Asian dishes tend to get a bad rap when it comes to being "healthy" as most are filled with questionable ingredients and loads of unnecessary refined sugar. Yet the flavors of asian-inspired dishes, when done correctly, are wonderful. Zesty ginger, tangy rice wine vinegar and lots of spices, these are what should be the cornerstones of these dishes - not the sugar.
Teriyaki is one particularly notable offender as most restaurant and store bought marinades or glazes are loaded with sugar, and not the good kind. Read the labels closely and you'll find every type sugar there is - high fructose corn syrup, fructose, cane syrup, the list goes on and on.
At it's core, teriyaki sauce is simply soy sauce, mirin (a sweetened sake), regular sake and then sugar. While you could certainly use some honey or other natural sweeteners to make this sauce healthier, I chose to go the really low sugar route and to not add any other sweeteners at all.
Instead, this sauce gets a subtle sweetness from the use of coconut aminos. I've also removed the mirin as it is almost impossible to find a version without the aforementioned questionable ingredients and added sugars. In it's place, I added in some rice wine vinegar to mimic the sake (which is a fermented rice wine) and provide a little tang.
Since we're smack in the middle of Summer here in New York City, I decided to keep the oven off and grill these wings outside. You'll only need the stove for a few minutes to make the finishing glaze which means these wings are perfect for warm summer nights or BBQs. I like to sprinkle some sesame seeds and green onion on top before serving alongside a nice salad or summer slaw.
Hopefully you'll give these wings a try and see that you can enjoy healthier, lower-sugar Asian dishes and not miss the refined sugar!
Grilled Chicken Teriyaki Wings (Refined Sugar Free, Gluten-Free)
Serves: Makes about 25 wings
Time: 25 minutes plus at least 1 hour chill time
1 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari*
1/2 cup coconut aminos
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1/2 cup coconut aminos
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
25 organic, preferably pasture-raised chicken wings
Green onion, sliced
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the tamari/soy sauce, coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar, ginger and garlic. Add chicken pieces, tossing to coat.
2. Let chicken rest in the marinade in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, turning every 30 minutes.
3. Turn on your grill and turn one side to medium-high and one side to low. Remove chicken from the marinade and place, skin side down, on the medium-high side of the grill.
4. Cook chicken for about 10 minutes or until crispy on the one side before flipping over. Chicken should easily pull away from the grill when it is ready to be flipped.
5. While chicken is cooking, begin to make the glaze by placing all of the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and heating over medium heat. Let come to a light summer and reduce heat to medium-low and let cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
6. Continue cooking the second side for another 5 minutes. If some pieces appear to be cooking faster, remove and place on the lower heat side. After 5 minutes, remove all wings and place over lower heat but leaving the high heat side on. Keep the lid closed and cook for another 10 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the wing reads at least 165 degrees F.
7. Place wings in a large bowl and add the finished glaze. Toss to coat and then transfer to a plate. Top with sesame seeds and sliced green onion.
Tamari is a gluten-free version of soy sauce which I enjoy using in my cooking. Be sure to use a very low-sodium version as it can be overpowering when reduced in the marinade.