Hibachi Steak: Soy-Sauce Marinated & Grilled to Perfection
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As famous as Japanese cuisine is for its umami-rich dishes, so is it famous for its unique BBQ culture.
Just as Americans are known for their Texas-style BBQ, Japan is known for yakitori and hibachi.
While both yakitori and hibachi give you the true Japanese street taste, hibachi is a little unique in its preparation and taste.
Hibachi steak is a Japanese-style steak prepared using unique hibachi grills, also known as shichirin. It derives its taste from the meat’s natural flavor, accompanied by some umami from soy sauce and a pinch of smokiness from binchotan coals.
Seems like something delicious? Well, keep reading. This article is all about hibachi steak.
You will learn everything about hibachi steak, from its very origin to its eating etiquette and everything in between.
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What Is hibachi steak?
Hibachi steak is a traditional Japanese dish typically served in restaurants like hibachi, teppanyaki, Kobe.
“Hibachi” literally translates to “fire bowl grill” in Japanese.
The name is given to the dish because of the unique, pot-like grill used to cook the meat.
However, it is essential to mention that the term “hibachi steak” is also used for meat prepared using the teppanyaki method.
Although it is an entirely different way of cooking from the hibachi, it just got popular with the name “hibachi” in the US and continues to be.
Hibachi steak is often served as an accompaniment with other hibachi dishes, including grilled vegetables, rice, and seafood.
The steak is cut into cubes instead of slices and has a unique smoky, buttery, and conspicuously umami flavor from all the soy sauce used for marinating the meat.
Hibachi steak is traditionally prepared with tenderloin.
However, you could prepare it with any tender meat cut at home. The tenderloin is just a little more buttery.
Hibachi steak has been a part of Japanese food culture for roughly a millennium, and it doesn’t seem to lose its charm no matter how many times you try it.
What does hibachi steak taste like?
Before we describe the taste for you, let us make one thing clear!
Hibachi is about bringing out the ingredients’ natural flavors and making them even better with an extra kick.
Hence, no other ingredients are used while cooking hibachi foods, save soy sauce and some butter.
If we talk about meat specifically, soy sauce is the only extra ingredient used for flavoring.
With just a slight smokiness from the binchotan coal and the natural butteriness of the tenderloin cut, hibachi steak strikes the perfect balance between smoky, umami, and beefy flavor.
This makes it versatile and a great side dish with various dishes, specifically hibachi rice, and veggies, and simply a joy to eat alone!
How is hibachi steak cooked?
Strictly speaking, traditional hibachi steak is cooked using a unique Japanese grill called Shichirin.
It’s a pot-like utensil with room for charcoal in the center and a mesh grate on the top.
The central space of the pot is filled with binchotan charcoal, and when the grate is heated immensely, the meat is seared over it for 5-8 minutes on each side.
The high heat not only cooks the meat but also triggers a Maillard reaction, which is responsible for much of the flavor the steak obtains, other than soy sauce, and the meat’s own flavor.
For those who don’t know, the Maillard reaction is a reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars caused by high heat, giving browned foods their distinctive flavor.
The process described above also applies to hibachi steak cooked in Teppanyaki style.
However, remember that it’s not authentic hibachi steak as it lacks the distinct smokiness of coal.
Looking to get your own hibachi-style grill at home? Find my full review of the best shichirin charcoal, electric & gas grills here
How to make hibachi steak at home
Assuming that you have neither a teppan nor a hibachi grill, let’s look at how you can prepare your own version of hibachi steak at home.
Following are all the steps you need to follow to make hibachi steak at home:
Marinating the steak
Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar to make a marinade. Place the steak in a large resealable bag and pour the marinade over it.
Make sure the steak is evenly coated in the marinade. Let the steak marinate for 1-2 hours. If you want more flavor, you can marinate the steak overnight.
Cooking the steak and vegetables
After the marination, it’s time to cook the steak and vegetables. Heat a pan with sesame or sunflower oil and season the steak with salt and pepper.
Cook the steak for 3-5 minutes on each side or until it’s cooked to your desired level of doneness. Set the steak aside and add some more olive oil to the pan.
Add your choice of vegetables, such as onions, mushrooms, and zucchini, and cook until they’re tender-crisp.
Add soy sauce and butter to the pan and let the butter melt.
