The Great Teriyaki Steak Showdown

Cook Date: April 21, 2021

Last summer, I made teriyaki steak from Simply Recipes. It wasn’t great. Carla asked if I couldn’t just buy a bottle of teriyaki marinade this time. What? Is that even possible? So we set up a showdown. We divided a long skirt steak and marinated one half in a bottled sauce, and the other in an updated marinade from my last attempt.

As for the problems with the original marinade, I think 2 of the ingredients could be improved. Now, given that marinade has only five ingredients – saki, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, and grated ginger – that is almost half of the sauce.

Back then I used Kikkoman Aji-Mirin Sweet Cooking Rice Seasoning. A while back this liquid changed its name from wine to seasoning. I was puzzled by this at the time, but moved on. Then in November, while researching another recipe, I ran across a great post from Amanda Biddle of the Striped Spatula on Chinese ingredient pantry essentials. One of the essentials is Shaoxing Wine which should be used instead of that seasoning stuff. For the mega-mart cooking oil the seasoning stuff has a lot of salt in it which renders it undrinkable. The brand Amanda recommended is a real wine. In recipes where I would have used the “seasoning” product and have been delighted in the improvement. She no longer has the picture of the bottle she used, but you can see my picture of the product here (the tall bottle 3rd from the left).

(NOT THE MARINADE) Essential Chinese pantry ingredients.
Shao Xing rice wine is the tall bottle.

If you are shopping for this at an Asian grocery, take the picture with you, I was amazed at the number of similar looking bottles there were on the shelf. With precious few western words the picture helped me.

So, I knew I could improve that 20% of the marinade. I loved the cup/container for the saki I used back then, but when I tasted it, it just didn’t push my buttons.

Saki used in my last attempt at teriyaki steak.

So, this time, I opted for a dry saki I have used before.

Homemade teriyaki steak marinade ingredients.
Homemade teriyaki marinade ingredients

With those two substitutions, I whirled the ingredients in our small food processor and was ready for the challenge.

Homemade teriyaki marinade

I also used about a cup of the store bought.

Bottled teriyaki sauce for half of the steak challenge
Yoshida teriyaki marinade

They each went in their own bag for about 4 hours. When they came out, they looked very different from one another.

Homemade marinade (top) and bottled)

One thing is for sure; they would taste different. I fired up the grill to its hottest temp and waited for it to come up to temp. Then cooked on each side for 3 minutes.

Bottled teriyaki stead marinade (top); homemade (bottom)

Now that is a big difference. The Yoshida sauce has a lot of sugar in it which explains its dark color. While the steaks rested, I simmered the two marinades to make a sauce.

Homemade sauce being reduced
Yoshika sauce being reduced.

If you know how to carve skirt steak, move on to the next paragraph. If you slice this steak wrong, you’ll end up with one of the toughest pieces of meat you’ve ever had. I cut each of the steak halves into three pieces with the grain, across the short way. Then I thinly sliced each of those 3 pieces across the grain.

Carved teriyaki steak

You can tell it’s carved correctly, when the cross section looks like this: all those fibers are have been cut across.

Correctly carved skirt steak.

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served: Teriyaki steak with salad and rice.

Matchup result: Neither of these were fantastic. The Yoshida marinade produced a beautiful dark cut of meat still tender on the inside. But it is way too sweet for my tastes; I couldn’t taste much beyond the sweetness. The homemade marinade was better than last time but still not company worthy. More sugar might help. So, back to the drawing board. Stay tuned; I imagine I’ll try another recipe sometime this summer.

Rating: ā˜…ā˜…ā˜…. 3 Stars

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