This week, we’re putting a spin on basic grilled chicken with a recipe for grilled teriyaki wings.
With “teri” referring to shine or luster, the word "teriyaki" likely conjures thoughts of a glossy, sticky-sweet sauce that you often find coating chicken and steak. But there is one important component missing to that thought, and that’s the “yaki” portion of things. "Yaki" refers to the method of grilling or cooking over direct heat. Together, teriyaki is a dish composed of grilled meat or seafood coated in a tare (sauce), which is generally made using soy sauce and two types of rice wine: mirin and sake.
Food historians believe that the origin of teriyaki (along with yakitori) dates back to 17th-century Japan, when urbanization led to the introduction of new cooking methods and ingredients. In Japan, you'll often find teriyaki dishes made with fatty seafood, including yellowtail, tuna and eel. In the 1960s, Japanese restaurants began popping up in America, and teriyaki dishes made with chicken, beef and salmon became popular. Today, any dish made with a teriyaki-like sauce is described as teriyaki, whether it’s grilled, fried, steamed or broiled.
In America, sugar or honey is often added for extra sweetness, with other common ingredients including garlic, sesame oil and ginger. The sauce can be brushed onto the meat, seafood and poultry as it is being grilled, tossed on afterward or used as a marinade.
With such simple ingredients, giving regular old grilled wings a teriyaki-punch seems like an obvious evolution. So make it one. This recipe, from Mark Bittman, combines soy sauce, mirin, garlic and ginger to make a beyond-easy sauce for the grilled wings. Feel free to spice up the basic sauce as desired.
Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Wings
3 pounds of chicken wings
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup mirin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
Cut 3 pounds of chicken wings into three sections; save the wing tips for stock. Toss the wings with a little neutral oil to keep them from sticking.
Heat a charcoal or gas grill; the fire should be moderately hot and the rack four to six inches from the heat. Leave one side of the grill cooler for indirect cooking.
Put the wings on the cool side of the grill. Cover the grill, and cook, checking and turning once or twice, until most of the fat has been rendered and the wings are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
While the wings cook, combine soy sauce and mirin (or 1/4 cup honey mixed with 1/4 cup water) in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it boils, turn off the heat and stir in garlic and ginger. Let cool.
When the wings are cooked, put them in a large bowl with the sauce, and toss to coat. Now put the wings on the hot part of the grill, and cook, uncovered, turning as necessary, until they’re nicely browned on both sides.