Teppan: The Flat Surface Iron Grill In Japanese Cooking

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 9, 2022

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If you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of teppan. But what is it, exactly?

What’s the difference between teppan and teppanyaki?

A teppan is a Japanese flat-surfaced iron griddle used to make teppanyaki. Teppan refers to the iron grill, yaki refers to the art of grilling on it. Its rectangular shape uses heat distribution to create warmer and colder spots for either grilling on high heat or keeping cooked ingredients warm.

Cooking on this iron grill plate brings out the best in every ingredient, resulting in a dish that’s both flavorful and satisfying.

What is a teppan

The history of the teppan and its origins

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Teppanyaki, the western-influenced cooking style was developed shortly after 1945, after World War II ended, as a way to entertain the American soldiers still left in Japan.

It was more popular among Westeners than the Japanese themselves, and was a way to both entertain and make food, showing off knife skills and other tricks.

The teppan itself is said to have been around for more than 200 years prior to Shigeji Fujioka of restaurant Misono “coining” teppanyaki as the Westernized style of entertainment grilling.

The teppan is often confused with hibachi, because in America there are “hibachi restaurants” where food is cooked in front of you, on a teppan.

Hibachi is normally cooked on an open flame grill called a shichirin.

Also read: the differences between teppanyaki and hibachi explained

How to cook on a teppan

If you want to cook teppanyaki at home, it’s important to choose the right ingredients. meats like steak, chicken, and shrimp are all great options, as are vegetables like mushrooms, onions, and peppers.

You’ll also need a few tools of the trade, including a teppan (of course), a teppan spatula, and a teppan brush.

To get started, heat your teppan over medium-high heat until it’s hot. Then, add a little oil to the surface of the teppan and use your brush to spread it around.

Next, place your ingredients on the teppan. If you’re cooking meat, be sure to cook it on the hotter side of the teppan so that it gets a nice sear.

Vegetables can be cooked on either side, but should be moved around frequently so that they don’t stick to the surface and burn.

Once your ingredients are cooked to perfection, remove them from the teppan with a spatula and enjoy, or place them all the way to the side of the grill plate where diners can eat it off the plate, as is often done with okonomiyaki.

Some popular teppan dishes

Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki is obviously the most popular of the dishes cooked on a teppan griddle. It’s what people associate with the plate and it’s even in the name.

Almost anything can be made in this style of cooking but teppanyaki usually refers to meat or seafood and vegetables cooked almost always without any sauces and then served on a plate with some dipping sauces as a side.

Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake that’s made with flour, egg, cabbage, and your choice of meat or seafood.

It’s usually cooked on a teppan or hibachi and then served with a variety of toppings, including okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, pickled ginger, and green onions.

To cook okonomiyaki, you need to mix okonomiyaki powder, water, and cabbage, and then fry the mixture just like pancakes.

You can choose to add seafood like squid and pawn, or noodle and pork in the mixture.

Also, you can add konnyaku in okonomiyaki.

Finally, top the recipe with Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce and the food will be ready to be served.

If you want an extra touch of authenticity, you can add aonori and bonito flakes.

Also read: this is the type of cabbage you’ll want to use to make the perfect okonomiyaki

Yakisoba

Yakisoba is a Japanese noodle dish that’s made with wheat noodles, vegetables, and meat or seafood. It’s then stir-fried on a teppan and served with a variety of dipping sauces.

It’s a popular dish to order at teppanyaki restaurants, but can also be made at home.

This is one of the typical Japanese street foods. Yakisoba tastes excellent, it’s simple to cook, and it is super delicious.

To prepare yakisoba, you need to stir-fry cabbage, noodles, pork, yakisoba sauce, and carrots together.

You can decide to top this meal with Japanese mayonnaise (vs American which is not the same) and a fried egg for improved taste.

Monjayaki

Monjayaki is a liquid-y batter made of flour, water, egg, and shredded cabbage that’s then cooked on a teppan.

It’s usually eaten with friends by scooping it onto a small spatula and then into your mouth. It can also be served with dipping sauces on the side.

Yaki onigiri

This is one of the most common Teppanyaki barbecues in Japan. Its literal meaning is “fried rice-ball.’ Yaki onigiri is a simple meal, but it needs some preparation.

First, you must cook short-grain sushi-rice using a rice cooker or boil it in a pan. Then, roll the rice into a ball and wrap it in a Clingfilm.

Then, add either tsuyu or soy sauce to it and then fry the rice balls on your Teppanyaki grill until it turns brown and crispy.

You can add butter, tuna, or miso to the rice before making the balls for extra delight.

The future of the teppan

The teppan has been around for centuries and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a popular cooking method in restaurants and homes alike, and will likely continue to be so for many years to come. Who knows, maybe one day it will even be considered a classic cooking method. Only time will tell.

Reasons to use a teppan

  1. Teppans provide even heat distribution, which results in evenly cooked food.
  2. Teppans allow you to cook a variety of foods, including meats, vegetables, and seafood.
  3. The teppan has. aflat closed surface making it ideal for cooking smaller food or liquid foods such as rice and eggs.
  4. Teppans are a great option for those who want to cook food indoors.
  5. Teppans are easy to use and relatively easy to clean.
  6. They have different heated zoned so the cook can grill something on high heat, while simultaneously leaving something on the side of the grill to just be heated until everything is done.

Conclusion

So, there you have it! A teppan is a type of Japanese grill that is used to cook food. Now that you know what a teppan is, you can start cooking up some delicious Japanese cuisine!

As you can see, the teppan is a versatile piece of cooking equipment that can be used to make a variety of delicious dishes. So, if you’re ever in the mood for something different, why not give it a try? You might be surprised at how much you enjoy cooking on this

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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.