Julia's Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls With Cabbage Salad + Pickled Carrots

A couple of years ago Julia Busuttil Nishimura shared with us her recipe for a simple and healthy salmon rice bowl that remains one of our most revisited recipes to date. Today, Julia brightens the start of winter with another rice bowl recipe, this time featuring teriyaki chicken as the hero, accompanied by a crunchy and colourful cabbage salad, and pickled carrots!

This recipe is quick to prepare and can easily be substituted with whatever’s in the fridge.. we have a feeling this one might be a new crowd favourite!

Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Photo – Nori Nishimura.

Photo – Nori Nishimura + Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

Photo – Nori Nishimura + Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
9th of June 2020

In winter it can often feel a challenge to cook food that is bright and refreshing. Light summer produce is all but a distant memory as we turn to sturdy reliable vegetables like cabbages, carrots and leafy greens. These cold-loving vegetables can be as exciting as summer’s first tomato or the freshest spring peas. Used a little differently, say in a pickle as I do here, they are such a welcome brightness in winter.

We eat versions of this rice bowl at least once a week at home. It’s relatively quick to put together and can be adjusted to whatever is in the fridge. I might swap out the cabbage for steamed greens like broccolini and snap peas, or use store-bought pickles or add some avocado or bean sprouts. The base of rice and some sort of protein, however, usually remains.

The teriyaki sauce for the chicken is so incredibly good and is something that my husband Nori taught me to make. ‘Teri’ simply means shiny or glossy and ‘Yaki’ means grilled. The sauce coats the chicken and gives it this gleaming shine, all caramelised and just plain delicious. It is such a crowd pleaser and so full of flavour. I love it with chicken, but in Japan it is more commonly paired with fish, so you could use fish like salmon, mackerel or tuna instead.

I like to cook a mixed rice of brown and white, it has more body then just white, and the brown rice gives a nice nuttiness and texture to the dish. I simply soak my brown rice overnight so they then can both be cooked together. By all means just use one or the other if you prefer though. Just note that if you decide to cook only brown rice without pre-soaking, the cooking time and water would need to be adjusted, so follow the directions on the packet. The cabbage salad is best prepared using a mandolin, it makes shredding and slicing the vegetables so easy and quick, but alternatively of course just using a kitchen knife is fine too. Just be sure to dress the salad just before serving to keep it nice and crisp.

JULIA’S Teriyaki chicken bowl with cabbage salad and pickled carrots  (Serves 4)

Mixed Rice

200g (1 cup) white short or medium grain rice, rinsed well
200g (1 cup) brown short or medium grain rice, soaked overnight or for at least 3 hours
1 tbsp roasted sesame oil

Pickled Carrots

2 carrots, peeled and julienned
110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) rice vinegar
125ml (1/2 cup) water

Teriyaki Chicken

4 chicken thighs, skin on (approximately 550g in total)
Sea salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
60ml (1/4 cup) soy sauce
60ml (1/4 cup) mirin
60ml (1/4 cup) sake 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 2cm piece ginger, finely grated
2tbsp brown sugar

Cabbage Salad

1/4 Savoy cabbage (approximately 350g), thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced, plus extra to serve
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 red shallot, halved and thinly sliced
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds, plus extra to serve
2 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce

2 soft boiled eggs, halved, to serve


Drain the brown rice from the soaking liquid and add into a pot or stovetop rice cooker along with the rinsed white rice and enough cold water to come above the level of the rice by 1.5cm (approximately 2 1/2 -3 cups of water). Bring to a simmer over a high heat uncovered then turn the heat down to low, cover with a tight fitting lid and let the rice simmer gently for around 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the rice covered. Allow to steam in the pot for 15 minutes. Drizzle over the sesame oil and mix with a rice paddle or wooden spoon to gently combine.

For the pickled carrots, place the carrots in a heatproof bowl or container. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small pot and bring to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until reduced slightly. Pour over the carrots and set aside to cool. Once these are cool they are ready to use and any excess can be kept in a container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Season the chicken with a little sea salt and let sit at room temperature while you make the teriyaki glaze. Combine the soy, mirin, sake, garlic, ginger and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.

For the salad, combine the cabbage, spring onions, radishes, shallot and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a large fry pan over a high heat and pour in the vegetable oil. Cook the chicken thighs skin side down for around 4 minutes or until golden. Turn the chicken thighs and cook for another 2 minutes. At this stage, the chicken should be almost cooked but still a little under. Pour the teriyaki glaze in and around the chicken and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the chicken for a further two minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked through and the sauce has thickened. I like to turn the chicken a few times in the sauce as it is cooking, so it gets nicely coated. Allow to rest for a few minutes then slice the chicken thighs into pieces.

Now to assemble, divide the rice amongst four bowls and arrange some chicken and any teriyaki glaze from the pan into each bowl. Dress the salad with the dressing and place a mound of cabbage salad, some pickled carrots and half of a soft boiled egg on top of the rice. Top with extra roasted sesame seeds and spring onions and serve.

What else I’m eating:

The sandwiches at Hector’s Deli in Richmond. After a short hiatus during the peak of the COVID crisis, they’re back and as delicious as ever. Their fried chicken sandwich is just so good as is everything they do. While they were closed they also donated 4000 sandwiches to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). LEGENDS!!!

What else I’m cooking with:

Cime di Rapa. Boiled and then cooked in a pan with plenty of olive oil and garlic. Eaten with orecchiette and lots of crunchy breadcrumbs.

You can follow Julia’s food adventures on Instagram and find more recipes via her website – and stay tuned for her brand new BOOK, due for release later this year!

Click here to download printable recipe!

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