Teppanyaki is a Japanese-style cuisine that utilizes an iron cooking device with a flat surface to cook food. Teppanyaki comes from the Japanese term teppan, meaning iron plate, and yaki, meaning pan-fried, grilled, or broiled. Therefore, the term teppanyaki literally translates to pan-frying, grilling, or broiling on an iron plate. In addition, teppanyaki is inspired by Western side dishes and Eastern flavors. One of the perks of ordering a teppanyaki cuisine is its versatility. You can definitely choose your desired ingredients and even the amount and type of oil and seasoning.
Brief History of Teppanyaki
Teppanyaki started in Japan about 200 years ago. It was in 1945 that the first teppanyaki restaurant, Misono, was opened in Kobe. As claimed by Misono, they were the first restaurant that popularized the concept of cooking food on a grill in front of customers.
What’s interesting is that this style of cooking became more famous in foreign countries than in Japan. A lot of foreigners love to witness the highly skilled chefs maneuvering the ingredients. When Misono became more popular with tourists, they decided to improve the performance portion of the food preparation. Chefs now perform food stunts (e.g., stacking onions to form a flaming onion volcano).
After World War II, teppanyaki was introduced in the Western society. Until in 1964, the first US teppanyaki restaurant, Benihana, was opened in New York. As the years go by, teppanyaki has evolved. It is not about cooking anymore, but it became a form of art.
Equipment and Ingredients Used in Teppanyaki Cuisines
Wide and flat iron grill, known as teppan grill, is the primary equipment used in preparing teppanyaki cuisines. Usually teppan grill is situated tableside with the chef preparing food in front of the customers. In addition to the teppan grill, other equipment includes metal spatulas, grill fork, and huge, razor-sharp knife. These are all needed to manipulate the ingredients.
Many teppanyaki restaurants utilize costly, high-quality ingredients, thereby making this cuisine a fancy meal for special events or occasions. Teppanyaki can be primarily made with seafood, steak, or chicken. Dough-based ingredients such as fried noodles or yakisoba and rice also comprise this cuisine. Other ingredients include seasonings (wine, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, salt, and garlic) and minced or cut veggies (bean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, and onions).
Teppanyaki cuisine is not only common in Japan, but it is also a popular cuisine in the Western world. When it comes to Japanese-style teppanyaki, the ingredients that are usually utilized are seafood or chopped meat, cabbage, and yakisoba. Vegetable oil, animal fat, or both are used to cook the ingredients. Beef is also an ingredient used by many restaurants in Japan. They particularly feature the high-quality beef brands such as Kobe, Matsusaka, and Akita. However, some restaurants also offer less costly beef coming from the USA and New Zealand. The beef cuts in teppanyaki are either choice sirloin or tenderloin.
On the other hand, the common ingredients utilized in preparing Western teppanyaki include lobster, shrimp, chicken, beef, scallops, and veggies. All these are cooked using soybean oil.
Teppanyaki cuisines are served with a side dish. Ingredients used in preparing side dishes comprise zucchini, mung bean sprouts, crispy garlic chips, and fried rice. Some restaurants offer dipping sauces; however, soy sauce is only provided in Japan.
Each restaurant offers various menus when it comes to teppanyaki; the most common of these is a Western-style course menu with a twist of Japanese course. Normally, course menus begin with an appetizer like salad or soup, then a seafood course, a main course (a meat dish), a rice course, and a dessert including tea or coffee. The following are some of the teppanyaki courses:
- Beef Course
Since teppanyaki is a counterpart of the American steak in Japan, it is not surprising that the meat is the primary course of the meal. Japanese teppanyaki dining allows you to savor the rich sweetness of top-quality black-haired wagyu beef.
- Rice Course
Fried rice and egg or risotto is also served during a teppanyaki dinner. The rice is directly cook on a teppan cooktop. Highly skilled chefs usually toss the egg into the air through a spatula prior to frying it.
- Seafood Course
In a seafood course, prawns and scallops are commonly grilled. When it comes to seafood course, Hokkaido black abalone and Ise spiny lobster are popular in Japan.
- Vegan Course
Teppanyaki vegan recipe includes fried vegetables with rice. Carrots, white cabbage, and julienned zucchini are some examples of these veggies. Using a tangy sauce, these vegetables are sautéed. This can be served with or without a starch.
- Dessert: Top off your teppanyaki meal with pastries, cake, or sorbet along with tea or coffee.
Teppanyaki as an Art
Although teppanyaki is a cooking style, it is also considered as a form of art. As a matter of fact, it is a blend of old-fashioned Japanese cooking methods and contemporary performance art. As mentioned earlier, teppanyaki cuisines are prepared in front of diners. In the long run, this concept has turned into a food entertainment or show. Because of this, many Japanese movies and TV series usually highlight socially elite individuals enjoying their teppanyaki meal.
One main focus of teppanyaki dining is the chef’s ability to demonstrate various cooking techniques. This enables guests to have a dining experience the same as the dinner theater. The exhibitions that chefs do include cooked prawn flipping, precisely slicing or cutting meat or seafood, and flame setting to chopped onions. Your teppanyaki experience won’t be complete without witnessing the art of teppanyaki cooking.
Teppanyaki is a popular cuisine in Japan and Western countries. It comprises a wide range of high-quality ingredients, making it a versatile choice for many diners. Whether you are a vegan or carnivorous, teppanyaki restaurants got you covered. Teppanyaki dining does not only allow you to be filled and satisfied with delectable food, but it also enables you to enjoy a spectacular show of knife skills and cooking techniques.