Disclaimer: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. Sudachi earns a small percentage from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. See disclaimer for more info.
“This was fire! I’ve never cooked teriyaki before. I almost never even order it at a restaurant. As I was following the recipe I kept thinking, “nah, this can’t be right…to much this…to much that.” When it was done and served over rice (your recipe, stove top) with steamed asparagus on the side, I could t believe how dynamic it was! The umami, the salt, sweet, and sake And how they all happened at once without becoming a blended generic flavor was so good. Thank you for making these recipes available to us!”– Jesse Lebus
What is Teriyaki?
Teriyaki (照り焼き) is a method of cooking where ingredients are fried in a sauce made up of equal parts of soy sauce, mirin and sake. As it cooks down, the sugars in the mirin caramelize, creating a glossy texture that resembles a thin glaze.
Despite the common misconception that teriyaki is a sauce, the term technically refers to the cooking method rather than the sauce itself. This becomes clear if you consider that in Japanese, “teri” (照り) means glossy and “yaki” (焼き) means to fry or cook.
How I Developed This Recipe
Cod and teriyaki might sound like a straightforward pairing, but when working with cod, a delicate and flaky fish, there’s a bit of a challenge. The fish can easily lose its shape and fall apart during cooking, especially when made into fillets.
To address this, I’ve tailored this recipe to ensure the cod remains intact and flavorful. The key is to cut the cod into bite-sized pieces, which are more manageable and less likely to disintegrate. Before cooking, each piece is coated in starch, providing a protective layer that helps keep the fish together.
Once cooked, the fish is then coated in a rich, savory teriyaki sauce, which complements the mild flavor of the cod beautifully. This dish makes for a tasty appetizer, offering a delightful combination of textures and flavors!
Teriyaki Fish: The Best Fish to Use For Teriyaki
While teriyaki chicken is probably one of the most popular teriyaki dishes in the world, fish is also a great option. In Japan, yellowtail (also known as Japanese Amberjack) is the most commonly used, with its light pink flesh and mild buttery taste complimented perfectly by the balanced flavors of the teriyaki sauce.
That said, teriyaki is truly versatile and goes well with almost any kind of fish. From salmon and tuna, to a soft, flakey white fish like cod or tilapia, you really can’t go wrong!
In this recipe, I use deboned cod fillets cut into bitesize pieces. However, this recipe can be used to make almost any kind of teriyaki fish dish. Here are a few substitutes you can use instead, depending on the season, location and availability.
- Yellowtail / Japanese Amberjack (buri) most common in Japan
- Swordfish (mekajiki)
- Japanese Spanish mackerel (sawara)
- Cod (tara)
- Pacific Whiting / Hake
- Mahi mahi
Since cod is pretty accessible in most places in the world, I decided to make the recipe with cod this time! Feel free to use your favorite fish and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
Ingredients & Substitution Ideas
- Cod (or Fish of Your Choice): Mild-flavored white fish works best for this recipe.
- Cornstarch: Dust the fish to create a crispy layer. Potato or tapioca starch are good substitutes.
- Soy Sauce: For an affordable option, I strongly recommend Kikkoman soy sauce. For a deeper dive into selecting the perfect soy sauce for Japanese dishes, refer to my comprehensive soy sauce guide.
- Mirin: Use real Hon Mirin for marinating and sauce-making for the best flavor.
- Sake: Adds a subtle acidity and bitterness, crucial for balancing teriyaki sauce flavors.
- Sugar: Sweetens and thickens the teriyaki sauce.
- Dashi Broth: Enhances the sauce’s umami. It’s okay to omit if unavailable. You can choose from my favorite dashi, simple awase dashi, vegan dashi, or use instant dashi granules or dashi packets if pressed for time.
- Honey: Adds depth, sweetness, and a hint of flavor to the sauce.
- Cooking Oil: Opt for a neutral, high-smoke point oil like white sesame, vegetable, or canola.
- Finely Chopped Green Onion: An optional garnish for color and freshness.
- Sesame Seeds: Optional for extra decoration and texture.
Curious about the exact brands and products that bring my recipes to life? Discover the brands and ingredients behind my recipes at the Sudachi Amazon Storefront. Explore my handpicked pantry essentials and find your next kitchen favorites!Jump to Full Recipe Measurements
Visual Walkthrough & Tips
Here are my step-by-step instructions for how to make Teriyaki Cod at home. For ingredient quantities and simplified instructions, scroll down for the Printable Recipe Card below.
Cut the cod into uniform bitesize pieces and place them in a bag with soy sauce and mirin. Gently massage the bag to cover all the pieces and then marinate in the fridge for 10 minutes.
When the umami component in fish is decomposed, it produces something called “trimethylamine” which is responsible for the fishy odor. Adding seasonings that contain salt help draw out the excess moisture and remove bitterness. Soy sauce in particular has a masking effect that softens the smell. The marinating step in this recipe is not to flavor the fish, but to remove unwanted odors and improve the overall taste.
