Money-wise, it's worth buying a bottle of your favorite teriyaki sauce if you don't plan on cooking much else that's Japanese.
But why not spring for the four ingredients and impress all your friends when you tell them your sauce is homemade?
All you need is soy sauce, mirin, sake, and extra-fine sugar. I'm sure regular sugar will work, too, because you heat it to make it melt, but you can easily find extra-fine sugar in Asian supermarkets.
Another nice thing about making this sauce is that you can control how sweet it is. I like things sweet, but even I know there's nothing worse than something that's too sweet -- all desserts aside, of course.
I loved the way this turned out with tofu, although my tofu didn't get quite as browned as I expected under the broiler. You can also use this sauce for chicken, beef, or salmon.
Follow the directions from this post about how to prepare a block of water-packed tofu, but don't cut it lengthwise. Cut it into cubes. One block of tofu will serve 4.
My teriyaki sauce recipe comes from Emi Kazuko.
Teriyaki sauce (serves 4)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
3 tablespoons sake
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-fine sugar
1.) Heat all ingredients -- except the 2 teaspoons of sugar -- in a sauce pan over medium heat. When the sugar is melted, let the sauce cool for an hour. (I let it cool on the stove for a half hour, then about 15 minutes in the fridge.)
2.) Marinate cubes of tofu in the sauce in the refrigerator for a half-hour, at least.
3.) Remove from fridge. Take the tofu out of the sauce and put it on broiler pan. Reserve the sauce. If you plan to use bamboo skewers, soak the skewers for 20 minutes in warm water first.
4.) Prepare and cook your side veggies (recipe follows). Keep warm as your broil the tofu.
5.) Preheat the broiler. Place the tofu under the broiler, and cook, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook on other side for another 4 minutes.
6.) While the tofu is cooking, reheat the sauce with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar.
7.) Arrange the veggies and tofu on a serving platter and drizzle the sauce on top. Serve with a side of short-grain brown rice.
Roasted veggies for tofu teriyaki (serves 4)
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 sweet potato, sliced
1/2 zucchini, sliced
about 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Toss vegetables with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and spread on roasting pan. Roast at 450 degrees for about 12 minutes. Stir/flip once, halfway through cooking.