Teriyaki-glazed cornish game hens from our November 2020 Tasting article "Feast Day." Photograph by Douglas Merriam.

Teriyaki-Glazed Cornish Game Hens

Serves 2–4*

The Mayor of Las Cruces, Ken Miyagishima, serves this sauce (he just eyeballs the ingredients) with turkey, but I was inspired by his idea, so I prepared this recipe to give a unique flavor to Cornish game hens for smaller gatherings.

2 Cornish game hens (about 1½ pounds each)
1 10-ounce bottle soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake or mirin
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
1½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
½ tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

  1. In a medium bowl combine soy sauce, sake or mirin, salt, and brown sugar. Whisk together until sugar has dissolved. Stir in scallions, minced garlic, and ginger.

  2. Rinse and dry hens. Place in a large plastic storage bag and pour marinade over. Allow to marinate for at least one hour and up to two hours in the refrigerator.

  3. Preheat oven to 400°. Place roasting rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange hens on rack; baste with marinade from bag. Roast hens until cooked through and brown, basting occasionally with the sauce (see below), about 1 hour. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165° and the juices run clear.

  4. Once the hens are in the oven, strain the marinade and heat in a small pan. Mix water with cornstarch to a thick paste consistency. Pour in cornstarch mixture and immediately whisk teriyaki sauce until it begins to boil and thicken. Once thick, remove a cup of sauce to baste the hens.

  5. To make the hens easier to eat, cut in half down the breast and remove rib bones from the underside. Serve with rice seasoned with more chopped scallions and fresh grated ginger.

*Depending on the size of the Cornish game hens, sometimes only a half is needed per guest. If they are on the smaller side, serve each guest a
full hen