Teriyaki for Life

Teriyaki for Life

One of our most treasured lake traditions may sound a little unusual for lake life, but oh boy – do we talk about it all year long, counting down the months, weeks and days to this special meal. It is Teriyaki Night. I love that Grilled Teriyaki is a long-standing family meal during our yearly week at the lake. Let me tell you how this tradition started.


First of all, the entire family, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents & grandparents ((I will call us the clan)) goes to the lake ((Table Rock)) together.  The lake week is almost always during the 4th of July. The clan started doing this almost 55 years ago, beginning with David’s grandparents (Ken & Alice) and their two young sons, Stan (my FIL) and Rodger. Several other families joined them in their yearly trek to the lake AND even to this day, we still attend with one of the families that Ken & Alice started going with so many years ago. Isn’t that amazing??


It was in those early years that Alice discovered Teriyaki — when one of the ladies served it for a lakeside meal (this would have been in the early 60’s just for reference). Everyone loved it so much that it stayed on the menu and now 55 years later we are proudly carrying on the tradition.


Of course, as the years have turned into decades and decades have added up to HALF of a century, the family has grown – a lot. What once was a meal for 8 to 10 people has now turned into a meal for 25 to 30 depending on who shows up for this most anticipated meal of the year.


With the increase in eaters, the recipe has been modified a bit — but the ingredients remain the same. I am excited to share this recipe with you & I hope you find a way to make this meal into an amazing tradition that turns up at the most unexpected time — say at the lake!


We grill about 16 pounds of steak ((I personally prefer flat iron, but sirloin is a more regular cut used by the clan)). Over the years us women folk have gotten wise to the idea of asking the butcher to pre-cut the steak into strips BEFORE packaging it up for us. That saves a lot of mess and tendonitis, haha — but really. 

This photo was taken last year when we used soy sauce & shallots.

For the marinade, Alice always used this short list of ingredients:

  • soy sauce ((I used tamari because I think it tastes better and is easier on my tum — if you must know))
  • garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • red wine
  • brown sugar


This year, my MIL, Cheryl and I paid close attention to the quantities of each of the ingredients in hopes of documenting a more exact recipe. I will share all of those details in the recipe card below.


Before we get to the particulars, I wanted to tell you what have become the standard side dishes for this meal. Get ready — it is going to be good!! Here goes:


  • cheese grits
  • tabouli 
  • oh and some sort of amazing chocolate cake for dessert.


Yes, I think it is safe to say this is a 3 pound meal. You know, like you leave the table 3 pounds heavier than when you first sat down??! Good thing we can swim and ski it off! That is what makes it the PERFECT lake meal!


For the record – we swam a lot ((but not enough, haha)).



A Classic Teriyaki Marinade -- Perfect for the Lake
Serves 25
Simple, yes! But when served at the lake, this turns into the very BEST meal of the year!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
744 calories
24 g
241 g
32 g
79 g
12 g
379 g
2188 g
22 g
0 g
17 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 744
Calories from Fat 290
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 32g
Saturated Fat 12g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 16g
Cholesterol 241mg
Sodium 2188mg
Total Carbohydrates 24g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 22g
Protein 79g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 750 ml bottle of your favorite red wine
  2. 32 oz tamari
  3. one head of garlic, cloves individually peeled and crushed*
  4. 2 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  5. 1 - 2" to 3" piece ((at least quarter-size in diameter)) of fresh ginger, unpeeled and sliced*
  6. 16 pounds of sirloin or flat iron steak, cut into 1/2" thick long strips ((cut against the grain))
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a one gallon lidded glass jar 24 hours before dinner time. This allows time for the ginger and garlic to permeate through the marinade.
  2. The morning of the meal, place equal amounts of meat strips in 4 disposable foil roasting pans. Pour one quarter of the marinade over each pan of meat. Cover with foil and refrigerate.
  3. One hour before grill time, remove meat from fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Also begin filling grilling baskets with a single layer of marinated steak strips. ((Make sure to discard the ginger and garlic))
  4. Start grills ((we use charcoal)) and when the proper flame is reached, begin grilling. Each basket requires between 5 and 7 minutes per side. Of course, grilling time is subject to how much meat is being grilled at a time.
  5. Once all the teriyaki is grilled - dinner is served!
  6. Serves 25 people
  1. *I prefer to leave the garlic cloves crushed but whole and the ginger in coin-sized slices because it is easier to remove before grilling.
  2. If you aren't cooking for the clan, like we do, simply reduce the ingredients proportionately to the number you are serving. The marinade can last for a week in the fridge if you would like to make a bulk batch and only use a few cups at a time.
Food for a Year: https://foodforayear.com/