Making the fried rice
No hibachi meal is complete without some delicious hibachi-style fried rice. Add some more olive oil to the same pan and cook the rice until heated.
Create a hole in the center of the pan and scramble an egg in the hole. Once the egg is cooked, combine it with the rice and add green onions for extra flavor.
Making the signature mustard sauce
Lastly, let’s make that signature hibachi mustard sauce, also called hibachi yellow sauce (I offer a full recipe + buying guide here).
Combine light mayo, soy sauce, and dijon mustard in a small bowl. If you don’t like dijon mustard, you can substitute it with stone-ground mustard.
This creamy and tangy sauce pairs perfectly with the hibachi steak.
How to eat hibachi steak?
You may know this or not, but hibachi foods are not subject to strict Japanese food etiquette.
In other words, you can eat it just the way you like. You only need a chopstick or a fork and just devour the thing.
However, if we go with the popular practice, a hibachi steak feast is considered incomplete without including rice and veggies. Not to mention the sauce.
While the steak tastes delicious, eating it with rice and veggies gives it a unique flavor depth that you cannot experience otherwise.
The hibachi yellow sauce served alongside the steak and rice makes the combination even more flavorful and gives it that tangy, sour kick, which tastes heavenly when combined with the umami-ness of the meat.
You can also add some seafood and chicken to your platter to make the experience more enjoyable. But of course, it depends on how much time you have.
In case you want to go all out, learn what exactly is served at a complete hibachi grill buffet here
Origin and history of hibachi steak
Although the history of cooking foods using a hibachi grill goes back about a millennium, the history behind hibachi steak spans only over a century, right back to the Meiji era.
The fact that hibachi is so old but hibachi steak isn’t, comes down to one simple reason: the beef was not only rare and expensive (which it is to this day) but was also banned in Japan up until 1872.
Given that hibachi was just the commoner’s way of cooking food, they were not allowed, and neither could afford to eat beef before the Meiji era.
The most common hibachi foods before that were simply veggies.
However, as eating beef, chicken, and seafood became mainstream throughout Japan, hibachi cuisine also incorporated beef into the menu.
Right now, it’s pretty much the star dish of the whole hibachi platter.
Hibachi steak Vs filet mignon
Alright, folks, let’s talk about the ultimate showdown: hibachi steak vs. filet mignon.
It’s like the battle of the beef, the clash of the carnivores, the meaty melee.
First up, we have hibachi steak. This bad boy is cooked up on a hot grill right before your eyes, with all the sizzling and flipping that comes with it.
It’s like a culinary show and dinner all in one.
On the other side of the ring, we have filet mignon. This cut of beef is like the king of steaks, the crème de la crème of meat.
It’s tender, juicy, and oh-so-delicious. It’s like eating a cloud made of beef, if that were a thing.
While hibachi steak may have the showmanship and customization, filet mignon has the security and performance.
It’s like the beef equivalent of Cloudflare. It’s always reliable, always consistent, and always top-notch.
So, in the end, it all comes down to what you value more: the entertainment factor or the quality factor.
But no matter your choice, remember to savor every bite and enjoy the meaty goodness.
Hibachi steak vs teriyaki steak
First off, let’s talk about hibachi steak.
As mentioned, this dish is cooked on a flat-top griddle called teppanyaki or a pot-like meshed grill called Shichirin, also known as a hibachi grill (hence the name).
The grill is usually made of cast iron and is heated to a scorching hot temperature with coals (if it’s the grill) or gas (if it’s the griddle).
The chef then throws on some oil, veggies, and your choice of meat (in this case, steak) and cooks it right before your drooling face.
Now, let’s move on to teriyaki steak. This steak is marinated in a sweet and savory sauce made of soy sauce, sugar, and other secret ingredients (we won’t spill the beans).
Then, it’s grilled or broiled to perfection, giving it a sticky and flavorful glaze.
So, what’s the difference? Well, hibachi steak is all about the show.
You watch the chef flip and toss your steak like a pro while flames shoot up in the air. It’s like dinner and a show all in one!
Teriyaki steak, on the other hand, is all about flavor. The sweet and salty sauce gives the steak a unique taste that will have you licking your plate clean.
So whether you prefer the sizzle of hibachi steak or the sticky goodness of teriyaki steak, one thing’s for sure: you can’t go wrong with a delicious cut of beef.
