Is it weird that I sometimes miss college dining? Not dining hall food…definitely not. My dorm’s dining hall served mainly bland stir fries, greasy baked ziti, and soggy Monty Cristo sandwiches. Blech. What I do miss is the food from student center. I liked having all those options, you know? There was a brick oven pizza place that had amazing, gigantic sausage pizzas that my roommate and I devoured every weekend. Right next to it (same counter, really) was a bagel joint that made the best chicken salad bagel sandwiches I’ve ever had. Kitty corner from that was a creperie that, oddly enough, sold delicious frozen bubble teas. That was eventually taken over by Ana’s Taqueria, which made mind blowing al pastor quesadillas. And inside the little 24-hour student center grocery store you could get amazing subs any time of day, lovingly handcrafted by my buddy Juan. Mmm, mmm, mmmmm.
And that was just the first floor! Upstairs, you could get Burger King, Subway or Italian food. If you were feeling veggie-deprived, there was a giant salad bar. I think there may have also been some sort of Indian/Middle Eastern place in the corner, but I never really ate there so I can’t picture it. My personal favorite was this placed called Shinkansen Japan, which served “bullet train fast food” – i.e., cheap sushi and teriyaki chicken/beef/veggies. I got lunch there probably 4-6 times per week, and sometimes dinner too. I ate there so often that, after I graduated and stopped showing up, the guy at the counter would ask Dan where I was every time he stopped by for lunch. Such a nice man!
What was the draw of Shinkansen, you ask? The chicken teriyaki. I don’t know what they put in it, but it was good. Tender, flavorful (salty-sweet, with fabulous caramelized bits), and so, so delicious with the steaming pile of white rice and vegetables that came with it. I couldn’t get enough! Even after the school newspaper published an article about the joint’s problems with vermin infestation (I think it was cockroaches…or mice), I kept going back. Don’t judge me. It was that good! But you know, as much as I loved chicken teriyaki in college, I don’t think I’ve eaten it even once since then. Obviously, that had to be rectified. And, thanks once again to Damn Delicious, I had the perfect recipe to fill the teriyaki void in my life. Juicy, salty-sweet chicken packed with savory flavor and full of those awesome caramelized bits I remembered from college. It’s so good that I’ve made it twice since last weekend. And Dan, also a Shinkansen-devotee, says it’s even better than the student center version. High praise indeed!
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1-1/4 cups water
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks or strips
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
- Sliced green onions, for garnish
- Whisk together cornstarch and ¼ cup water to create a slurry. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic powder, honey and 1 cup water. Bring mixture to a simmer.
- Stir in cornstarch mixture until your sauce is thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes.
- Allow sauce to cool to room temperature.
- Season raw chicken pieces with salt/pepper to taste.
- Place your seasoned chicken in a large bowl and pour cooled teriyaki sauce over the chicken. Toss to coat each piece with sauce. (If you want your chicken to be a little saucier than pictured, set aside about 1 cup of sauce, apart from what your raw chicken is going to be soaking in. Drizzle that over your cooked chicken, and toss to cook.)
- Allow chicken to marinate in the sauce for at least 30 minutes (preferably overnight), stirring occasionally.
- Spray a large pan or skillet with cooking spray. Set stove to medium-high.
- Cook chicken in batches, spreading marinated chicken in a single layer over the hot pan. Allow chicken to cook for about 1-2 minutes on one side, until browned, then flip to cook on the other side.
- Continue cooking chicken until each piece is browned and caramelized in places, about 2-3 minutes.
- Repeat steps 8-9 until all chicken is done.
- Serve immediately with a steaming bowl of rice.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion, if desired.
(Slightly adapted from Damn Delicious’s recipe)