Whether it’s charred on a backyard grill, seared in a skillet, or piled atop a disposable plate at a shopping mall food court, salty-sweet, umami-packed chicken teriyaki manages to hit most of the brain’s pleasure centers. But there’s a crucial difference between American versions and those found in Tokyo.
In the States, chicken teriyaki typically features a boneless, skinless cut. But in Japan, cooks use boneless, skin-on thighs. The succulent skin makes a world of difference since it provides more surface area for flavorful browning and for holding a lustrous soy sauce, sugar, and sake glaze. (The skin can also withstand a thorough sear without drying out or toughening.) In fact, we’re willing to bet that skin-on teriyaki will be the best you’ve ever had: savory and juicy—tasting of pure chicken—with a glistening salty, sweet, and savory exterior.
Boneless, skin-on thighs aren't available in most supermarkets, but don’t let that stop you: It’s easy to remove the bone from skin-on thighs at home.
Deboning Skin-On Thighs
Traditional chicken teriyaki is made with boneless thighs with the skin still attached; the skin protects the meat and contributes rich, savory flavor. Most supermarkets don’t sell this cut, but it’s easy to strip out the bones from the thighs yourself. See the recipe for detailed instructions.
Illustration: John Burgoyne
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