Anyone who is familiar with the Japanese style of cooking has probably heard of Teppanyaki. You can’t help but notice the sounds of food on iron pans when checking out the Japanese’s cooking. It is one of the many popular cooking styles in Japan and it involves grilling on an iron skillet. With the correct tools and equipment, it is possible to practice Teppanyaki at the comfort of your home.
What Teppanyaki is all about?
Teppan is Japanese for iron pan while yaki means grilled. Teppanyaki is mainly characterized by fresh ingredients and light seasoning. This style of cooking enhances the original flavor of the ingredients rather than cover up. The common seasonings involved in teppanyaki cooking are wine, soy sauce, salt, pepper and vinegar. Garlic is also used in plenty especially when preparing meat, chicken and bean sprouts.
All kinds of beef from different geographical regions feature in teppanyaki dishes. You will have to dig deeper into your pocket for Japanese beef from regions like Kobe, Akita and Matsusaka. The highest quality of Japanese beef is believed to be produced from cows that receive special treatment such as music and massage.
The origin of Teppanyaki
The Japanese are known for their creativity and they have a reputation of turning basically anything into a form of art, and cooking is no exception. Teppanyaki cooking began in Tokyo as locals began using hot plate grill and one can’t help but notice that every aspect of this cooking style is Japanese. It came as a surprise to the locals when a restaurant in downtown Tokyo known as Misono began using a table-side grill to do its cooking in 1945. A combination of entertainment and Teppanyaki dishes such as ‘flaming onion volcanoes’ propelled Misono to global fame.
Teppanyaki dishes are very low on fat and are considerably light since very little oil is involved in the cooking. When ordering teppanyaki dishes in a restaurant, you are given an option of deciding exactly how you want it prepared. You can decide the kind of seasoning and the amount of oil that suit your taste. The food comes in small portions but adequate. It is the kind of food that would definitely be recommended for health-conscious folks. It is also safe to say that the ingredients used in teppanyaki cooking are recommendable as far as health is concerned.
The popularity of Japanese steak houses have made Teppanyaki a household name in America. The teppanyaki style of cooking is also used in preparing yakisoba (noodles) with seafood or sliced meat using vegetable oil or animal fat. It has evolved over the years into an interesting style that is no longer considered as just cooking but as a form of art.
Teppanyaki style of cooking is characterized by light seasoning and fresh, flavored ingredients. They include:
- Meats such as steak, seafood and chicken
- Rice, fried noodles(yakisoba) and other dough-based foods
- Okonomiyaki and monjayaki (savory pancakes with a number of different flavors and ingredients).
- Onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts and carrots.
- Pepper, vinegar, soy sauce, wine, salt and garlic among other seasonings.
The ingredients used in cooking Western teppanyaki are a little different from the Japanese. Beef is the most common ingredient in the Western cooking. The others include chicken, scallops, vegetables, shrimp and lobsters, with soybean oil used for cooking them.
The ingredients used in preparing the Japanese teppanyaki are yakisoba, sliced meat or seafood and cabbage. Vegetable oil, animal fat or a mixture of both is used in the cooking. Kobe beef is the most common in restaurants but is a bit expensive though it’s of much higher quality. Less expensive meat from the USA and New Zealand are also available. The beef cuts are either choice sirloin or tenderloin.
The dishes come with a variety of side dishes such as zucchini, mung bean sprouts, crispy garlic chips and fried rice. In Japan, only soy sauce is available but other Western restaurants provide dipping sauces as well.
How teppanyaki cooking is performed
Teppanyaki food may be outstanding in taste, but wait until you see how it is prepared. A teppan grill is placed on the table where you will be seated before the chef begins the outstanding performance. The knife, fork and spatula are flipped, tossed, clanged and drummed together creating a rhythm that will definitely capture your attention. He feast will then begin with the chef’s skillful chopping and dicing of the food which is then placed on a grill that is already aflame. The result is not only appealing to the eye but the taste will leave you longing for more.
If you are lucky to get a truly creative chef, you may witness some of the following tricks:
- Catching an egg with the hat
- Flipping of a shrimp tail into the shirt pocket
- Splitting an egg mid-air with a spatula
- Flipping pieces of shrimp into your mouth
These are just but a few of the many tricks you may come across. You will also have the privilege of choosing your own chef and how you want the food prepared.
- 1lb sliced beef for Yakiniku
- 1 onion
- 1 zucchini
- 1 pepper
- 8 Shiitake Mushrooms
- ¼ Kabocha pumpkin
- Oil of your choice
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 dried chili peppers
- 2 tablespoonful sugar
- 2 tablespoonful mirin
- 1 tablespoonful grated garlic
- 1 tablespoonful grated ginger
- ½ tablespoonful grounded sesame seeds
- ½ tablespoonful sesame oil
- Start by making the Yakiniku sauce. Add sliced chili pepper and all the other ingredients, except sesame oil, into a pot then cook and stir until it starts to boil. Add the sesame oil and stir.
- Slice onions into 1/2’’ thick and pepper into ½’’ width. Slice Kabocha pumpkin and zucchini into ½’’ thick. Cut off the stems from Shiitake mushrooms.
- Heat the cooking oil on electric grill at high heat. Start by grilling the vegetables that take longer than meat then cook the sliced meat along with the dipping sauce.