Depending on your preference, this recipe can be cooked either by shallow frying or regular pan-frying. If shallow frying, start heating your about 2-3cm (1 inch) of oil to 180°C (356°F) or heat a pan on the stove over medium heat for regular pan-frying.
While you wait for it to heat up, take the cod pieces out of the fridge and dredge them in cornstarch. This will help create a golden crispy outside, which not only has an amazing texture but also helps the teriyaki sauce stick better later.
Once the oil is hot, add the cod pieces and fry for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy all over. If pan frying, make sure to fry all the surfaces to achieve the crispy texture all over.
Once the cod is crispy and golden all over, transfer to a wire rack to drain off the excess oil. Proper draining will prevent oil mixing into your teriyaki sauce.
Add soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, dashi and honey to a wide pan and mix until combined. Place the pan on the stove and heat on medium-high.
Once the sauce starts to bubble, add the cod pieces to the pan.
Gently mix the cod around the pan, turning occasionally to ensure all surfaces become coated in the sauce. Continue to stir over the heat until the sauce has thickened to a syrup-like consistency.
Once thickened, remove from the heat.
Serve up your homemade teriyaki cod with a sprinkle of chopped green onions and sesame seeds, and enjoy!Jump to Full Recipe Measurements
This recipe was updated on July 21st 2023. The original recipe was made with whole cod fillets with the skin on. Since cod fillets are very delicate, I found they broke easily when cooking them in the teriyaki sauce. I changed the recipe to bitesize pieces to tackle this problem and added a marinating step in place of washing them with boiling water. This added an extra 10 minutes to the recipe.
If you want to follow the original recipe with whole fish fillets, watch my 15 minute teriyaki cod video displayed below.
Teriyaki only uses 4 ingredients and each one plays an important part. Some recipes don’t use mirin. It’s possible to use more sugar instead of mirin. (Mirin is a sweetened rice wine)
Sake is more important and I don’t recommend switching it out. But if you have to, then you can try switching it for Chinese rice wine, dry sherry or even just plain water. (It won’t be so flavorful though.)
It’s a sweet soy glaze so of course, it’s sweet, a bit salty and a bit tangy.
Traditionally, teriyaki “sauce” is made up of just 3 ingredients in equal quantities: soy sauce, sake and mirin. However, these days it is common to add sugar as well to help make the sauce thicker and sweeter.
Each condiment holds equal importance, with soy sauce adding a deep, salty flavor that is rich in umami, sake contributing a touch of acidity and bitterness, and mirin balancing these flavors with its sweetness. It is for that reason, that it is not recommended to use substitute ingredients when making teriyaki.
Soy sauce, mirin and sake are pretty much the golden-trio of Japanese cuisine, so if you plan to cook Japanese food often, I highly recommend keeping a bottle of each in your pantry. You can also learn more about useful condiments for Japanese cooking in my post, 20 essential condiments used in Japanese cooking. Please check it out if you have time!
Teriyaki sauce can also be customized with additional flavors such as garlic, ginger or chili just to name a few. I personally like to add a small amount of dashi and honey to my teriyaki for added depth!
Teriyaki is one of the most versatile cooking methods in Japanese cuisine and you can essentially use it for any kind of meat, fish, tofu or vegetables! Here are just a few ideas:
Garlic Teriyaki Chicken Donburi (rice bowl)
Tofu Steak (with teriyaki-style glaze)
Tsukune (chicken meatballs with teriyaki glaze)
Whether you use it in stir fries, side dishes or simply as a sauce, there are endless possibilities when it comes to teriyaki!
I hope you enjoy this Teriyaki Cod recipe! If you try it out, I’d really appreciate it if you could spare a moment to let me know what you thought by giving a review and star rating in the comments below. It’s also helpful to share any adjustments you made to the recipe with our other readers. Thank you!
More Delicious Teriyaki Recipes
Quick and Easy Teriyaki Cod
- Cut 150 g cod into large bitesize pieces and place them in a bag with 2 tsp soy sauce and 2 tsp mirin. Marinate in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, start heating the cooking oil to 180 °C (356 °F) for shallow frying or medium for regular pan frying. While you wait for it to heat up, sprinkle 3 tbsp cornstarch onto a plate and coat the cod pieces generously all over.
- Once the oil is heated, place the coated cod pieces in the pan and fry for 2 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy.
- Remove from the oil and transfer to a wire rack to let the excess oil drain off.
- In a separate pan, add 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp mirin, 2 tbsp sake, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tbsp dashi, and 1 tsp honey. Mix well and turn on the heat to medium-high.
- Once it starts bubbling, add the fried cod pieces.
- Gently stir to coat the cod and cook until the sauce thickens to a syrup-like texture. Once thickened, remove from the heat.
- Serve and drizzle any leftover sauce over the top. Garnish with finely chopped green onion(s) and sesame seeds.