What is Teppanyaki?

What is teppanyaki

The world of culinary is surely a diverse one. The variety that exists in this world is staggering and at often times delicious! If you are neither a hardcore foodie nor a culinary expert- it is very obvious that you may have never heard of the term teppanyaki. But trust me you definitely came across it at least once. This is because the presence of teppanyaki is dominant. At this point you must be wondering what is this teppanyaki? Be assured as in this article I will cover the details about teppanyaki- and by the end of this article you will be an expert on Teppanyaki.

In layman’s term teppanyaki is a Japanese cuisine which involves the use of iron girdle to cook food. When we break down the Japanese word teppanyaki- things get a bit interesting: “teppan” means iron girdle whereas ‘yaki’ simply means cooked food. You must be wondering that this is a very simple cuisine- but you would be so wrong. Teppanyaki is one of the most complex form of food out there and it takes high levels of skills to master this form of cooking.

A brief history of Teppanyaki

When I say history in an article involving Japanese things- you all must be wondering about ancient times where ninjas and samurais were dominant. But this would be a very common mistake; teppanyaki cuisine is relatively new but people assume it’s ancient due to the style of preparation.

It all began in 1945 when a restaurant chain called Misono introduced the concept of cooking western food in ‘teppan’. This idea was not so popular among locals as they found it to be very common. However, the restaurant chain observed that tourists were fascinated by this cuisine- mostly because of the knife skills that were displayed by the chefs right in front of them. It was something totally new in the world of culinary at that time.

Teppanyaki is remarkable in the US in perspective of eminent chain restaurants, which were more unmistakable in 80s. Cooks at the diners cook meat and vegetables and even rice on a sweeping iron fire sear before customers. The customers can value watching the cooking technique with culinary specialists’ fun execution as an incitement show up close by dinner. Teppanyaki diners in Japan, anyway have an exceptional one of the kind vibes from those in the US.

Teppanyaki is regularly mistaken for Hibachi flame broiling. Hibachi, notwithstanding, uses an open-grind flame broil, though teppanyaki utilizes a strong, frying pan style cooking surface. This makes Teppanyaki appropriate for rice, onions, carrots and mushrooms

Teppanyaki has a very interesting history- no doubt about that, however, it must be noted that this form of cooking is flourishing in modern times and is a key element in spreading Japanese culture all over the world.

The next time you see a traditionally dressed Japanese man boasting his knife skills at a restaurant- just know for sure that he is not a ninja but a great Teppanyaki chef!

Making Teppanyaki at home

After reading the first few parts of this article- you are rightful to wonder that teppanyaki cannot be made at home. This- however- would be a wrong assumption as in the modern day making Teppanyaki at home is extremely easy. Yes, you can even prepare at home! The evolution of kitchen appliances helped  greatly in this process.

You are probably wondering when you get to throw knives and do all the cool stuff. To this, I would say if you are not an expert- do not even think of doing such things as serious injuries might take place. But if you are still willing to do so, (probably because you want to show it off to your friends) then take some classes that they have on teppanyaki cooking.

Teppanyaki recipes

There is a wide range of ingredients from which you can choose: beef, shrimp, lobster, chicken, scallops along with assorted vegetables. Now although making teppanyaki at home itself is easy but making it at restaurant level requires extensive practice. Teppanyaki is such a culinary form that requires a greater portion of practice than skills.

Many Japanese restaurants feature many other forms of teppanyaki dishes like Kobe beef, Japanese noodles with sliced cabbage et cetera but these are harder than the ones mentioned earlier so if you are a rookie it is advised that you start with either regular beef or chicken. For the side dishes- it is totally up to you to make the call. The choosing of side dish largely depends on the main ingredient and also personal preference- but if you are confused then mixture of different veggies is always a safe option. Make sure, however, that you don’t overcook or undercook them as a bad side dish will degrade the main dish no matter how good it is. Other than that, the equipment you require for teppanyaki is the regular set of knives you have at home. At the heart of this process is the iron girdle. So make sure you buy a good one.

teppanyaki side dishesThe list of recipes of teppanyaki is huge– but they all share some basic steps. You can also try this Japanese teppanyaki recipe. The first step involves skillfully slicing your main ingredient i.e. beef, chicken etc. in to small portions. This is probably the most important step in the process because if the size is not proper than the iron girdle will not be able to cook it properly resulting in an overall mess! Before putting your main ingredient in the iron girdle, it is advised that you prepare your side dishes- like vegetables. Side dishes normally can withstand longer period of cooking so it’s safe to fry them along with your main dish. It is worth noting that immediately after cutting your main ingredient you must put them in the freezer. Keeping them overnight will yield the best result but not doing so will work too. The final step is the cooking itself which totally depends on the flame intensity as well as your ingredients. Therefore to master it you need tons of practice.

A common misconception about teppanyaki

For all the Japanese cuisines, teppanyaki is probably the most popular one- rightfully so! However, this makes room for a ton of misconception. It is very common for anyone to mistake literally any Japanese cuisine for teppanyaki. Hibachi, another Japanese cuisine, is probably the most underrated Japanese cuisine-because most of the time they are mistaken for teppanyaki!

teppanyaki vs hibachiThey have a very significant yet unnoticeable difference- sounds weird right? What I mean by this is that if you are a culinary expert the difference will be very obvious to you but if not then you might not notice it all.

The term hibachi literally translates to fire bowl- this is because the grill used for hibachi cuisines is very unique: a cylindrical vessel with fire proof lining. They put charcoal on it and then cook their food in it. For teppanyaki, as we know already an iron girdle is used. The ingredients of teppanyaki and hibachi are likely to be very similar, which perhaps is one of the reasons that this confusion arises. The cooking process yields completely different tastes. I personally prefer teppanyaki but this is subjected to personal preference.

Other than that, both hibachi and teppanyaki are more than just cuisines in Japan. They are a form of art and both deserves equal appreciation. Teppanyaki has made a greater impact because it normally works with Japanese steaks and we all know that Japanese steaks are the best in the world! Teppanyaki is easy to make at home relative to hibachi and also the availability of iron girdle is more than the special cooking vessel required by hibachi.

Final thoughts

So, now you probably know a lot about teppanyaki, and you may be wondering how you can implement this knowledge. There are many ways to do this- you can experience a greater taste of teppanyaki due to your greater choosing ability, or you can show-off your teppanyaki skills to your friends, you can even open your very own teppanyaki restaurant if you have the will to do so. There are people that say teppanyaki isn’t so good- and that’s completely fine because food is like music- everyone has their own opinion and everyone’s opinion needs to be respected. As for myself, I cannot imagine a weekend without my teppanyaki. Teppanyaki restaurant chains are very common in the US, you can find tons of them in every major city. Teppanyaki is also not so expensive like other foreign cuisines!

Teppanyaki is an excellent example of cultural integration- and definitely a delicious one! I hope this article has helped you understand what teppanyaki really is and now you can probably be a ‘ninja’ in your own kitchen to make delicious food. You will be amazed once you try teppanyaki, I can assure you. 

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