Sunday, May 6, 2012

Teriyaki round 2, and beachside adventures

Success! It took me long enough, but I finally had another go around with the teriyaki business. Remember back in October when I made that gorgeous but unbearably salty beef teriyaki? I put out a plea for tried-and-true recipes and thankfully, my blogger (and real life friend, thanks to our meeting in France last year), Camille, sent me her go-to recipe.

Within about a month I have made it three times: twice for chicken and once for mahi mahi. I also happen to be making it this evening. Who knew the ideal chicken teriyaki would come to me by way of Paris?

It's simple and brilliant. For one thing, there's no marinating. You broil the chicken, which takes less than 15 minutes, and while that's in the oven, you simmer the sauce on the stove. Then, you eat it.

Camille's recipe does involve an extra step which I skip--she suggests you buy chicken thighs with skin and bone and cut out the bone. This is a good idea, because then the meat cooks more quickly, and when it's done, you can slice and serve it nicely. But, I didn't want to get into that. I just used the thighs as they were and tacked on a few extra minutes for cooking.

One thing, for those of you inclined to health it up, do NOT remove the skin. You'll just end up with shriveled little chicken nubs. The skin protects the chicken from drying out; plus it gets nice and crispy. If you're looking to feel virtuous, enjoy the fact that this recipe involves not a drop of oil. Hooray!

I added the sesame seeds as a garnish, and the most recent time, I added sliced scallions for a bright and oniony finish. It's a slam-dunk.

Chicken Teriyaki
courtesy of Croque Camille, edited slightly

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons mirin
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
½ teaspoon cornstarch

Optional: sesame seeds & green onions, sliced

Position oven rack about 8 inches from heat source; heat broiler. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set thighs skin side up on broiler pan (or foil-lined rimmed baking sheet fitted with flat wire rack), tucking exposed meat under skin. Broil until skin is crisp and golden brown and thickest parts of thighs register 175 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking time for even browning.

While chicken cooks, combine soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and garlic in small saucepan; stir together mirin and cornstarch in small bowl until no lumps remain, then stir mirin mixture into saucepan. Bring sauce to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to 3/4 cup and forms syrupy glaze, about 5-10 minutes. Cover to keep warm.

Transfer chicken to serving platter; stir sauce to recombine, then drizzle to taste over chicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or green onions. Serve immediately, passing remaining sauce separately.


New discoveries: It's such a nice surprise when, after 16 years of living in a city, you discover a new pocket to love.

We recently started heading out to the Outer Sunset/Ocean Beach on the weekends, when the weather is decent. In San Francisco, this can mean anything from 80 degrees to simply the absence of blowing wind and fog. We take what we can get. If I can sit on the beach and not be buried in a sandstorm, that constitutes a beach day. If I can do this in a short-sleeved shirt and flip flops, it's really something special.

Sophie digs the beach, too, as you might guess. She lived the first part of her life in Idaho and when we first brought her to the beach she went nuts. It actually was a rather stressful occasion which required calling on (some might say yelling at in a panicked voice) strangers to help us catch her as she tried manically to kill seagulls. Now, Sophie stays on leash.

Sometimes we just walk on the beach. Other times, we find a dune to sit on and watch the sunset. Usually, we find something delicious to eat at some point in the excursion. I'm sure we are not the only people for whom the merest whiff of salty air makes us ravenous.

Our favorite place to eat in the Outer Sunet was, for many years, Cajun Pacific, a teeny outpost about two blocks from the ocean, where you could drag the outdoor tables into a sliver of sunshine and eat po boy catfish  or andouille sausage sandwiches and drink Sierra Nevadas while the waves crashed in the background. CP is still around but in a different incarnation; now they basically just serve dinner, and even that seems sporadic. So, for our lunchtime needs, we've had to branch out.

Happily for us, we've found two excellent places which have shot to the top of our list. The first is Beachside Cafe at 48th & Judah (same owners of Java Beach, at the other end of the block), where we have become obsessed with their fried chicken sandwich, which is juicy, crisp, and delicious on a bed of tangy slaw, and served on a roll that is just the right balance of soft and crusty.

Although not a good shot, the sandwich more or less looks like this: 

In addition, they offer a bottomless mimosa on weekends, which literally means they will walk around with a pitcher and refill your quickly draining glass for as long as required. If you've never eaten a fried chicken sandwich by the beach, washed down with a mimosa, I'm afraid you're missing out. As someone who had never done this until a few weeks ago, you can trust me.

We've also become avid fans of Outerlands which is about three blocks east at Judah and, oh, say, 45th. This place is a bit of a scene, but it's worth it. On our first visit, we ordered open-faced bacon and egg sandwiches on their homemade bread, along with a fantastic farro and beet salad that I later tried to rip off at home, with reasonable success.

For dessert there was a perfect chocolate chip cookie and one of their signature salted caramels which are stocked irresistibly (and cleverly) in a glass canister by the cash register. I was irritated that the husband broke his longstanding anti-caramel policy and horned in my treat, but who could blame him? The caramel was shared.

These places both seem to have a bit of a following, which may or may not be a good thing for the neighborhood. There's a fine line between driving local business and stampeding residents with increased traffic and unwanted noise. For better or for worse, I would guess that the Outer Sunset is about five years away from being the next Mission or Hayes Valley.  I guess I'd better enjoy it now before the hipster hoards, with their skinny jeans and fixed-gear bicycles, descend.


  1. Now you have me longing for Hawaii where teriyaki reigns. God I love that stuff! I'll try yours! Thanks!

  2. That chicken looks really good1 The perfect summer meal!

  3. Zoom: You and your beloved will love it!

    Erica: Thanks! And thanks for stopping by!

  4. It's always a fine balance between wanting a place you like to do well so they stay in business, but not so well that they become a victim of their own success.

    Feels great to be able to come blog visiting again, I've missed reading your blog. Glad you've found teriyaki success!

  5. you're a better person than i am if you were able to share your caramel. :)
    sesame seeds and green onions would be the perfect garnishes for your lovely chicken!

  6. shaz: hi! good to see you here again!

    grace: Well I was pressured to share, let's face it.

  7. Just started biking regularly to work. That chicken looks like it would travel well in my lunch bag. Must give it a whirl soon! Glad you're enjoying beach time too. I'm a fan of beachside too!

  8. Sounds like a lot is happening out there in Ocean Beach. But I wouldn't worry about it turning out to be the next Mission. A few good days of fog and wind will get rid of the lines. ;-)

  9. ash: Biking to your new job, eh? yes, the chicken would pack well. When can we go to Beachside together?

    Ben: True. Those hipsters need sunshine!

  10. I love outerlands -- that bread is just too good. Now to try Beachside! One day we'll be able to get out and enjoy the sunset, usually that's just about when everyone in my family is melting down. :)

  11. Always fun to find new restaurants you know you're going to love.

    Your chicken looks wonderful. I really like the sesame seeds on top. The soy/sugar combo always makes for a lovely marinade and it browns so perfectly.

  12. alittle: The bread is to die for!

    Barbara: I hope you try the chicken--I think you'd become a quick fan!

  13. I tried this chicken recipe last week and loved it! It is so easy and less "messy" than broiling the marinated chicken. Also, made a full recipe of the marinade, so still have some leftover in the fridge when I come back from my trip! Always enjoy your restaurant reviews, sweet Samantha! Love, MOM

  14. Hi mom! So glad you liked the recipe. Miss you!!

  15. Yay! Thanks for the shout-out, and I'm so glad you like the recipe! Also, anti-caramel policy? I don't understand...

  16. Camille: The anti-caramel policy makes no sense.