Recipe: Deby’s Teriyaki Marinade

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The last time I lived in California (post-bachelor’s degree), I was doing what you might call Livin’ the Dream: I had a great job at a newspaper, an awesome church (with accompanying awesome singles group), a house at the end of a cul-de-sac, a cute patio and a yard with beautiful landscaping. Our house was 45 minutes from the mountains, the desert or the beach, depending on your direction (and what time of day you went).

And my favorite: a swimming pool with an in-ground hot tub at one corner. (Doesn’t everyone in Southern California have an in-ground pool and hot tub?)

grilled teriyaki chicken
No photo for my grilling recipe? No problem. My generous friend Talya to the rescue! Photos courtesy of Talya Tate Boerner of Grace, Grits and Gardening.

I rented from my roommate, Deby, who owned the house and paid other people to maintain the property. (Doesn’t everyone in Southern California have a yard guy and a pool guy?)

Yup. Livin’ the Dream. (Except that my closest family units were 4-5 hours away by car.)

Deby and I had lots of cookouts and swim parties – sometimes with her friends, sometimes with mine, but always lots of fun and lasting until the wee hours of the morning (I was young then; I could do that).

One of my favorite things about Deby, besides her generosity (she pretty much let me do whatever I wanted, as long as I didn’t burn the place down), was that she was a gourmet cook. Financial planner by day, food magician by night.

She made creating delicious recipes seem effortless. (She once took a pot of chili I had left simmering on the stove and, after asking permission, turned it from blah to rah! just by sprinkling in some fairy dust a few spices.)

I experienced many culinary firsts at Deby’s table: I had never heard of cilantro (and now my love for it is limitless), I had never eaten orange roughy; I had never eaten sushi, had never heard of wasabi (no Japanese sushi restaurant has anything on Deby). Artichoke hearts with a creamy dill sauce, yum! And I didn’t have a clue what ceviche was (again, no restaurant can hold a candle). And our refrigerator always – always – housed a dish of fresh garlic butter, which we whipped up ourselves.

I “stole” several recipes from Deby, including the one below, which might embody her motto, and I heartily embrace it:

“Everything is better with garlic.”

(Go ahead. Write that down and tape it to your fridge.)

The first time I experienced her Teriyaki Marinade was when Deby invited me sailing with some friends who owned a sailboat. (Doesn’t everyone in Southern California own a sailboat?) The boat had a little grill, where we plopped down some boneless chicken that had been marinating in the cooler all morning.

salmon teriyaki recipeYou’ll have to experience for yourself how good this is, because I am out of words to describe it. I’ve since tried the marinade with salmon, one Fourth of July a few years ago – why just once? I don’t know! – and I’m sure it would be awesome with shrimp, too.

And, because this is Memorial Day weekend and you have more exciting things to do than listen to someone else wax nostalgic about her Livin’ la Vida SoCal days two decades past, here it is. (Note: I’m presenting it in its original form but have included a couple of healthier substitutions.)

What are you waiting for? Go get your grill on!

Deby, if you should stumble across this post someday, please get in touch. And thank you for everything you taught me about generosity, hospitality and good food.

Print Recipe
Recipe: Deby’s Teriyaki Marinade
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-20 minutes
Passive Time 4-8 hours
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-20 minutes
Passive Time 4-8 hours
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until combined.
  2. Place mixture in a sealable bag or airtight dish with 6-8 boneless chicken breasts OR salmon steaks OR 1-2 pounds of shrimp.
  3. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, turning the bag at least once to make sure every surface gets plenty of yummy marinade.
  4. Discard unused marinade or boil it for use as a sauce. (I've never done this, but it seems a shame to waste it.)
Recipe Notes

Serve with a fresh green salad, grilled veggies (why not? the grill is already hot!) or a sweet potato smashed with coconut oil or butter and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

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7 thoughts on “Recipe: Deby’s Teriyaki Marinade

  1. Oh, I almost, for a minute, entertained jealousy. Heh heh. Whew! What a deal you had goin’, once! Must be where you learned all the generosity you are always showing to others. 😀
    I would love to try this, but we have NO chicken in the house right now. But we have (and LOVE) plenty of garlic, as it grows wild all around us. I will look for a chance asap! In the meantime, do you think it would be possible to grill that sweet potato? Without foil? If a person turned it often enough?
    And it wasn’t too huge? Just thinkin’… 🙂
    Thanks so much for the recipe!

  2. Katharine, you are generous in your assessment of me! Thanks.

    As a food LOVER but not a food BLOGGER, I opted not to suggest grilling the sweet potato because then I would feel responsible for telling you how to do it! And I don’t have a clue, except that I think grilled sweet potato would be incredible. 🙂 You do it and tell me how it turns out, eh?

    And wild garlic growing all around? Nirvana!

    Thanks for the kind words. I really do want to know how your grilled sweet potato turns out. Hey, use some of that molasses with the butter and cinnamon …

  3. Suzy – this looks absolutely DE-LIC-IOUS!!! Tayla’s photos are icing on the cake because I am eating this with my eyes and in my mind’s eye. Thank you so much for posting!!

    Katharine – I grill sweet potatoes all the time and concur with Tayla. I also boil them ahead of time to al dente… and then they grill much faster and come out perfectly. You can grill them whole. I like to cut them in slices and grill them!

    Suzy……. yes. SoCal folks are livn’ the dream. I attended college in Pasadena, where were you?



    1. See, Katharine? I wouldn’t have told you to cook the taters ahead of time. Lyndie, the REAL foodie, to the rescue! Gonna have to try that on the grill. 🙂

      Lyndie, I was born in the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno County, and lived there for several years before moving to Arkansas, where my parents grew up. Then after college, I worked in San Bernardino and lived in the beautiful town of Redlands. Just a hop, skip and a jump from Pasadena!

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