The word teriyaki derives from the noun teri(照り?), which refers to a shine or luster given by the sugar content in the tare(タレ?), and yaki(焼き?), which refers to the cooking method of grilling or broiling. Traditionally the meat is dipped in or brushed with sauce several times during cooking.
The tare(タレ?) is traditionally made by mixing and heating soy sauce and sake (or mirin) and sugar (or honey). The sauce is boiled and reduced to the desired thickness, then used to marinate meat, which is then grilled or broiled. Sometimes ginger is added and the final dish may be garnished with spring onions.
In North America, any dish made with a teriyaki-like sauce (often even those using foreign alternatives to sake or mirin, such as wine), or with added ingredients, such as sesame or garlic (uncommon in traditional Japanese cuisine), is described as teriyaki. The sauce used for Teriyaki is generally sweet, although it can also be spicy. Pineapple juice is sometimes used, as it not only provides sweetness but also bromelain enzymes that help tenderize the meat. Grilling meat first and pouring the sauce on afterwards or using sweet sauce as a marinade are other non-traditional methods of cooking teriyaki. Teriyaki sauce is sometimes put on chicken wings or used as a dipping sauce.