burger Website
5. The ‘Mr Yoshida’s’ Sauce and the US ‘Teriyaki’ Boom
Do you know of a Mr. Junki Yoshida? He was chosen a to be one of Newsweek Japan’s “Top 100 Most Respected Japanese People in the World“ in 2005.
More than 50 years ago, alone, at the age of 19 years, and with only $500 to his name, Mr. Yoshida emigrated to the US. Today, he is known as the man who created the famous “Mr. Yoshida’s” sauce, a mega-hit Japanese barbeque sauce realeased in 1982. Mr. Yoshida originally was a karate teacher to children, having married a local woman after successfully moving to the US. One time, receiving Christmas presents from his students, he had no idea of what to give back, as he had little money to spend. Hoping to give them something however, he decided to recreate his mother’s ‘secret’ sauce; Mr. Yoshida’s mother, the owner of a yakiniku (Japanese style barbeque) restaurant in Japan, used a sauce similar to teriyaki as her specialty. This was the beginning of the original Mr. Yoshida‘s sauce; made by simmering soy sauce, mirin, and sugar for eight hours, this is the epitome of a pure ‘teriyaki’ sauce, in retrospect! Of course, the flavor alone was not enough to make Mr. Yoshida’s a hit; looking to market his new product, the new entrepreneur decided to be original, hosting live cooking events wearing a kimono, geta (Japanse style sandals), and a cowboy hat. Thanks to the founder’s unique salesmanship, Mr Yoshida’s became a huge hit; today, it can be found in almost any supermarket in the US, and is sold in a multitude of other countries as well.
6. ‘Teriyaki’ as a Flavor Loved Around the World
Search “teriyaki” on the popular recipe site, “My Recipe MAGIC” to find countless ‘teriyaki’ recipes! There are
recipes using pre-made sauces like Yoshida‘s as well as those that teach you how to make your own sauce, meat and fish teriyaki dishes, yakisoba, and even teriyaki-flavored sushi rolls. Such abundance of recipes shows how common ‘teriyaki’ is in the households of the US today. And that’s not all! ‘Teriyaki’ has even entered distant locations such as Kenya! The Japanese company that produces Marugame Seimen, a famous udon franshise, has opened a restaurant called Teriyaki Japan in Kenya. Their teriyaki-flavored udon is a huge hit! Take France as another example, where ‘teriyaki’ has entered the instant food realm in a “teriyaki flavored cup noodle” sold by Nisshin. in this way, we see that Teriyaki has truly gone global!
Hopefully, Japanese chefs too will continue in their pursuit of advancing the ‘teriyaki’ recipe; this way, when foreign guests arrive, we may surprise and satisfy as the originators of the worldly ‘teriyaki’ concept.
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