healthy chicken teriyaki stir-fry & a clean version of japanese yum yum sauce

If you like healthy, easy, and fast meals, stir-fry is your best friend. Throw some ingredients in your wok, add some sauce, stir around, done. Totally versatile based on what you have in your kitchen that night, too -- broccoli, peppers, carrots, onions, shrimp, chicken, steak -- throw in one or all and you have dinner in 15 minutes.

Of course, this is super easy if you have store-bought bottled teriyaki or stir-fry sauce. Really though, making your own is so simple and worlds healthier. You'll reduce the amount of sugar and sodium and ditch the preservatives. All you need is a few ingredients and you can make a delicious, healthy teriyaki stir-fry sauce in minutes. Promise! 

Want to take it up even another notch though? Yum yum sauce. Have you ever had yum yum sauce at a Japanese hibachi restaurant? It's the white-ish colored, sweet, thick sauce they serve alongside your meat and veggies and it is sooo delicious. However.... it's primarily made up of mayonnaise and sugar. Eeek! We actually have the bottled kind in our fridge. I know, I know, it's terrible... but Ryan loves it. As do I, and I've reached for it a time or two when the craving hits. Once I really looked at the nutrition information, though, I knew I had to make a healthier version. 

Scary, right? 170 calories and 17 grams of fat for TWO TABLESPOONS! Not to mention sugar and corn syrup being the 3rd and 4th ingredients. So, I set out to make a healthy version. It took a couple of tries, but I ended up with a healthified yum yum sauce that I am quite happy with. 

Let's compare the nutrition, shall we? This one is fat free and 170 calories for the entire BOWL. Two tablespoons will cost you just 40 calories. Not to mention, there are no strange ingredients or preservatives or added sugar. Just real food. I'd say that's a win, right? 

So, how does it taste? Because that's important. Similar to the original yum yum sauce, it's sweet and creamy with a hint of spice. Exactly the same? No. Close enough? To me, yes. It has a bit more tang from the greek yogurt and isn't as thick as the original (that part is hard to recreate without mayonnaise), but it tastes pretty darn good. It really adds a level of decadence to a stir-fry that you don't get with just the teriyaki sauce. 

Bottom line? It's a good, flavorful, creamy substitute when you don't want to pile an extra 17 grams of fat onto your dinner. If you love yum yum sauce (or even if you've never had it), give this a try! One note though: I found that the flavor improved as it sat in the fridge throughout the day, so try to make it the morning before or a few hours before you're going to eat it (same goes for the stir fry sauce). 

Here's how to make the entire dish:  

Several hours before dinner (or the morning of), do a little prep work. This will save you time later and give the sauce ingredients plenty of time to marry in the fridge. Prepare your teriyaki sauce: combine 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce, 2 tbsp honey, 1/4 cup mirin (sweet Japanese sake -- find in the international aisle), 1 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 1 tsp ground ginger (jarred or fresh, or replace with dried). 

I chose to marinate a couple of my ingredients in the teriyaki sauce during the day for extra flavor. Toss in 1/2 a cup of chopped carrots and 1 drained can of water chestnuts, halved. Water chestnuts are a super healthy, fibrous aquatic vegetable that make a great addition to stir-frys. This marinating step is optional, as are both of these ingredients. I really liked the crunch both added, though!

Cover the teriyaki sauce and the marinating veggies in the fridge until it's time to cook. 

Then, prepare your yum yum sauce. Combine the following: 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp almond milk, 1 tsp tomato paste (I know, I know -- so annoying to only use a tsp out of the can, but save the rest for something else yummy... like my crockpot Indian butter chicken!), 1/8 tsp each garlic powder, salt and pepper, and 1/4 tsp sriracha. Mix together, cover, and refrigerate until time to cook. 

If you have time, prepare your chicken ahead of time too. That way you'll REALLY make your life easy when it's time to cook dinner. Of course, this can certainly be done right before cooking too.
Pound 3 or 4 raw chicken breasts until thin and even. I do this by covering them with plastic wrap and banging with a mallet (a cast iron skillet works too!).

Then, using kitchen shears, cut into very thin strips. 

Cover and refrigerate chopped chicken until ready to cook. 

When you are ready to make dinner, take the yum yum sauce out of the fridge and bring to room temperature. Then, prepare your steamed broccoli. I use frozen broccoli because I always have it and it's easy. Just put a cup of frozen broccoli in a bowl, cover, and microwave for 2-3 minutes with a tbsp of water. It doesn't have to be totally warm yet -- it will heat up in the stir fry. 

Then, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a wok over medium heat. A plain skillet would work fine too, but woks are great for stir-fry's -- I'd totally recommend getting one! Once oil is hot, add the chicken. 

Cook, periodically tossing the chicken with tongs to cook all sides. Be sure not to toss continuously though -- you want to be sure to give the chicken time to stick to the sides and cook. 

Cook until it's no longer pink -- about 4 or 5 minutes. 

Drain the excess oil. 

Return the wok to the stove, heat still on medium. Add your broccoli and toss to combine. 

Pour in your teriyaki sauce with the carrots and water chestnuts. 

Heat, tossing and mixing ingredients occasionally. 

Heat for about 10 minutes -- until the teriyaki sauce has been at a rolling boil for a couple of minutes. 

Serve over brown rice. Drizzle with yum yum sauce. 

Chicken Teriyaki Stir-Fry with Clean Japanese Yum-Yum Sauce
For 4 servings

-3-4 raw chicken breasts, pounded thin, sliced into thin pieces
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 cup steamed broccoli
-1/2 cup raw diced carrots
-1 can water chestnuts, drained and halved
For teriyaki sauce:
-1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
-2 tbsp honey
-1/4 cup mirin
-1 tbsp sesame oil
-1 tsp ground ginger
-2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
-2 cloves garlic, minced
For yum yum sauce:
-1/3 cup greek yogurt
-1 tsp rice wine vinegar
-1 tsp tomato paste
-1/8 tsp salt
-1/8 tsp pepper
-1/8 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp sriracha
-2 tbsp honey
-1 tbsp almond milk

Several hours before cooking (2 - 8 hrs prior):
-Mix all yum yum sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Cover. Refrigerate.
-Mix all teriyaki sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Add in carrots and water chestnuts to marinate. Cover. Refrigerate. 
When ready to cook:
-Take yum yum sauce out of the fridge and bring to room temperature. 
-Heat olive oil in a wok over medium heat until hot. Add chicken. Cook, periodically tossing the chicken with tongs to cook all sides, until no longer pink -- about 4 or 5 minutes. 
-Add broccoli. Toss to combine. Pour in the teriyaki sauce with the marinating veggies. Mix all ingredients, tossing lightly. 
-Let cook for about 10 minutes, or until sauce has been at a rolling boil for a couple of minutes. 
-Serve over brown rice. 


  1. making next week! It's going on the menu plan :)

  2. This was absolutely delicious! I have some picky eaters so left out the sesame oil and substituted onions for the water chestnuts. Served it with brown rice. We plan to make this regularly!



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