The Food Snob & the Hunt For Mirin

Is mirin an American product that we attribute to the Japanese or are the Asian stores in my area just hiding this product from me on purpose?  I live in an area of Salt Lake City that has multiple ethnic grocery stores every other block it seems.  I stopped at two in my quest for mirin and the people who worked there looked at me like I had horns on my head.  I even showed them the picture of the Kikkoman bottle on my smartphone and they showed me rice wine that wasn’t even close to what I was asking for.

Luckily, the recipe calls for medium dry sherry, not mirin.  One of the comments for the recipe suggested mirin, however rather than running all over Salt Lake City, I decided to just use sherry.  

This recipe is amazing.  Its sweet.  Its savory.  Its perfect.  And it tastes so good. I was impatient to eat it and I thickened the teriyaki sauce with cornstarch rather than waiting for it to reduce down.  

Teriyaki Chicken

  • 10 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon minced peeled fresh gingerroot
  • 10 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoon medium-dry Sherry or mirin
  • 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 4 garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup green onions sliced
  • 3-5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs butterflied all the way through and cut in half.

COMBINE the soy sauce, the gingerroot, the honey, the Sherry, the vinegar, and the garlic paste in a large bowl.

FLATTEN the chicken breast halves between sheets of plastic wrap until they are about 1/2 inch thick and let them marinate in the soy mixture, turning them once, for 20 minutes..

Marinading Chicken

TRANSFER the chicken, reserving the marinade in a small saucepan,  to an oiled cooling rack sitting on a foil covered cookie sheet.

REDUCE marinade by half in a small saucepan.  

BRUSH the chicken with some of the marinade, turn it, and brush it with the remaining marinade. 

BROIL the chicken for 6 to 8 minutes more, or until it is just cooked through.

Grandma’s No Fail Rice

When I told my boyfriend that I was going to post a blog on making rice he sarcastically remarked that he knew how to make the perfect rice.  His solution is to use a rice steamer that does all the work for you.  I asked him what he’s going to do when the rice steamer breaks and he can’t buy another one.  He just stared at me with a blank look. 

Its true there are gadgets out there that can make some of these tasks easier for us. However there will come a time when that gadget isn’t available and having the basic skills of making things by hand will be the difference between those who can have what they want and those who can’t.  

This is one of the earliest recipes that I learned.  Its the recipe my mom uses.  Its the recipe my dad uses.  And in all the hundreds of times I’ve made it, it never fails if you follow a few simple steps.  And it tastes a ton better than the rice from the rice cooker.  Just sayin’.

Grandma’s No Fail Rice

  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • Pinch of salt

COMBINE rice and water in a pot big enough to give it room for expansion.  I always make enough for leftovers, so I use my largest pot.  Add butter and salt.

COVER the pot.  The lid will stay on until you are ready to serve it.  Do not take it off.  This is the most important rule when it comes to perfect rice.

HEAT water to a hard boil and immediately turn the heat down to low.  DO NOT TAKE THE COVER OFF.  Turn timer on for 20 minutes.  

REMOVE pot from the heat after the timer goes off and let sit for another 20 minutes.  DO NOT TAKE THE COVER OFF!  

FLUFF rice with a fork and serve.  

This recipe can be multiplied exponentially.  There is no limit, other than a pot big enough to handle the expanded rice.  Want a bit of extra flavor?  Exchange chicken stock or vegetable stock for the water. 

I love to rewarm my leftover rice, add cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg & cloves, 1 tablespoon of butter and some milk for my breakfast the next day.  YUM!


Cooking Tip of the Day: Slow-cooked steel cut oats produce the best oatmeal. Don’t have time? Try toasting rolled oats for a slightly deeper flavor.

If you are afraid of butter, use cream

Julia Child


Amazing food in unexpected places. Chicken fajitas, Alex’s Cafe @ Teleperformance SLC


Adding some spice to work with my favorite candy.

Chicken Fried Steak

The most important element of my favorite chicken fried recipe isn’t even edible.  However, it takes this recipe from a 5 or 6 to an absolute 10.  It is also one of the most important pieces of equipment I own.  I’m talking about my cast iron skillet.  

Cast iron was especially popular in the early 20th century but fell out of popularity in the 1960s and 1970s.  This coincides with the growth in popularity of the atrocity that is microwave meals.  Coincidence… I think not.

In all actuality it was the popularity of teflon that led to the downfall of cast iron.  Also one of my least favorite culinary inventions.  Lately though, with the popularity of Le Creuset, pre-seasoned cast iron (take the work out of it and the people will come!), and the help of Alton Brown (my hero), Paula Deen and other Food Network personalities, I’ve seen a rise in the love of cast iron once again.  

So break out your Grandma’s cast iron skillet and prepare yourselves for a true treat.  


  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 (4 ounce) cube steaks
  • 38 saltine crackers, crushed
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 4 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups peanut oil
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

SPRINKLE salt and pepper evenly over steaks. Set aside.

COMBINE cracker crumbs, 1 cup flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and red pepper.

WHISK together 3/4 cup milk and eggs. Dredge steaks in cracker crumb mixture; dip in milk mixture, and dredge in cracker mixture again.

POUR oil into a 12-inch cast iron skillet; heat to 360 degrees. (Do not use a nonstick skillet.) Fry steaks 10 minutes. Turn and fry 4 to 5 more minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack on a jellyroll pan. Keep steaks warm in a 225 degree oven. Carefully drain hot oil, reserving cooked bits and 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet.

WHISK together remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 4 cups milk. Pour mixture into reserved drippings in skillet; cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon  constantly, 10 to 12 minutes, or until thickened. Serve gravy with steaks and mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.