So, grab your chopsticks and get ready to chow down!
What to serve with hibachi steak?
When it comes to serving hibachi steak, you can’t just have the steak alone. You need some delicious side dishes to complement the flavors and make it a complete meal.
Here are some great side dishes to serve with hibachi steak:
- White rice: This classic side dish is a must-have with hibachi steak. You can prepare it ahead of time and reheat it on the griddle for a perfect texture.
- Hibachi noodles: These thin and chewy noodles are a staple at Japanese steakhouses. You can cook them on the griddle alongside the steak for a delicious addition to your meal.
- Hibachi fried rice: If you love making fried rice, try making a hibachi-style version to serve with your steak. It’s a great way to use up any leftover rice and vegetables you have on hand.
- Cauliflower rice: If you’re looking for a low-carb option, cauliflower rice is a great alternative. It’s also easy to prepare and reheat in a simple wok or skillet.
- Hibachi vegetables: Sautéed vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, and mushrooms are the perfect complement to hibachi steak. You can cook them on the grill alongside the steak for a complete meal.
- Miso soup: Add some miso soup to your hibachi steak dinner for a warm and comforting addition. It’s easy to make and adds some variety to your meal.
Sauces and dressings for dipping
Dipping sauces and dressings are a must-have when serving hibachi steak. Here are some delicious options to try:
- Yum Yum sauce: This creamy and tangy sauce is the perfect dipping sauce for hibachi steak. You can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
- Ginger salad dressing: A tasty salad is an excellent addition to a hibachi steak dinner. Top it off with ginger salad dressing (recipe here) for a refreshing and flavorful side dish.
What vegetables are best with hibachi steak?
Make your hibachi meal healthy and nutritious by serving it with the perfect vegetable combination.
Onions are a must-have vegetable when it comes to hibachi steak.
They add a sweet and savory flavor that compliments the steak perfectly. Plus, they add a nice crunch to the dish.
Zucchini is another great vegetable to pair with hibachi steak. It has a mild flavor that doesn’t overpower the steak and adds a nice texture.
Plus, it’s packed with nutrients like vitamin C and potassium.
Mushrooms are a classic hibachi vegetable and for a good reason.
They have a meaty texture and add an earthy flavor to the dish. Plus, they’re a good source of antioxidants and vitamins.
Carrots are a great addition to hibachi steak because they add a touch of sweetness to the dish.
They also provide a nice crunch and are packed with nutrients like vitamin A and fiber.
Broccoli is another vegetable that pairs well with hibachi steak.
It has a slightly bitter flavor that compliments the sweetness of the onion and carrots. Plus, it’s a good source of vitamin C and fiber.
When it comes to hibachi steak, it’s all about finding the right balance of flavors and textures.
These vegetables are the perfect complement to the rich and savory flavors of the steak.
So, next time you’re making hibachi steak at home, be sure to include these veggies in your dish.
Where to eat hibachi steak?
You can eat hibachi steak in your favorite benihana (teppanyaki) or hibachi restaurants.
While the authentic hibachi taste can only be found in Japan, the experience is generally the same even in America.
You get to experience the same hospitable environment, tones of showmanship, and a taste that will keep you coming back, whether hibachi or teppanyaki.
If you have a Kobe Japanese steakhouse nearby, you can also head there to eat hibachi steak. But beware, Kobe restaurants are generally costly.
Is Hibachi steak healthy?
While hibachi steak can be a delicious and satisfying meal, it is not always the healthiest option.
The dish is often high in sodium and fat (especially if you’re eating it in a teppanyaki restaurant), and adding sauces and other ingredients can add to the calorie count.
However, there are ways to make hibachi-style dishes healthier, such as using leaner cuts of meat and incorporating more vegetables.
Overall, hibachi steak is a flavorful and entertaining dish that is enjoyed by many.
Whether dining out at a hibachi-style restaurant or making the dish at home, it will surely be a crowd-pleaser.
Hibachi steak is a Japanese dish cooked on a grill before the table.
It’s a great way to get a delicious meal with vegetables and rice. It’s great for a date night or family get-togethers.
You can cook almost anything on the grill, from steak to chicken to shrimp to lobster.
Remember to use chopsticks, and don’t forget the “arigato” (thank you) at the end!
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Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.
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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.